Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:00): I rise today to speak on the estimates committees and the aftermath of those committees; it is always an interesting process. I would first like to acknowledge Minister Geoff Brock, the member for Stuart. It was good to have a conversation with him earlier today and see that he is on the way to better health after having had a quadruple bypass. There were some significant little dramas along the way, not just involving him directly, but he is here and I applaud that.
In regard to the estimates on regional roads, Minister Tom Koutsantonis stepped up to the plate. He is already the minister looking after roads and infrastructure throughout the state. What really concerns me about regional road upgrades is the state's road maintenance backlog—which was questioned during estimates by me—that is hitting $3 million, despite calls from this side of the house. The RAA is also looking for a four-year road maintenance fund to be considered.
This is absolutely vital right across the state, whether you are on the Far West Coast with the Eyre Highway, the Tod Highway and other highways over there. There are many roads on Yorke Peninsula, including the Upper Yorke Road and others around there. There are some works being done on the Horrocks Highway, and right down around to the South-East, but through parts of the Hills there is much work to be done.
There are still many projects being completed that were instigated when we were in government, including the overpass project at Port Wakefield and the Joy Baluch Bridge duplication, which is pretty well done. I think it was about $250 million between those two projects. It is quite a bit of spaghetti at Port Wakefield but it sort of works. You come through on the old road heading north through the main street and the bypass leads you in behind the town, essentially around the roadhouses. It takes a little bit of coordination when you do it the first time but when you have done it once you have got it.
What I did see recently was some excellent work being done by Fulton Hogan contractors in the Far North, up around the Glendambo/Coober Pedy area, in regard to getting the Stuart Highway up to speed, with some excellent resheeting work. But the issue for this whole state is that there are many kilometres of that work needing to be done around the state. Certainly, we are keen to see much more money hit the ground.
I noticed that more than a third of that $98 million under the road safety package is going towards a roundabout upgrade in Mount Barker, and that is great. I have used that roundabout many, many times, and I was at an event the other day talking to some people from Mount Barker and I said, 'What do you see wrong with that roundabout?' and they said, 'Nothing.' I guess it is great that the member for Kavel negotiated to get that $41 million for that project, but there is so much work that could have been done elsewhere with that kind of money that I think has a higher priority.
Making the media today is the intersection of Curtis Road and Heaslip Road. It is the old stomping ground of my family, and it has certainly changed a lot since my father and my grandfather were there. They are screaming out in the Angle Vale region to get that roundabout duplicated and the drainage works done and everything to get that in place but, alas, politics has got in the way.
There are no new projects of any size for regional roads and there are existing projects that are under threat due to the federal Labor government's new 90-day review process. We are yet to hear anything about the review process, and we are rightly concerned on this side of the house about where that is going as well, especially with the likes of the Hahndorf bypass project, where $250 million was allocated by the previous Liberal governments, both federal and state.
Here we see what I think is another ridiculous outcome, where that project has been carved up. It will not have access made better in a material way for the people of Hahndorf, and those million tourists a year who visit, by the latest thing that has happened there with Minister Koutsantonis announcing that 15-metre trucks will not be able to go through the main street of Hahndorf, unless you are a local truck or you have no other way out.
I know what I would say if I were a truck driver and got pulled over for the $400-plus fine if I was found to be on that road. I would say, 'I have no other choice.' It is ridiculous. There are so many holes in that argument. As the very eloquent member for Hartley said, it is like putting a bandaid over a bullet hole. Much has been said about the Hahndorf upgrade and the issue around compulsory acquisition.
Has anyone complained about the compulsory acquisition that will have to take place with the Mount Barker roundabout? My understanding about Beerenberg Farm is that a small section at the back of the farm would have to be taken up to get that outcome. As someone from a family that has been on the end of compulsory acquisition three times, to do with either defence projects or the movement of the Dukes Highway, you go through the process and you negotiate it and get the best outcome. Certainly, what is going on in Hahndorf is such a terrible proposal and it is not doing what was wanted by the community. We will soon see how many holes it has in it.
There is also the Truro freight bypass project, where $202 million was put up, yet we see it being pushed down the road—no pun intended. It is such a vital link towards the Riverland and that freight route, which at this stage is the alternative freight bypass for freight coming down through the Hills down the South Eastern Freeway.
I have mentioned here many times about how anything bigger than a B-double has to go around that freight bypass—Murray Bridge, Mannum, Sedan, Cambrai, up to the Halfway House corner on the Sturt Highway, and then head up though Truro into Adelaide. It is quite a few kilometres around the back, but certainly there are many, many thousands of tonnes of freight that have already come off the highway and gone around that road. That should be a high priority of the government, but again it is another project that has stalled.
There is the South East Link project and the duplication of the Swanport Bridge—a vital project that should have been done when it was built and opened in 1979. We instigated an investigation into that project, which was the first five kilometres of duplication out towards Tailem Bend, and we do need to get on with this duplication.
In my mind, we need to have procedures, policies, and we need to have money to hit the ground in combination with the federal government of course—with the 80:20 funding split with the federal government and the state government—to get the Augusta Highway, the Sturt Highway and the Dukes Highway all duplicated. The problem is we get the people doing the pricing inside the Department for Infrastructure and Transport and coming up with this huge money: between those three projects, it would be north of $10 billion.
Recently, having travelled to Port Augusta, I saw the work we started on the duplication to Lochiel. That is ongoing and pleasing to see, but there are still another 177 kilometres from Lochiel to Port Augusta that are vital to be done. Obviously, with the important links into places like the OZ Minerals mines at Carrapateena and Prominent Hill, now under the remit of BHP, and also Roxby Downs, station owners and general freight are running through to Darwin where you drag your first two semitrailers, first two-part road trains, through to Port Augusta, then hook up the third. My understanding is that once it is duplicated, which is a little way down the track, we are going to have triple road trains all the way from Port Adelaide through to Darwin.
Certainly, the Sturt Highway and the Dukes Highway both need duplicating to the border, and both those projects are approximately 200 kilometres each. It is not just for the people who live, work and play in those regions, as most people in this state would travel along these roads at some stage in their lives or at multiple times in their lives. The Dukes Highway is a very busy road heading toward Melbourne and does cut through my property.
These projects are absolutely vital, as is also the investigation into the alternative freight bypass around the back of the Hills to make a shorter route than the one going up through the Halfway House, as it is now. That has gone off the map as well at the moment, but we are very keen on this side of the house to see these projects get going.
I note the significant impact that the River Murray flood event had on many regional roads throughout not just my community but into the Riverland in the seat of Chaffey and down into the seat of Finniss, and I acknowledge the work that everyone did to get roads back in order. I do acknowledge there was fast work done on Hunter Road on the opposite side to the main township of Mannum so that we get the ferry open and get things operating again. All the private contractors, all the volunteers, did so much work during the floods.
I note that the top 10 worst grain roads were not considered in the budget. When the question was asked about it, the answer was, 'We're looking at all our roads and evaluating them on the basis of need.' Well, that does not help the people who use Upper Yorke Road, which came to prominence again in the media in the last couple of days with the RAA outlining that the 33-kilometre stretch of that road between Maitland and Kulpara has a one star safety rating.
It does not help the people who use Nine Mile Road out by Malinong, out down my way; World's End Highway; the Mallee Highway, which has some significant issues, especially up between Lameroo and Pinnaroo; Flinders Highway; Owen Road; Booleroo Road; Templers Road; Frances Road; and the Barrier Highway. We are coming into another grain harvest, and farmers are facing enough challenges without the road issues.
Part of estimates was asking questions around emergency services. I want to acknowledge the amazing work of all our emergency personnel during those services, whether they be CFS personnel or SES personnel. MFS personnel were there as well. I note some of these people are paid people, but a lot are volunteers and a lot are private volunteers who did so much work with the River Murray flood event, which we are still clawing our way out of with all the insurance obligations and making sure that people can rebuild and get on with their lives.
There was obviously a lot of funding that was required, and we just want to make sure that all the funding that is necessary to get communities back on track is there, especially for the levee work. We have a lot of work to do in our end of the river in working out where those River Murray levees will sit. One thing we found out during estimates was the $1.25 million in capital and a further $20,000 in ongoing funding to establish a temporary flood barrier capability so the state can be prepared for a future flooding event. I certainly found DefenCell was very handy, especially in Mannum and Murray Bridge.
We have seen $1.9 million being allocated over four years to increase mental health and wellbeing support for the emergency services sector, which is a great thing. I note that the Stress Prevention and Management 24-hour seven-day-a-week helpline recorded a 129 per cent increase in its demand for services from volunteers and family members.
We picked up during estimates that 276 farm firefighting grants were awarded in the first year of the program, but the issue I have with that is that pretty well all trailer units were excluded from that program. I have a trailer unit. I funded it under my own steam and did not worry about a grant program, but it looks like I would have wasted my time anyway. They are very handy units to have on your property. Mine holds 1,500 litres; some hold a lot more, some hold a bit less. They are very handy in assisting with fires and those sorts of operations. I do acknowledge the extra investment in the additional nine aircraft over the next four years to enhance the state's aerial firefighting capability.
Veterans make up a great community amongst the rest of our community, and I acknowledge all our veterans and our serving personnel for everything they have done for our country. We note that there is a $500,000 investment over four years for a veterans community framework, which includes a growth support program and a comprehensive outreach program.
There is $730,000 for the redesign and upgrade of the Pathway of Honour in preparation for the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the end of World War II, which will happen in August 2025. Certainly, as I am already aware, the main matters of concern for the ex-service community in South Australia include employment, homelessness, family support, carer support and incarceration. These are areas we all need to improve on.
One thing I was keen to question was the pilot of the 2021 Veterans SA Career and Business Mentoring Program, which was initiated by the former Liberal government. It was a success and is currently being run again. I think there is plenty of opportunity that could come if this is expanded into the future. I also note that Veterans SA, as the local state body, made a submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide in the previous financial year, with a hearing held in Adelaide. That is a terrible statistic, veteran suicide, and we must do better for our veterans, noting that they are willing to put their hand up, as we note the sad loss of three marines off the north of Australia.
In closing, there were some good signs in the budget, like some of the veterans' money being spent, but there is also a lot of improvement to be made in the future.