Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:11): I rise to speak on this parliamentary Public Works Committee consideration being sought for the Truro bypass project. I would like to think this is more of a project about the appropriate freight route around Truro because it is a significant part of our freight network, with up to 700 heavy vehicles a day going through Truro. This is part of a $202 million project set up by the former Liberal government's 2021 budget.
It is a very significant proposal for the Sturt Highway. I think it encompasses somewhere around a 14-kilometre section around Accommodation Hill. Most people who live in the state would have travelled up the Sturt Highway, and Accommodation Hill is a fair haul for trucks. When you think of the old days, when we only had trucks with about 300 horsepower, it would have been quite a struggle with a big load. I note that into the future this freight bypass will open up to triple road trains and now we certainly have trucks that are closer to 700 horsepower to take these loads.
This freight route is very important in a range of ways, not just for getting freight out to the Riverland from areas such as Port Adelaide, where you can now pull double road trains and B-doubles straight out of there, but also for a lot of the freight tasks that otherwise may come down the South Eastern Freeway. Acknowledging that we do have a freight route coming into Adelaide down the South Eastern Freeway and down Portrush Road, it is good to see that those combinations bigger than B-doubles have to come around the northern freight bypass, through Murray Bridge, up to Mannum, up to Sedan, then to a place called Halfway House on the Sturt Highway and then into Adelaide.
It is a significant detour; I think it is something like 90 kilometres. Where we get the productivity increase in this bypass is with companies like Collins and others that are pulling those bigger combinations, whether they are double road trains or B-triples. There are certainly some companies pulling B-quads. Then you see the big combinations, the AB-double, which is essentially a semitrailer and a B-double, so essentially 2½ trailers. This certainly increases the productivity that is so necessary as we move forward.
Freight operators are not unlike anyone else: looking for workers, looking for staff, making sure we can get that vital freight transported not just around the state but through the state. A lot of our freight is developed internally, whether it is those small loads for the local freight network for simple household needs ranging from foodstuffs to furniture to machine parts, etc., or those necessary items that have to come from interstate.
Truro is on the Sturt Highway, which is the main freight link through to the Riverland and then through to Sydney. It is also a vital part of that freight link for those heavy combinations coming out of Melbourne and bypassing the Hills. They can head in once they get up there near Gawler on the flat run in to Port Adelaide.
We have seen a lot of road networks upgraded north of Adelaide. Talking to some of my mayors out in the South-East and east of the state, it is time we had a lot of roadworks done east and south-east of Adelaide. One of the things that is dear to my heart is the duplication of roads—the Dukes Highway, which I live on at Coomandook, and obviously the Sturt Highway. It is interesting to note that in this $202 million project there will be a single-lane freight route each way. It would have been nice to see the opportunity for more duplication.
I do find it a bit frustrating, as I did quite a few years ago earlier in my parliamentary career when I spoke to the Public Works Committee about a $100 million project for the Dukes Highway, which was essentially a lot of overtaking lanes. The 1,200-millimetre lane down the middle of the road certainly makes it safer but, as I indicated to the Public Works Committee at the time, it would have been more appropriate to put that money into extra duplication for the Dukes Highway. It is certainly better, I will grant that, but the Dukes is a very significant freight route, as is the Sturt Highway.
Looking at what is happening with the Augusta Highway I do get a bit frustrated. We did great work as a government putting in the works—the bridge works project and the bypass project at Port Wakefield—to make it safer for people accessing Yorke Peninsula. There are duplication works that were commenced under our government, the Marshall Liberal government, but that is only programmed to go through to Lochiel. Sadly, we see that with the Augusta Highway, yes, they are getting overtaking lanes and, yes, they are a reasonable option, but I still say they are a B-class option compared with what could be the A-grade solution for making sure that we can get freight to where it needs to be.
As it is now, up that highway you can take two-trailer road trains to Port Augusta and then you can hook up the third to go through to Alice Springs and Darwin. As we are already seeing with the planning around this freight route at Truro, we are looking at the expansion of the ability to put triple road trains on this road. That is certainly a positive because, as I said, it is harder and harder to get truck operators and drivers in the seat, and it is a lot better to carry these heavier loads.
We have certainly proven that we do take a reasonable amount of traffic. In fact, when travelling down the South Eastern Freeway (and up it, obviously), I notice there is a lot less freight coming down there than used to be. Roadworks like this at Truro will make that significantly better. Truro has a very nice main street, but it is pretty tight, and if we can get this freight route in place it will make it better for everyone. I certainly support these works and the sooner the better.
I think there is an opportunity that has been missed in that it is not two lanes each way. But it certainly will be a major improvement in the freight work that needs to be done in this state and not just on the Sturt Highway because it does benefit multiple routes, as I said, whether it is out on the Sturt Highway or hooking around back through Mannum into Murray Bridge so that those trucks that are heading to Melbourne with those bigger combinations can go that way. I commend the works, and the sooner they are done the better.