Regional roads abandoned under Peter Malinauskas' Cabinet reshuffle

Regional roads have been abandoned under Peter Malinauskas’ first Cabinet reshuffle with the standalone portfolio previously held by Geoff Brock now absorbed into the broader portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport held by Tom Koutsantonis.

The change, which was confirmed on Monday, was forced because of Geoff Brock’s resignation from the Malinauskas Labor Government’s Cabinet.

The decision to cut the standalone Regional Roads portfolio follows recent decisions to cut more than $400 million from critical regional infrastructure projects such as the Truro Freight Route and Hahndorf Township Improvements and Access Upgrades.

There have also been lengthy delays to the $215 million Strzelecki Track Upgrade and Sealing Project which commenced in 2020 under the former Liberal Government. This comes at a time when the RAA has noted the South Australian road maintenance backlog has reached $2 billion.

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Adrian Pederick, said this was another example of the Malinauskas Labor Government turning its back on regional South Australia.

“The disrepair of our regional roads is shameful and I am deeply concerned that they will be overlooked now that there is no dedicated Minister for Regional Roads,” Mr Pederick said.

“The axing of the Regional Roads portfolio is yet another example of this Malinauskas Labor Government’s city-centric approach. We have regional roads, quite literally, crumbling at the edges that require more investment and attention, not less.

“It’s madness that more than $100 million has been announced for sporting facilities over the past couple of weeks, yet something as important as regional roads gets the boot.”

Statistics from the South Australian Police reflect the harsh reality of accidents on regional roads. In 2023, South Australia recorded:

  • 50 per cent increase in fatalities on country roads
  • 20 per cent increase in collisions resulting in serious injury on country roads

An RAA report in March 2023 noted how urgent investment for regional roads is. The release states: “Figures show the Augusta Highway was the state’s most deadly road over the last five years, with 44 fatalities recorded. Next on the list was Sturt Highway with 36, followed by Princes Highway (22) and Dukes Highway (19).”

Shadow Minister for Regional South Australia, Nicola Centofanti, said she too was disappointed.

“As a representative deeply invested in regional South Australians, I am upset with Peter Malinauskas’ decision to axe the Regional Roads portfolio,” Dr Centofanti said.

“Our producers are dependent upon good roads that can manage the freight our state delivers. Without adequate networks, trucks cannot safely and efficiently go about their business of moving our nation.

“I have said it before and I will say it again – we must prioritise the serviceability and safety of our regional roads.”

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  • Adrian Pederick