Strzelecki Track


Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government. Can the minister inform the house about how the Marshall government is supporting the South Australian economy through the sealing of the Strzelecki Track?

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (15:00): I thank the member for Flinders for the question. I know that this is a question the member for Stuart would have liked to ask, but he, being minister, I think may have precluded him.

The Strzelecki Track is a project that sat on the table for a long period of time. Again, it’s another one of those things where the opposition had it in a press release and on a piece of paper but just didn’t have any money towards it. Again, that’s not how you deliver projects. That’s how you announce projects without actually having any intention of delivering. This government, through our—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —Economic and Business Growth Fund, given how important this project is strategically to the productive capacity of our state, has chosen to put in $10 million to seal the first 50-kilometre stretch of the Strzelecki Track. This is a down payment on a project that needs to get done for a whole host of reasons. We are going to seal the first 50 kilometres of the 472-kilometre Strzelecki Track, beginning immediately north of Lyndhurst—or, as the member for Stuart would say, where the sealing currently ends, and it is somewhere north of Lyndhurst.

That stretch was chosen because we have identified water sources and material to be able to undertake this work. It will create 31 jobs over the life of the project. But the great news is that we are able to commence the sealing of the Strzelecki Track this year, in the third quarter of this year, with expected completion sometime in the first half of next year. We will make sure that we get this first 50-kilometre stretch done. It helps to build upon some of the work that has been done already.

We know the Strzelecki Track closes for roughly 40 days a year, give or take, and that has huge productivity implications for the north of our state, especially for three very important sectors, the first and biggest being our oil and gas sector, a great driver of our economy and one that we know delivers huge benefits. They do have significant difficulty getting materials and supplies in and out of Moomba and the surrounding gas fields and it’s why this project first and foremost is important.

The second reason is that we know that carting outback livestock around can again get pretty difficult when this road is unusable. We also believe that the sealing of the Strzelecki Track is going to help enhance tourism and that it will become a place where tourists come to enjoy the outback of South Australia. It has been difficult on outback roads over the last couple of years because of the drought and dry conditions that we have had.

As much as the good work from contractors and DPTI staff out there has tried to keep roads in passable condition, the dryness helps to make these roads deteriorate more quickly than they otherwise would. In fact, conversely, the rain also gets in the way. The minister took the opportunity just last week to show me some photos of a recently re-formed road that, because of even just five mils’ worth of rain, made that road very difficult. The sealing of the Strzelecki Track we know is going to help keep that road open. In instances where we see rain force the closure of that road, the ability to reopen it much more quickly than happens now is very important.

This is just another example of this government’s record investment and spend in infrastructure in South Australia’s economy right at a time when we need it most, delivering jobs. I know there has been some commentary in the last few days from members in this chamber, trying to suggest that somehow the government needs to spend even more on infrastructure. A record spend I think is a record spend.

More than that, I think what they fail to understand is that much of this spend is happening in regional South Australia. I know there are those opposite who, when they were in government, thought that everything stopped at Gepps Cross, but on this side of the house we know that it is the whole of South Australia that we need to invest in, and our regional economies are going to be the beneficiaries.