THE significant upgrade of South Australia’s rural roads is well overdue and the Liberal party plan to commit mining revenue back to country communities to fund improvements is a promising proposal.
While Adelaide is overrun with roadworks on every corner, and city dwellers are bemoaning increased delays that have doubled some travel times, there are communities across South Australia crying out for any investment in infrastructure and critical roads.
The road network across South Australia has not seen a major financial injection in decades and country people have been falling rapidly behind.
The State Liberal’s “Royalties for the Regions” policy looks to quarantine 30 per cent of mining royalty revenue for infrastructure projects that include mobile phone towers to address black spots.
The headline figure of $750 million for roads and infrastructure over 10 years is not guaranteed but appears achievable based on current projected royalty revenue. It still falls short of need though with Civil Contractors Federation SA chairman, Phil Sutherland, claiming that at least $500 million needs to be spent immediately on country roads.
Deaths on roads in country regions per head of population far exceed those in the city limits and while the reasons for the fatalities are numerous, the poor condition of many country roads is a significant factor.
An improvement in the regional road network could assist transport links, increase productivity and help stimulate regional economies that need a boost in trying times.
Any investment should also guarantee work for youngsters struggling to find work in regions with high levels of unemployment.
The proposal is part of the Liberal strategy to show the Labor Government as citycentric in the lead-up to the 2018 March state election, and to shore up support in Liberal seats in the Adelaide Hills and country vulnerable to the SA Best team led by Nick Xenophon, but should be considered on merit.