EXCLUSIVE Libs plan to fund bush roads with mining cash
CRUMBLING roads across the state would receive hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades under a Liberal Party plan to use mining royalties to fix SA’s neglected regional infrastructure. Opposition Leader Steven Marshall will today announce a “Royalties for the Regions” policy, which includes quarantining 30 per cent of mining royalty revenue for a Regional Roads and Infrastructure Fund.
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FROM PAGE 1 The Liberals claim the fund could deliver $750 million for regional roads and infrastructure upgrades over the next decade, based on current projected royalty revenue.
“South Australia’s regions form the backbone of our economy and the Liberals will ensure our regions get their fair share,” Mr Marshall said.
“The state Liberals will increase funding for regional road upgrades and other critical infrastructure, such as mobile phone towers to address black spots that will increase productivity, grow our economy and create much-needed jobs.
“A Liberal Government will deliver royalties for our regions and secure long-term funding for our regional infrastructure.” Mr Marshall said country residents were dissatisfied with the Weatherill Labor Government’s city-centric approach, which meant the condition of country roads and infrastructure had been ignored.
The state’s mining royalties are expected to bring in $252 million in 2018-19, according to budget papers.
The State Government yesterday called for expressions of interest for more than $35 million of road projects in regional areas, including $3.3 million for 25km of shoulder sealing on the Princes Highway between Kingston and Millicent.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said the government was spending $532 million on road maintenance and safety measures over four years, with $341 million to be spent in the regions.
The Liberal policy announcement comes more than a week after SA Best leader Nick Xenophon pledged to run a fleet of candidates in Lower House seats in the March election. The Advertiser reported that major party polling had shown the Liberals were vulnerable throughout the Adelaide Hills and country, including the seats of Heysen and Mt Gambier.
Labor’s main vulnerability was understood to be the Whyalla-based Giles, while independent minister Geoff Brock could be challenged by SA Best in his Port Pirie-based seat.
The Liberals appealed to country voters last month by pledging to reverse the reduction in speed limits on eight country roads by the Weatherill Government.
The Sunday Mail revealed in September the speed limit would be slashed from 110km/h to 100km/h on the regional roads instead of repairs, which would cost “billions of dollars”.
Civil Contractors Federation SA chief executive Phil Sutherland said at least $500 million needed to be immediately spent on road maintenance throughout the state.
Mr Sutherland said some of the most pressing major works were the $450 million upgrade to Strzelecki Track and a $40 million improvement to Yorkeys Crossing Rd, near Port Augusta.
“By and large, our road network in SA is nearly 50 years out of date and it needs a lot of investment and attention,” Mr Sutherland said.
“If you can get the regional road network up to a reasonable level, that will surely stimulate the regional economies. Transport economists have told us that with every dollar spent on infrastructure the community can see a 10fold return through the economy.” Mr Sutherland said by investing in public infrastructure unemployed people could be trained in civil construction, the economy stimulated through demand for materials, and goods and services on the road.
The Federation has previously said the Strzelecki Track upgrade could unlock $1.3 billion annually for the state. The upgrade could also generate a great deal of work for civil contractors, it said.
But despite the upgrade being identified as a priority project in South Australia’s Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan in 2015, it remains unfunded.
PAE 18: EDITORIAL Augusta Highway Duplication A $1.2 million duplication is needed between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta.
Civil engineers have dubbed this stretch the “Death Corridor”. The project would need state and federal funding. As of December last year, there had been 61 serious casualties – including 14 fatalities – in at least 31 traffic accidents in three years along the stretch of road.
Copper Coast Highway and Port Wakefield Rd intersection For years, traffic has come to a standstill at the intersection every long weekend or school holiday, frustrating motorists and adding up to an hour to drive times during peak periods. It has been the scene of numerous crashes.
Strzelecki Track A $450 million upgrade is needed to improve and seal the Strzelecki Track – a 472km unsealed road that links the towns of Lyndhurst and Innamincka in the northeast of South Australia. The road becomes impassable when it rains, interrupting transport and tourism. The Advertiser has previously reported an upgrade would provide an annual economic benefit to SA of $1.3 billion.
Princes Highway One of the South East’s busiest transport and freight routes needs a $1 billion upgrade, according to the Civil Contractors Federation.
It believes a 250km stretch between Meningie and Millicent must be done as a matter of urgency. The uprade would need federal and state funding. The road was deemed dangerous by the Federation as there have been 59 casualties including 17 deaths – over the past five years.
Yorkeys Crossing Rd A $40 million upgrade is needed to seal a key transport thoroughfare around Port Augusta, according to the Civil Contractors Federation. The 27km stretch becomes flooded and impassable. It believes an upgrade would facilitate tourism and a reduction in industry “downtime” due to road closures.
Joy Baluch Bridge A $200 million duplication is needed to the major road link at Port Augusta, used daily by thousands of motorists and trucks travelling on the National Highway.