Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 27, 2023


Road Toll

The Hon. B.R. HOOD (15:19): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Is the minister aware that South Australia's road death toll is tragically set to reach 120 fatalities by the end of the year compared with last year's total of 71? If so, does the minister find the $2.5 million per year for four years allocated to regional road safety treatments in this year's budget adequate for protecting regional South Australians and capable of reducing the road toll?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:19): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am sure we are all deeply saddened by the level of deaths on our roads. It is something that I think particularly those of us who live regionally feel acutely, but of course anyone who is involved or connected in any way to someone who loses their life through a road accident will be saddened by that statistic. There were a number of road safety initiatives in the recent budget as well.

Whilst this is specifically the purview of the Minister for Transport and indeed the Minister for Regional Roads, I do have some relevant information that has been provided to me, and I am happy to share that advice. First of all, in terms of the funding for roads, the Minister for Regional Roads advised that the $56 million being referred to is new money in this budget, but at the same time there is $795 million worth of roads in the program for the next 12 months, and in the forward estimates for the next four years there is a total of $1.86 billion for roads.

I think we need to also remember some of the history around regional roads, and particularly around their maintenance, for example. In 2022, the annual report of the Auditor-General, which was published in June last year, detailed that the rough order of magnitude cost over four years of completely eliminating a backlog of road maintenance was estimated at around $1.96 billion.

The then transport minister, Corey Wingard, said in a media release in February 2021 that they—supposedly—'inherited a $750 million backlog in maintenance works', and that they were 'continuing to chip away at that list', was the particular quote. In fact, far from chipping away at the backlog, the Liberals were instead walking away from it, with former Treasurer Rob Lucas outsourcing the government's road maintenance contract from late 2020. In fact, in the period from 2020 to 2022, when the Liberals lost government—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —the $750 million road maintenance backlog grew by almost three times. That was the last two years of the former Liberal government, with the former government failing to prioritise the upkeep of South Australia's road infrastructure.

The state continues to reap the legacy of the former Marshall government's era of error, with then Treasurer Rob Lucas locking South Australians into a seven-year contract for his sell-off of the state's road infrastructure maintenance. That was despite the fact that the Liberals had made a pledge that they had no privatisation agenda, and yet they privatised road maintenance, and what happened? In the three years since that betrayal, the maintenance backlog blew out from $750 million, according to former transport minister Corey Wingard, to just short of $2 billion.