Legislative Council: Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Mount Gambier, Public Transport

The Hon. B.R. HOOD (15:18): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Regional Development regarding public transport in Mount Gambier.

Leave granted.

The Hon. B.R. HOOD: The state government has renewed Mount Gambier's bus tender contract to continue current operations until 2035. In 2021, the City of Mount Gambier council undertook a comprehensive review of public transport services where myriad service gaps and inadequacies were found including restrictive 9am to 5pm operation hours that make catching a bus unviable for workers and students, insufficient or non-existent services to sites such as Mount Gambier hospital, Foodbank, the new Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre and seniors' villages, and the complete absence of any bus operations at all on weekends.

While six new buses are proposed to be in use by 2025, and a review is to be undertaken by the department, the contract will not offer any improvements to these existing issues. The current arrangements have been described by the Mayor of Mount Gambier and other community leaders as vastly inadequate. My question to the regional development minister is: does the minister believe that the current service levels are appropriate for our state's second biggest city with a catchment of around 30,000 people?

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. He rightly notes that there is a review underway, which is looking at regional public transport. As the honourable member would be aware, our government has been engaging with regional communities on a very active level, including, for example, our recent country cabinet in MacKillop just last week—

The Hon. N.J. Centofanti: Fly-in fly-out.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —and of course our very first country cabinet that we had following the election was held in Mount Gambier. Although I know we shouldn't respond to interjections, I might point out—

The Hon. N.J. Centofanti interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —that whilst we were happy to engage with the member for MacKillop, unlike those opposite, there were many ministers, myself included, who were there in the first part of the week, throughout the week and until the end and, of course, the Premier was there for several days, including coming to the timber industry awards, as I mentioned in a previous answer to a question.

As part of our election commitment, our government committed to reviewing the operations and availability of public transport options in regional centres. I have spoken in this place myself on a number of occasions about the difficulties that are currently in place. There are a number of, for example, community organisation based transport services, perhaps once or twice a week, transporting commuters or residents to particular activities, and we want to look at how that can best be integrated with other public transport services. I look forward to the outcome of the review and will of course continue to work with the Minister for Transport, whose portfolio this is, on what those solutions might be.