Mr PASIN (Barker) (10:33): My electorate of Barker spans 64,000 square kilometres and sits between the Adelaide Hills and the eastern states. There are four highways that connect Adelaide to the eastern states and therefore run through Barker: the Sturt Highway, which takes you through the Riverland; the Mallee Highway, which takes you through the Mallee; the Dukes Highway, which goes down to Mount Gambier; and the Princes Highway, which follows the coastline.
The Sturt Highway and the Dukes Highway are major heavy-vehicle transport routes and are a vital part of Australia’s infrastructure network. The network, officially known as the National Land Transport Network, is crucial for transporting goods in South Australia. However, the Sturt and Dukes highways do not allow for the use of larger, high-productivity vehicles. This is a huge impediment for our freight industry, as existing truck limits and access constraints affect 88 per cent of South Australia’s road freight. This is constraining productivity, and it’s holding back progress. The high-productivity vehicles I speak of are capable of carrying 34 per cent more freight per vehicle. This would obviously mean fewer vehicles would be required on the roads to transport the same amount of freight. Not only does this reduce the cost to transport operators; it increases safety for all road users, and, in an increasingly carbon constrained world, it reduces the industry’s carbon footprint.
Infrastructure Australia has listed the South Australian high-productivity vehicle network access, which includes the Sturt and the Dukes highways, as a priority initiative of the Infrastructure Priority List. Infrastructure Australia proposes improving mass limits and duplicating lanes on the Sturt and Dukes highways. I can’t concur enough. It’s time that we look to upgrade the Sturt and Dukes highways into the 21st century. The Truro bypass is a fantastic start, and I commend the government for the $202 million investment in this.
I also welcome the $143 million infrastructure package that includes three overtaking lanes for the Riddoch Highway. These overtaking lanes will go a long way to making the Riddoch Highway safer for all, but, quite frankly, these kinds of approaches are like putting bandaids on bullet wounds. There’s a much bigger long-term demand, which is the full duplication of the Sturt and Dukes highways. That’s the real fix. The duplication of these important transport routes needs to be prioritised and included in the federal government’s 10-year infrastructure investment pipeline. I’m here to give notice to the federal government and the state government that I’m going to pursue this outcome with vigour. I spend too much time on the roads. I see too many accidents. The duplication of these highways is the answer