Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:02): I stand to represent the people of Stuart and the people of the outback more broadly. I know very well your affinity with the people of the outback, particularly in the north-west of South Australia. I am here to talk about the terrible condition of outback roads.

Before I do that, I would like to mention the fact that tomorrow is Loud Shirt Day, supporting the Cora Barclay foundation, which is a very important foundation that supports deafness in children. So the Liberal opposition have chosen to dress in loud shirts today. Unfortunately, I did not bring a louder shirt from home, so I have not got a particularly loud shirt on, but I have taken the opportunity to go without a tie. It is a very worthy cause.

Getting back to outback roads, as Madam Speaker will understand, there are thousands of kilometres of very important dirt roads in the outback that have been neglected by this government for a very long time: the iconic Strzelecki Track, Birdsville Track, Oodnadatta Track and many others that run through the Flinders Ranges and also, particularly importantly, around the Oodnadatta area in your electorate, Madam Speaker. Hello Madam Deputy Speaker, and congratulations to you on your elevation. I have not had the chance to speak to you yet.

It is a very important issue. One of the first actions this government took when it came into office in 2002 was to remove maintenance gangs from outback roads. It is a dreadful situation that needs to be rectified. We went to the last election with a promise to increase the number of people and machines working on outback roads. The way things are going just at the moment is completely unacceptable.

Tom Kruse, the famous mailman on the Birdsville Track, would be absolutely devastated if he were to be healthy enough to travel the outback roads. I met him about two years ago at Marree when a bust was unveiled of him. He is a lovely man. Unfortunately, he is not healthy enough to drive these roads any more, but they are in a terrible situation.

At a time when the state is trying to develop mining and tourism throughout the outback, this very important infrastructure is absolutely critical. By not supporting or maintaining these roads, state government efforts in other ways are significantly diminished. I have brought with me today's road report from the Department of Transport. It looks particularly at the Strzelecki and Birdsville tracks and, of the 17 notices, seven are for roads that are open or in full condition and 10 either have warnings associated with them or are closed. So 59 per cent of the roads today, as reported by the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, are substandard. That is absolutely disgraceful. We have not had rain in the north for quite a long time now, it has been several weeks since we have had any significant rain or any reason for damage, yet still 59 per cent of the roads are not up to scratch.

Back in October last year the proprietors of Moolawatana cattle station up north wrote to the Premier. They mentioned several terribly important things, including the fact that truck drivers refused to come to their station and that teachers took 4½ hours to travel 200 kilometres to visit students. In the past they have been asked to check for accidents and rollovers because the police are concerned about the conditions of the road and cannot get there. There is abundant proof that our roads are just not nearly in good enough condition.

Recently in April there was a dreadful situation around Arkaroola, the Flinders Ranges largest and most important tourism destination. There were people trapped there for nearly two weeks because they could not get out. An email from Dennis Walter to the Deputy Premier's office states:

Following that rain event it became apparent rather quickly that there are insufficient government resources north of Port Augusta to e ffect speedy emergency repairs to outback roads

I will condense this:

Local residents [opinions] were that road maintenance services in such circumstances we re now poorer and slower than decades ago. As visitors to Arkaroola we became frustrated by reports ap parently from the Port Augusta T ransport SA office that no funds were available to call in outside contractors

The department's staff no doubt work extremely hard, but this government does not provide nearly enough resources to them.


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