Yorkeys Crossing


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:17): This house knows very well my views on Yorkeys Crossing, and the fact that it is a very important local, statewide and interstate piece of infrastructure that is in sad need of upgrade. I take this opportunity to advise the house that a at roundabout 11 o'clock on Tuesday 23 April a road train broke down on the bridge across the gulf. This is exactly the sort of risk that I have spoken about many times. It has happened before, and I am sure it will happen again. Fortunately nobody was hurt, fortunately it wasn't at a heavy traffic time of the day, and fortunately the police were able to come and divert all of the traffic, heading between Sydney and Perth, Adelaide and Darwin, and all around Port Augusta, using that bridge—all of that traffic through the one lane that was left free and open.

The problem is that if there was a child who got bitten by a snake on the west side of Port Augusta and the ambulance could not get from the east side of Port Augusta to the west side to pick that child up and then take it back to the east side to the hospital, it would have been a disaster. If an older person had had a heart attack or any sort of serious medical emergency, it would have been a complete disaster, even on that day at 11 o'clock in the morning when it was probably just about the
freest time possible to try to get an ambulance, a fire truck, or some other emergency services vehicle across the bridge through the police escort over to the other side, pick up the other person and get them back to the hospital. We need to have Yorkeys Crossing upgraded. It is absolutely vital that that happens.

Back in late 2010 or 2011—I do not remember when exactly—a petition from Port Augusta residents with 3,084 signatures was presented to this house on exactly this issue. We see petitions come here every week. It is pretty rare to see one with more than 1,000 signatures on it. This was more than 3,000 signatures for exactly this issue. It is a risk that we cannot continue to take. The people of Port Augusta understand that tens of millions of dollars are not necessarily available instantly, but I urge the government: this must be put into a transport infrastructure plan.

You have to be able to tell the people of Port Augusta and, for that matter, the freight companies in Perth and Sydney and Darwin and Adelaide that it will be done in one year or two years, or five years perhaps, just so people know that the issue is being addressed, just so people know that it is something that will get fixed.

The government's response to just continually say, 'No, it's not a high priority; no, we've looked at the cost-benefit analysis and it doesn't stack up; no, we've got other things to spend our money on like $40 million on a footbridge from the Adelaide Oval to the Adelaide Casino' is just not cutting it. It is completely unacceptable. This piece of infrastructure which serves Port Augusta, serves our state and is part of National Highway 1 is not getting the upgrade and attention that it deserves.

In addition to this problem is the weather issue. Right now, it only takes 6 mm of rain for the existing dirt road that is Yorkeys Crossing to be put out of action. If, heaven forbid, the bridge is out of action because of a breakdown on it or some other reason that we cannot get across the bridge and it happens to be raining, then it won't even be a matter of trying to get the police to help the ambulance across the bridge to pick somebody up and take them back. It will be a genuine catastrophe because the dirt road around the outside of town that is Yorkeys Crossing cannot be used when it rains.

This is a very serious issue, Mr Deputy Speaker. I call on the government to take this seriously. This is not just a Port Augusta problem. This is a statewide problem. It would not be too hard to try and find some federal funding to support the state government on this matter. I have had costings done; I have shared them with the transport department. I think the government seriously over-estimates what would be required to simply bitumenise and give a really good all-weather road straightaway. It is in the low tens of millions of dollars to do that. The ultimate solution, down the track, is another bridge,
two lanes each direction. That is a hundreds of millions of dollars solution and we can wait for that.

Until we get there, we need to have Yorkeys Crossing upgraded to an all-weather standard, so that the risk of that small girl who might get bitten by a snake or that elderly man who might have his heart attack is diminished as much as possible so that, if absolutely necessary, there is a really good, a really quick, a really safe all-weather road that these emergency vehicles can travel on Yorkeys Crossing to bypass the traffic problems that we have in this town. This is not an isolated incident; there have been two other times where trucks have had acid spills on the road just off the bridge, and, if that got into the gulf, that raises a whole other set of serious questions.


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