Yorkeys Crossing sealing project

16 Mar 2021

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:42): It is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak about the very recent sealing of the bottom approximately two kilometres of Yorkeys Crossing adjacent to the very important Davenport Aboriginal community on the north side of Port Augusta. I thank the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport very much for making this happen.

This is a project that people locally have wanted for a very long time. For those in the chamber who may not be familiar with Yorkeys Crossing, it is a 21 or 22-kilometre dirt road that starts on the eastern side of the gulf in Port Augusta, just off the main national Highway 1, and heads probably north-north-west, I would say, and joins up with national Highway 1 heading up north of Port Augusta towards Alice Springs and goes around the top of the gulf.

It was incredibly important for decades and decades. Initially, when there was not even a bridge across the gulf in Port Augusta, that was the road access around the top of the gulf. It was a long way from Port Augusta. When a bridge was built, the original Great Western Bridge, it could not take such heavy traffic. Then the Joy Baluch AM Bridge, as it is now called, was built, but wide loads and heavy loads still needed another access. I am very pleased that the Joy Baluch AM Bridge is being duplicated at the moment as well.

Yorkeys Crossing has been necessary for a long time for a wide range of reasons when the mainstream road access that supports most passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles is not appropriate. The reason that it was so important to seal the bottom end of Yorkeys Crossing is that it runs north-south on the western side of the Davenport community. As is the case in most of South Australia, and certainly in Port Augusta, wind comes in predominantly from the west, and so the wind from the west crossing some sandhills, then crossing the previously unsealed Yorkeys Crossing and then crossing the Davenport community, meant that every time a car or a truck, any vehicle whatsoever, went up and down Yorkeys Crossing adjacent to the Davenport community the Davenport community was then covered in dust.

There are a range of reasons why that is not good for people's homes, but especially all the more so when you have a community of people with poorer health situations than the average in South Australia and Australia. Many of the people in the Davenport community, unfortunately, are suffering from serious respiratory challenges. That dust across the community has caused the people who live there a lot of grief for a long time and the community has been campaigning for it to happen for an extremely long time.

Davenport Community Council is led by chair Janice McKenzie and CEO Lavene Ngatokoura. Another person I would like to mention is Mr Malcolm (Tiger) McKenzie, who has been a very strong advocate for this program as well. They are three people who come to mind, but certainly there are others. When we came into government I said to the Davenport community that I and our government would do everything we possibly could to get this bit of road sealed so that they would not have the ongoing dust problem that has tormented them for so long.

I am incredibly grateful that this has happened three years into our government. Would it have been better if it were two years into government, would it have been better one year into government? Yes, of course it would have been, but it is not easy to get the funding to do these important jobs, and I am very pleased to have been supported by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to make this happen. This will make an enormous difference to the community of Davenport.

Any one of us who happened to live downwind from a very significant dirt road with regular traffic on it, including truck traffic, would understand the stress that goes with that, but when you add to that the importance of providing extra health protection from this dust to a community that does have a lot of people with respiratory illness living in it, this is incredibly important. I am really pleased to have done it. I commend the Davenport community for working with me for so long and I am really pleased that we have been able to deliver this for them.