House debates

Tuesday, 3 March 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020

4:57 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on a number of local priorities for the electorate of Mayo for the upcoming 2020-21 budget. These local priorities have been identified in consultation with my community, and I trust that the government will recognise that many of these projects have a renewed urgency in light of both the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island bushfires and are vital to the long-term recovery of the regions.

With respect to rural and regional health care, the provision of health care across Kangaroo Island has always been a challenge, with disparate communities distributed across an area one-third larger than the greater Adelaide region. Currently, health services are overwhelmingly concentrated in the island's largest town of Kingscote, leaving other communities on the almost 4,500-square kilometres of island quite isolated from quality health care. With the community still reeling from the recent bushfires and the importance of providing health care to all sections of the community, there has never been a greater need to acknowledge the physical and mental toll of natural disasters. The community preferred solution would see the establishment of a nurse practitioner outreach service on the island, with the potential to develop further into a GP outreach service once demand is confirmed. Based in Kingscote, the practitioner would travel to the townships of Parndana, some 40 kilometres away, and Penneshaw, some 60 kilometres away, and potentially also American River, on a regular basis and provide health services to isolated communities.

Medicare services in Mount Barker are desperately needed. The installation of the Medicare services centre with Centrelink at Victor Harbor has been a great success, and I'd like to thank the government for their constructive engagement with me on the centre. We advocated successfully for that. It means that Medicare sits inside the Centrelink office at Victor Harbor. I now ask the government to extend the same service to one of South Australia's largest and fastest-growing regional centres, Mount Barker.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that Mount Barker is one of the fastest-growing regional centres in South Australia and is projected to grow from its current population of approximately 33,000 to 55,000 by 2036. The Mount Barker service centre is the other major government service centre in Mayo, and I urge the government to add Medicare to this site. A Medicare service centre in Mount Barker would service a population area that would reasonably include the Adelaide Hills, Strathalbyn, Murray Bridge, Mannum and the Coorong for a total of almost 120,000 people and growing every year. A centre in Mount Barker would predominantly cater for rural and regional communities with a higher average age than metropolitan Adelaide, with digital literacy lower amongst elderly Australians, who often struggle to use online services. Demand for the centre's service, I believe, would be high.

With respect to supplementary road funding, this is something I have been championing in this chamber since I was elected. Supplementary road funding is provided to South Australia in recognition of the fact that our state has more than 11 per cent of the nation's local road network and seven per cent of the population but otherwise receives around five per cent of the nation's share of road funding. It's a peculiarity and it's unfair. In 2017, Centre Alliance negotiated for this funding to be reinstated after it was cut by the Abbott government in 2014. In last year's budget, I welcomed the announcement that the government set aside a further $40 million over two years for supplementary road funding for South Australia, which provides Mayo councils with $4.6 million for the much-needed upgrade of local roads. I strongly urge the government to consider and continue supplementary road funding in ongoing recognition of the inequality that would otherwise result for South Australia if this funding were removed.

There is a freeway interchange in my electorate which, I'm sure you find hard to believe, is a one-way freeway interchange. That is what is known as the Verdun interchange. The interchange on the South Eastern Freeway of Verdun currently only accepts traffic in half of all possible directions: leaving the freeway when driving from Adelaide and entering the freeway when heading towards Adelaide. Upgrading the interchange to allow traffic to enter the freeway when heading from Adelaide and to leave the freeway when heading towards Adelaide would aid traffic flow, especially by reducing unnecessary flow-through traffic into the major tourist town of Hahndorf, particularly trucks, as many local communities must drive through the main street of Hahndorf with its heavy pedestrian traffic in order to return to the freeway. Conversely, it would also allow easier access for tourists seeking to travel to visit Hahndorf and the wider Adelaide Hills region. While Hahndorf itself was not in the fire scar, its survival is tied to the tourism of the Adelaide Hills and the ability for tourists to travel easily to and from the Adelaide Hills.

I have spoken at length with regard to Victor Harbour Road and Main South Road in this place, but I will continue to pursue this until state and federal governments recognise that these projects are in urgent need of funding. In relation to Victor Harbour Road—it being the main artery from southern Adelaide to the major regional centre of Victor Harbour—it has long been in need of additional overtaking lanes and an eventual upgrade to double lanes. Data shows that between 2012 and 2016 there was an increase in traffic of some 34 per cent. During that same period 43 people were either sadly killed or seriously injured. As The Advertiser has previously reported, this equates to close to one person killed or maimed for every kilometre of road over five years.

In relation to Main South Road, I recognise the state government made crucial commitments to upgrade Main South Road to Sellicks Beach. However, I also seek a commitment from the federal government to contribute towards funding an upgrade of Main South Road between Sellicks Beach and Cape Jervis at the far end of the Fleurieu. One segment of Main South Road in particular that needs further upgrading is the hilly, winding section north-east of the township of Yankalilla, between the Inman Valley and the township of Myponga. It's a road I drive on very regularly. This segment also sadly had a high count of serious injuries between 2012 and 2016.

Another road issue and passenger issue is the Aldinga passenger rail. The community of Aldinga, on the outer edges of metropolitan Adelaide, has been growing rapidly at 8.7 per cent between 2011 and 2016, far above the average growth rate of 2.1 per cent per annum. This is likely only to continue upwards with the new Aldinga reception-to-year-12 school, which is expected to open in the 2022 school year. Extending the passenger rail from Seaford southwards towards Aldinga is an important medium- to long-term plan for this growing community, and I urge the state and federal governments to list this on their schedule. With the provision of adequate infrastructure investments, the federal government will ensure that this area can sustainably cater for current and future generations.

My electorate holds the end of the River Murray, the great Murray Mouth. The lower River Murray lakes and Coorong are in urgent need of a dedicated research institute with a focus on water monitoring and management, environmental resilience, climate change mitigation and adaption. It is the most vulnerable part of the river. Specifically, the proposed institute could look at issues such as real-time summaries of the ecological condition of the river to allow for the provision of advice and remedies for intermediate and extreme drought events and to find new solutions for managing water, salinity and nutrient levels in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth in the context of real-time ebb-and-flow conditions. I think spending money on the Murray Mouth is imperative for the health of the whole river.

Speaking of environmental issues: Kangaroo Island is a magical place, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I would certainly urge you to come and visit. One issue we do have on Kangaroo Island is a number of federal animals. We do have some solutions to address this. One in particular is a way that we can get rid of a feral cat issue that we have. There is an eradication program. To ensure that the program reaches its successful conclusion, we will need to make sure that that program is funded into the future. The island is renowned for its environmental tourism and stands to greatly benefit from the complete eradication of feral cats to help preserve its drawcard and environmental heritage. This has only become more important as the community works to protect endangered and vulnerable native species following our devastating fires.

Similarly, the agricultural, economic and environmental destruction caused by feral pigs on Kangaroo Island has been greatly heightened after the Ravine bushfire on the island over January. The best, most recent estimate of the economic cost of feral pigs on Kangaroo Island is $1.65 million between 2015 and 2017, with around half of this impact in 2017 alone. The feral pig containment and eradication work has become increasingly important to island landholders and is now urgent in the wake of bushfires. The Kangaroo Island Landscape Board has confirmed to me that their feral pig eradication work is one of the most urgent priorities, especially as the bushfire recovery effort transition towards long-term and strategic recovery efforts.

The federal government has an important opportunity to capitalise on the excellent outcomes flowing from its initial rapid and timely support. I strongly urge the federal government to consider a $2 million support package over five years for the eradication of feral species. That will help protect agriculture, our economy and our environment.

With the fires we've also had significant damage to our wine region in the Adelaide Hills. The support package provided by the government to grow export of Australian wine and to increase international visitors to Australian wine regions, known as Wine Australia's Export and Regional Wine Support Package, has been a solid success, assisting in growing wine exports by approximately 50 per cent over the three years since its commencement in mid-2016 and supporting local wine regions to promote themselves both nationally and internationally.

I encourage the government to continue to support such an initiative for the wine and cider regions alongside the funding recently provided for the purposes of tourism recovery following the fires. I also encourage the government to establish a national vine health authority modelled on South Australia's own successful Vinehealth Australia, with the body to establish and monitor a national biosecurity strategy that incorporates a national phylloxera strategy. South Australian wine exports have reached $1.79 billion and now generate over $2 billion in revenue for South Australia. In 2019, South Australia contributed almost one-third of the national crush. We are the wine state. However, those figures will drop substantially without careful and urgent management of biosecurity hazards.

Aged care is an issue that I talk about a lot in this place. It's an issue that I care very, very deeply about. The interim report entitled Aged care in Australia: A shocking tale of neglect by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Qaulity and Safety calls the home-care package system cruel and discriminatory. My office has assisted numerous constituents and their families to negotiate and navigate the aged-care system. I can attest to the accuracy of that description. I'm calling on the government to address the unreasonable delays experienced by those elderly Australians languishing on the national prioritisation queue. The government must release sufficient home-care packages to ensure that no individual must wait more than 30 days to receive a home-care package. Further, these packages need to be at levels that actually meet their needs.

There is also an urgent requirement to provide additional aged-care funding approval rounds to ensure that rural and regional residential aged-care providers secure additional beds and access the capital grant program to upgrade their facilities. One example in my electorate in Mayo is Restvale facility in Lobethal. Ensuring the ongoing viability of rural and regional residential aged-care facilities enables elderly Australians to ensure that they stay in their community, and their social and mental health benefits will continue while they are in their community. I think it's critical that we make sure that we don't leave rural and regional Australia behind with respect to aged care. This is a deep concern held by many in our community. Our aged-care facilities, particularly in our smaller towns, are not glitzy, glass brand-new buildings. In many cases they were built in the 1920s or 1930s, perhaps even older. They were originally hospitals and then reshaped into aged-care homes. In our communities, we have an enormous amount of volunteers, people from our community that support our aged-care facilities, but I really am calling on government for a different approach to how we take care of rural and regional elderly Australians, particularly in our aged-care homes.

(Quorum formed)


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