House debates

Tuesday, 28 March 2006



9:25 pm

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (Wakefield, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to draw to the attention of the House the success of the AusLink program and the various funding mechanisms in it for people in rural and regional Australia. In the last week I have been to a community meeting of the residents of Thompsons Beach in the Dublin institute, where they were looking at the sealing of Ruskins Road. This road is the only ingress and egress point for this community. Some 300 movements a day are recorded on this road. The only option this community has to get this road sealed, because the council itself has a small rate base and a large amount of roads it needs to maintain, is Australian government funding through programs such as Roads to Recovery and black spot. The value of the whole AusLink program—which includes Roads to Recovery, black spot and additional funding for South Australia of some $26.3 million—provides an option for these communities to look for some hope. Last year the council devoted the entire $156,000 it received to start that process. I look forward to the continuation of this program, because for many small communities, such as the community at Thompsons Beach, this provides an avenue forward. I encourage the government to continue with this program, because it gives those communities an option for roads.

Just as importantly, though, it provides some certainty and some options for communities to have an input. The community of Port Wakefield, in the northern part of the Wakefield electorate, has been seeking for some time some certainty in terms of whether a bypass is going to be constructed around the town of Port Wakefield. In the past there has been a degree of confusion as to who is responsible, given that it is a national highway. People could not seem to get their wishes known. The AusLink planning process now includes a corridor planning process. Stakeholders—ranging from each level of government through to industry groups, small businesses and the community—realise now that they have an opportunity to have input into what the requirements are for not only the actual highway but the feeder roads into that highway.

I was at a meeting recently where I had feedback from constituents who were concerned. I highlighted to them how the AusLink planning process works and the fact that local communities and local governments, working with the state government, can have input into the planning process. We have seen local government take the lead and have some community consultation. We have seen the state government, Transport SA reps, consulting with people. We have gone from a situation of frustration and some considerable antagonism towards potential development to people realising that here is a planning process where their needs and interests can be heard and recognised. As they look at the next five-year window of funding, there is an opportunity to identify the priority that something like a bypass around the town of Port Wakefield will have.

Lastly, I wish to also address the strategic regional program looking at land transport concepts. Regional growth in Wakefield is large, and there are a number of burgeoning industries there which are starting to employ more people. One of the significant things they have recognised that they need for growth is efficient transport systems. This program is bringing together coalitions of local governments—crossing local government boundaries—organisations, business and community groups who see the potential to collaborate and to access funding under AusLink so that they can see infrastructure development which will give them efficient and effective transport, not just because the transport is good to have but because of the large flow-on effects that it has for the viability of industry, for, importantly, the employment opportunities that that brings and for the growth and sustainment for smaller regional and rural communities. I wish to commend the government for the AusLink program.

Photo of David HawkerDavid Hawker (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! It being 9.30 pm, the debate is interrupted.