Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Mayo Electorate: Infrastructure
Australia's rural towns and outer metropolitan areas are home to millions of Australians. Many of these areas are experiencing fast population growth, far beyond the growth in infrastructure and support services that is required to properly accommodate the need of the influx of people. We know that more than five million people live in the fast-growing suburbs on the outskirts of our capital cities, and these outskirts produce 13 per cent of Australia's jobs and 11 per cent of our GDP. The outskirts population is expected to grow from five million to 7.5 million people in the next decade. Many of us who live in or close to these growth areas have witnessed the incredible land transformation as empty paddocks—sometimes some of our best farmland—make way for residential and commercial development.
The rapid infill of outer metropolitan regions imposes enormous strains on our road infrastructure, public transport systems and public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, emergency services, and recreation and sporting facilities. Yet, despite this knowledge, we continue to fail to make the necessary infrastructure investments to support these areas of growth. Put simply, our growth models are broken. The eternal approach remains limited to portioning off land for development, followed by supporting infrastructure long after residents have moved in. We have it back to front. All governments—local, state and federal—must do better. Governments need to align their priorities so that we can strategically plan for growth in areas and, importantly, build the supporting infrastructure ahead of or in conjunction with the expansion of these regions.
I mentioned that our growth models are broken. What is also broken is the manner in which we fund infrastructure development. Rather than a systematic approach, which would be desirable, our methodology relies on leaders and representatives of these growth areas having to fight for every single dollar of investment. In my electorate of Mayo, I have several regions of growth. I've worked tirelessly to advocate for greater expenditure in these regions, and through my advocacy I have successfully secured nearly $240 million worth of projects. But it's always about retrofitting: $15 million for a freeway interchange at Verdun, funding for overtaking lanes at Victor Harbor and $15 million for an Adelaide Hills aquatic centre. We've received $4 million for trails in the Adelaide Hills and the Fleurieu Peninsula and some much-needed funding for the Aldinga Sports Complex, as well as piecemeal funding for our Victor Harbor and Mount Barker hospitals.
We have so much more to do. Mount Barker and Aldinga, two of my fastest-growing regions, are struggling with the massive demand on services. It's taken years of lobbying and advocacy to get funding to upgrade the Mount Barker pool, a pool that was built in the 1960s and that our kids will be swimming in this summer, and it's in yards! We have road infrastructure and a freeway that isn't coping with current demand.
The community have the right to demand the resumption of rail services to Mount Barker. We had rail infrastructure back in the 1980s, and then it was taken away from us. A mass rapid transport solution needs to be in place, and I believe rail is the way to go. We've got to be able to take that pressure off our one freeway, and we need park-and-rides. We need the extension of rail from Seaford Meadows down to Aldinga. Aldinga is a community of 15,000 people, which will increase, as it's predicted there will be another thousand blocks carved out.
The Aldinga community have recently come together to call for a swimming pool, and I support them in that call. Our secondary schools and our primary schools are bursting, and this is all because we have the growing pains of the outer-metropolitan area. We have roads that are overrepresented in South Australia's road crash statistics. On one section of Victor Harbor Road alone, 43 people have died or been seriously injured in just the last four years.
We have so much that we can do, but I think the funding system is around the wrong way. It's reactive rather than proactive. It has historically dealt with population growth in a manner that is not sustainable. Critical infrastructure is needed now. We need a better system, a new system that sets aside funding for these regions with high growth before people build their homes, not years after.