House debates

Monday, 27 November 2023


Truro Bypass Project

7:40 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My community is still reeling from the decision announced nearly two weeks ago to rip funding away from the Truro bypass. This is a vital project that would have seen a significant amount of heavy freight redirected out of the suburbs of Adelaide—particularly the suburbs of my electorate of Sturt—and around the back of the Adelaide Hills, which is a much safer and more sensible place for that heavy freight to be distributed.

This is freight that is not destined for the suburbs of Adelaide. In fact, most people react with surprise if not shock to learn that if you're sending heavy freight from the city of Melbourne to the city of Perth, you drive through suburban Adelaide on Highway 1 because Portrush Road, which runs right through my electorate, is designated as Highway 1. The Princes Highway runs down through the tollgate into the suburbs of Adelaide, up Portrush and Hempstead, across Grand Junction and then north again. No other metropolitan city in this country has their main heavy freight route running through their suburbs.

We were very excited when the former Liberal governments at a state and federal level identified and committed to investing in the Truro bypass. They put that money in the budgets. The state Labor government have that money in their budget. It's in the budget.

I recognise how the minister would have tried to sell all these dramatic cuts to infrastructure to the backbench of the Labor Party. I can assist the member for Hasluck by saying that the member for Boothby, her colleague, was at a community meeting with me last Monday. The member for Boothby indicated that she'd had a conversation with the infrastructure minister and the infrastructure minister had said: 'Well, we can fund that project. If that's an important priority, we'll find a way to fund it.' This was a comment made by the member for Boothby at a significant public meeting. I appreciate the member for Hasluck giving me the opportunity to get that on the record in the parliament, and I'm sure the member for Boothby will thank the member for Hasluck for providing that opportunity!

We need this decision reversed. We have had the state Labor infrastructure minister say very publicly that they are still committed to this project. It is in the state budget and it was in the federal budget. The decision was made many years ago to invest in this project. It's a little over $200 million. We all understand some of these projects have increased in price, but the state Labor government see it as a priority. The member for Boothby claims it's a priority. It's certainly a priority for me and my community, for the local government sector in my area and throughout that corridor.

It is an obvious project and an obvious priority, and it has fallen victim to a disgraceful and atrocious decision to rip money out of that project to instead finance other projects that are priorities of this Labor government. My community knows that that priority—getting heavy freight out of my suburbs—is not a priority of this Labor government, and they will have something to say about that when they get the opportunity to send a message to this government at the next federal election. It's not only my seat of Sturt that are furious about this; the people in electorates like Boothby and Adelaide are equally significantly affected.

We have schools along the route. We've got 17 sets of lights where these big B-doubles thunder down through the suburbs. And we're not critical of the trucking industry whatsoever. We're grateful for that heavy freight. Freight is the lifeblood of our economy, replenishing our supermarkets, going to export markets and earning money in our economy. But it's very sensible—and the trucking industry were at this public meeting and they support the fact—that it would be better to have an efficient bypass route going around the back of the Adelaide Hills for that heavy freight, particularly when it never needs to come into Adelaide but for the fact that that is the current route that we governments have told heavy vehicles to use. They would much rather use a more efficient route.

The great excitement for us, which has been cruelly ripped away from our community just before Christmas, was investing in that Truro bypass, plugging in the freight from Monarto up to Truro and moving all that heavy freight out of suburban Adelaide.

I'll keep fighting for this, and in the coalition we'll keep fighting to get this decision reversed. It's a very sensible investment. It has a very good rating from Infrastructure Australia. It is seen as a natural, significant priority that also brings enormous freight efficiency and economic benefit. The disgraceful decision of this Labor government to rip that money out needs to be reversed. I will keep fighting in my community to see that happen. We will use people power to send the strongest message imaginable that our community deserves to be invested in.