I, too, would like to speak on this bill and reflect on rail that affects my electorate, such as the Gawler electrification. The electrification of the Gawler line, which goes through my electorate from the city through to Ovingham, Dudley Park, Prospect—
The Hon. R. SANDERSON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is very relevant. We are talking about the Barossa rail corridor bill, and I believe it would be quite relevant to talk about Labor's track record on rail and how hypocritical it might be that a member of the Labor Party sat there for 16 years of government, the entire time this railway line was not functioning, and did nothing. Now suddenly it becomes important.
The Hon. R. SANDERSON: What is important to the people in my electorate is the—
The Hon. R. SANDERSON: —electrification of the Gawler line, which was announced three times by Labor and cancelled twice. It was announced in 2008 and 2013 and cancelled both times, and then announced again in 2018. To quote from my own words through the Public Works Committee:
The cancellation of the Gawler electrification project meant the loss of $76 million of commonwealth government funding, an approximate cost penalty of $70 million if the government should restart the project, and a write-down of over $40 million by the Auditor-General as underutilised infrastructure. This is a total loss of over $186 million, yet the reason for abandoning the project was supposedly a lack of funds.
In the lead-up to the 2014 election a figure of $160 million was [somehow] found for the O-Bahn project and was announced by transport minister Stephen Mullighan in February 2014, only weeks [if not days] prior to the election, just to save a few minutes for the users of the O-Bahn.
Obviously a political move, as this is today regarding the Barossa train.
Again, Labor members do not think about the whole state: they think about electorates and winning electorates. Well, my electorate of Adelaide did not want the O-Bahn through Rymill Park and they fought against it. It happened. The Gawler electrification was cancelled as a consequence because they did not have the money, but they found the money to help the north-east suburbs. I am just making the point that this is always political, unfortunately, when it comes to Labor.
I would like to put on the record the amazing work of residents, particularly Kate Barrett, who lives in Prospect and has a great fondness for the railway line. In fact, she set up the Friends of the Dudley Park Railway Station and co-opted, with my help, the Prospect Blair Athol Lions. I have been involved in many of the tree plantings and working bees at the Dudley Park Railway Station, and Kate has been a very strong advocate for the greening and beautification along the whole railway corridor. She even puts out her own newsletters to keep all the residents informed, and she is doing an amazing job to hold both the state government and the council to account.
The state government has put in $500,000 to the greening and improvement of the streetscape along the corridor, particularly in the Prospect council area, which is the Ovingham and Dudley Park stations. Kate is keeping a close eye on what the council does with that money, because the grant was given to the Prospect council to protect the trees.
Unfortunately, there were trees that did have to be cut down for the electrification because of fire danger and they were overhanging the railway lines. Originally, around 300 trees were going to be cut down and, through the advocacy from my office, via people such as Kate Barrett and other residents putting pressure on DPTI and making sure they relooked at the plans and relooked at the plans, that was reduced to approximately 64 trees, from the original figure of 300.
Thank you to the community for their hard work and effort in lobbying, and to my electorate office for taking all the calls and emails and passing that onto the minister, who has listened. I am really pleased that we have minimised the removal of trees because people in my electorate, particularly in Prospect, love trees. They love greening and they really care for the environment.
Again, further improvements have been made along this railway line, with the announcement of the Ovingham overpass, which will stop the traffic hazards. Currently, the interstate trains, the freight trains that carry all the goods, hold up the traffic there for up to 10 minutes at a time, so it is important to fix that intersection. I believe, from talking to staff in the department, that this has been on the books to be an overpass for over 20 years. I have spoken to people who have been in the department that entire time.
It was always going to be an overpass under the Labor government, for their 16 years, and it still continues. They have looked at an underpass and all the different options. However, again playing political games, the member for Croydon, the Leader of the Opposition, suggests that it should be an underpass. He does that just to cause trouble in my electorate, of course, and to grandstand.
The unfortunate thing for people in his electorate of Croydon is that running a railway line under Torrens Road at Ovingham would require 109 properties to be demolished, at a further cost of $61 million, and those 109 properties are actually all in the member for Croydon's electorate. But he does not care about that, because all he cares about is political pointscoring and game playing, and making it seem as if an underpass is a better idea.
It is not; it would be very disruptive and a lot of people would lose their houses and their businesses should this be an underpass, despite the difficulty. You would have to reroute the train, the freight, you would have to build two extra lines temporarily, and then you would have to move them back. It is a complete nightmare and not even possible. Again, it just shows that Labor is motivated by politics, and politics only.
The concept plans for the Ovingham crossing, the things that we have heard and that have been included, include rain gardens for sustainable management of stormwater, realignment of Napier Street for safety and improved access to residential areas and schools, landscaped bush tucker walk, retention of as many trees as possible to provide a buffer for housing, new fencing with acoustic treatment to rear of housing, nature play space with re-used timber and natural materials, landscaping for enhanced amenity and buffer to housing, additional landscaping along old Churchill Road, reinstatement of Guthrie Street access to Torrens Road, local road connections under the bridge to provide improved access in and out of residential areas, and increased visual surveillance for safety.
There will be a plaza area to be used for small events and activities, including opportunities for the creation of public art. In the concept plans, there are community courts to meet local open space needs and create active safe places. There will also be additional car parking for businesses and increased footpath width for outdoor trading, along with improved access in and out of residential areas and protected left and right-hand turns into Chief Street and Napier Street for safety.
There were five community consultation meetings after there was a concept plan because having community meetings when there is no plan is pointless. Labor held them very early, again for political pointscoring, just to make it look like we were not doing anything. There was nothing to consult on at that point. Once there was a concept plan, there were five different public consultation meetings on both sides of the tracks, in Ovingham as well as in the member for Croydon's electorate at Brompton Primary School.
I attended all those to hear the community's concerns and to make sure that DPTI, or DIT as they are now called, were listening to the concerns of residents and coming up with solutions. I am really pleased that they have. There are some amazing improvements based on feedback, because of course it is the people who live around the area who know the impacts of a local project. Having access to the staff in the department is invaluable and really gets that feedback through. I am really looking forward to seeing the amazing improvements that will come from the Ovingham overpass as well as the Gawler electrification and the beautification along the railway corridor.