MICHAEL SMYTH: Well, a few months ago on this program we were speaking to our traffic guru Nick Green about the increasing delays being faced by Adelaide drivers and the frustration that it’s causing and he said if you think things are bad now, just wait until our train network gets busier – more patrons, more trains, boom gates down for longer holding things up. Well, it appears someone was listening with news today that as part of the federal budget $433 million [$443 million] will be allocated to build rail underpasses at four key locations. One is the Leader Street crossing behind the showgrounds there at Wayville. The other three are around Bowden and Brompton. They’re all in the federal seat of Adelaide…
MICHAEL SMYTH: We’re talking to the federal Member for Adelaide, Kate Ellis. Simon Birmingham is a Liberal Senator for South Australia. Senator, good afternoon to you.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good afternoon, Michael. Good afternoon to your listeners.
MICHAEL SMYTH: Do you welcome this spending?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, anything, Michael, that improves the amenity for the people of Adelaide is of course welcome but my concern here is not so much with this announcement but it’s whether this announcement will be delivered because we do see such a track record under this Government of promises being made but the delivery never materialising and a good one that many of your listeners would recall was, of course, the O-Bahn extension and, indeed, one of Kate Ellis’s own newsletters in July 2009 hailed ‘the Labor Government is investing $61 million in the Adelaide O-Bahn track extension to make travel around the city more efficient’. Well, of course, that one never materialised.
We have other projects like the Darlington overpass that’s been talked about and hailed and welcomed. It never materialised. There is, of course, water projects. A couple from the last election that have been put off the agenda – the east Adelaide stormwater project, the Menindee Lakes redevelopment to save hundreds, thousands, billions of litres of water for the Murray-Darling system. It’s been put off the agenda, so this Government is very strong on its announcement but it’s the delivery and the follow through that I worry about.
MICHAEL SMYTH: Are there other things in South Australia that 443 million should be spent on or is it right to have these sort of infrastructure projects as a priority?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, this, of course, is part of the budget drip feed and we’ll obviously have to look at the detail as to see what else, if anything else, is being funded out of the budget tomorrow night and have a look at the overall arrangements there. I am concerned that we seem to have a system in place where a whole bunch of infrastructure funding is suddenly being brought forward, potentially for spending or allocation this year. It’s part of the Government’s plan to cook the books and create a dodgy surplus in the next financial year but, look, we want to see good infrastructure spending, the best use of infrastructure dollars and obviously, most importantly, when things are promised we want to see them delivered.
MICHAEL SMYTH: Simon Birmingham, thank you for your time. Simon Birmingham’s a Liberal Senator for South Australia.