Address at the opening of the Bald Hills Interchange with Minister Peter Malinauskas and Mayor Ann Ferguson

Simon Birmingham: … everybody and welcome. It's wonderful for me to be here representing the Federal Government, representing the Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher as well as being here with a number of important colleagues. Peter Malinauskas, the South Australian Police Minister who's here representing the South Australian Transport Minister, Mayor Ann Ferguson, the Mayor of Mount Barker, Mark Goldsworthy, the local State MP, Rebecca Sharkey, the new local federal MP, and extend my congratulations publicly to Rebecca. Importantly, officials from the Department of Transport, but perhaps most importantly the people who helped to actually make this happen, this wonderful new Bald Hills Interchange. Thank you very much to those who were instrumental in the design, in the construction, in the hard yakka to actually ensure that this very important project is complete and will be used and accessed now by so many thousands of South Australians.

This is a great example of a federal government providing funding leadership and support and commitment, and then working collaboratively with state and local government to make this project happen. There's $16 million of federal funding that has gone into this $27 million project, and I want to pay particular tribute to Jamie Briggs and his work as the Member for Mayo in securing the 2013 contribution and commitment of funding for this project, and then as the Minister for- responsible for it in ensuring that it actually got the support from state government, from local government, the contracts happened and we actually of course here today have a tangible project and outcome, supported by all tiers of government, thanks to that initial hard work from Jamie.

But of course it goes back before Jamie as well. Strong advocacy over a long period of time by the local council and the local community about the merits of a project like this, because this project will make real difference to the lives of people in Mount Barker, in Littlehampton, in Nairne, throughout the Adelaide Hills by of course making their commute, their transportation so much simpler and easier. It will save time, it will make life simpler, it will of course avoid and minimise the future risk of road accidents from the congested interchange just down the freeway. So we know that this is a tangible project that actually makes not just a difference to the lives of people and ensures that the wonderful lifestyle people have here in the Adelaide Hills is dramatically enhanced by having even better access throughout the Hills, that it can improve the economic and productivity infrastructure in the region, taking heavy vehicles away from the other interchange, ensuring that those modes of transport are able to better access and get to Barker in a timely way.

Pete and I, when we got here, were asking the Mayor about the fields that are behind everybody at present, and we learned about the new varieties of Brussels sprouts that are being grown just in the field behind us, a demonstration of the economic activity happening in the Adelaide Hills; high value agricultural produce that will now of course find a faster route to market thanks to critical infrastructure like this. So we've got benefits for the residents, benefits for the economy, benefits of course for the whole of the Hills, and what is good for the Adelaide Hills is good for South Australia, because this is such a critically important road for our state. So thank you very much, and to all of our partners. Thank you again to those who made this – turned this into reality. I'm very proud to be standing alongside everybody today and to be able to be opening this wonderful new piece of road infrastructure and invite Peter Malinauskas on behalf of the South Australian Government to say a few words. Thank you.


Peter Malinauskas: Thanks Minister, and good morning to everybody on what is an outstanding day here in the Adelaide Hills. I was chatting to a few of the fellas that were working on this project and they were lamenting the weather has finally turned good just as the work is actually finished. As the Minister mentioned, this project really is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when local, state and federal governments work collaboratively in a funding model that clearly has delivered results.

Mr Birmingham mentioned the $16 million coming from the Federal Government; I'm very glad that the state government was able to contribute $8 million to this project and then also local government contributing another three million to actually make sure that this occurred. I'm really rapt that the project has been delivered on budget. It's now ready to go. Today we will see thousands of South Australians get access to using this new interchange. We project that over coming years, 8,000 people per day will use this new infrastructure facility. We've got a growing population here in the Adelaide Hills, but particularly in Mount Barker. This is a project that very much looks to the future, looks to the future of Adelaide Hills, which is only a positive thing for the state of South Australia.

Of course one other benefit that has arisen out of this project being delivered is 45 to 70 jobs that have been working day on – every day on site, contributing to the economic activity in South Australia at the moment. We remain a state government that is utterly committed to making sure there is plenty of work for those people working in an important industry here in South Australia, and we want to continue to be a government that works collaboratively with Federal Government and local government to make sure that people like those that are here today can remain in work in the years ahead. Thanks very much for coming along, and I too congratulate all those that have been involved in delivering this project on the ground. Thanks a lot.


Simon Birmingham: And finally, I would like to invite Mayor Ann Ferguson to say a few words. Good to hear the horns tooting of enthusiasm for the opening.

Ann Ferguson: Thank you Minister, and welcome everybody. This is about dreams coming true. This has been about a dream of 28 years, and you know what? If you wish it long enough, it does come true, and it's about working collaboratively with the federal, state and local government, and here were are today, celebrating what has been a dream, and I do sincerely thank the levels of government for what you have contributed to our district, and what will happen to the future, because it's about South Australia. Thank you.

Simon Birmingham: Thanks.


A wonderful example of collaboration delivering real tangible benefits for the people of the Adelaide Hills and the South Australian economy overall $27 million project and $16 million of federal funding, $8 million of state funding, $3 million of local government funding which is delivering now for thousands of Adelaide Hills residents, easier access to the city of Adelaide, will support thousands of people in Adelaide easier access here to [indistinct] of the Adelaide Hills. Real particular tangible benefit of people in Mount Barker, Littlehampton, Nairne, but also for many local businesses, wine businesses, agricultural businesses for getting more of their produce to export markets in a faster, more efficient time, which can only be of benefit in creating more jobs right across the South Australian economy.

Question: Mayor, can we ask you the benefits for Mount Barker, it’s been a long time coming. What does it actually mean – does it end frustration for people certainly this end of the town?

Ann Ferguson: Well it’s not only people that live in Mount Barker but it’s those coming to Mount Barker. It’s the Murray Bridges, the Adelaide Hills residents that want to get on to the freeway and the access will be so much easier and take about 10 minutes off their journey, and time is money. So we will be eternally grateful for what has happened here today with the three levels of government. It’s fantastic.

Question: So for the log jams, they will come to an end on the one interchange that was already here?

Ann Ferguson: They will come to an end here in Mount Barker but may continue at Glen Osmond.

Question: Minister Malinauskas, is this one of the great state projects, and do you think that Mount Barker people will get value out of their money?

Peter Malinauskas: Look this has been a great project. It really is a fine example of the three levels of government working together to deliver a real outcome, not just in terms of the jobs that are working here but also for an improved productive piece of infrastructure that will benefit so many South Australians. We project that 8,000 people a day will be using this piece of infrastructure in the years to come, particularly as we continue to see an expanding population here in the Adelaide Hills.

Question: Do you think this is better value for money than the Hackney Road tunnel for instance?

Peter Malinauskas: Look we just think this is a great example of a really productive piece of infrastructure – 8,000 people a day will be using this in the years to come, particularly those residents within the Adelaide Hills and it’s just a fine example of a state government working collaboratively with the Federal Government and local government to get the funding in place to deliver a real outcome.

Question: … obviously floated this idea of a change to GST, is it something that will actually go ahead?

Simon Birmingham: Well I would hope that the states and territories be cooperative and constructive in their discussions. This is about seizing an opportunity once the GST payments come back into a sort of more normal equilibrium to ensure that in future no state suffers any severe period of disadvantage in GST distribution from these(*).

Question: Can you realistically think you can sort of sell it to South Australia? Jay’s already come out and said you know it’s not a good thing for the state.

Simon Birmingham: Well the point that’s being made is that this is being proposed at a time where no state will see any actual change to their GST receipts as a result of the proposal but instead is really just about putting in place a floor that could be to the benefit of any state in future if they were to go through the type of short term surge the likes of which WA has had.

Question: I guess then that you’re hopeful that you can … there’s obviously been a bit of, well several … Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, have all sort of come out straight away and gone we don’t like this idea, do you think you can turn them around?

Simon Birmingham: I would urge everybody just to step back for a minute and actually have a sensible and constructive conversation because in the long run what is being proposed could benefit any state in future, who knows what the different economic circumstances of different states will be over the long run so every single state should look at this and think well if I face the circumstance where my share of the GST was dropping to some 30 cents in the dollar of what was being paid in my state, would I think that was unfair? And indeed I think most premiers if put in that position would say yes that probably is unfair and they ought to then give consideration to how to address that and the time to address it is in a period of time when nobody was disadvantaged by the immediacy of any changes; that’s the time when we should be able to have constructive discussions.

Question: This is an idea backed by the entire party or has sort of the Prime Minister gone off on his own a little bit here?

Simon Birmingham: This is an issue of course that has been a subject of intense debate for a number of years. The Prime Minister is seizing the right time, with the right idea, to come up with the right solution and it should not be to disadvantage of anybody at all.