Transcript of Interview: ABC 891 Adelaide Mornings with Ian Henschke

Interview

BPC048/2014

04 June 2014

Ian Henschke: And now, to another local celebrity, Jamie Briggs, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and Federal Member for Mayo. In fact, that's Mr Downer's old seat. Good morning Jamie Briggs.

Jamie Briggs: Good morning Ian, how are you?

Ian Henschke: Good. Has he sold his house yet? I drove past the other day; saw the sign on it still. The log cabin in the hills.

Jamie Briggs: Look, I don't know. The High Commissioner is off doing great work in London for the Australian people, but I'm not sure whether the log cabin has been sold yet.

Ian Henschke: Okay. Now, the reason we're talking to you this morning is because you've now got some money to fix our roads, black spots.

Jamie Briggs: Indeed. In South Australia, Ian, we've announced nearly $6 million worth of black spots funding for this year, but very importantly next year we're increasing the amount from across the country by $100 million in each of the next two years. So over the next two years there'll be $320 million available across Australia to target black spots, particularly black spots in regional areas.

Ian Henschke: Okay. Can you put Beehive Road on it this morning? I don't know whether you caught the program this morning, but we actually had a gentleman ring us and say that there's a road down there called Beehive Road where they've got potholes that are 10 centimetres deep.

Jamie Briggs: Where's Beehive Road?

Ian Henschke: In the Southern Mallee, Southern Mallee.

Jamie Briggs: Right. Well, the Southern Mallee Council, if it's a black spot and it fits the criteria; I would urge them to be doing the work to get a submission in. Rowan Ramsey is the Member for Grey, he's the chair of the South Australian black spots committee, which includes South Australian police and other experts, the RAA as well and they consider applications from anyone really, but particularly from local councils. And I would say to every local council across South Australia there is additional money next year, a substantial amount extra in the next two years and if they've got potential roads which can fit the program criteria they should be making applications for them.

Ian Henschke: What's the definition of a black spot? Because this road apparently in the Southern Mallee wouldn't be used by a lot of people from the looks of it, he's sent in a picture of it, but the point is if you did use it and you didn't know about that road it would be like one of those ones on Kangaroo Island where if you go off the edge it can kill you.

Jamie Briggs: Yeah and that's an extremely good point and one of the things I'm doing right now is reviewing the criteria. At the moment to qualify for the program you need what's called a crash history over the last five years of either fatalities or incidents or injuries, you need to have a what's called a BCR, which is the amount of money recovered for every dollar spent of above two, so as long as a project gets back $2 in economic activity for every dollar spent by the Government you will qualify, or you'll qualify through a safety audit process. Now you rightly recognise and identify, Ian, that one of the problems, particularly in smaller regional councils is the traffic. Kangaroo Island's a perfect example. The traffic numbers often don't mean that the projects can meet the criteria. So what I want to do is look at the criteria to make it easier to hit grey spots. if you like, rather than black spots. So we're improving roads before the fatality or before the injury and with the additional money in the next two years I think there's a great opportunity to improve—you know, I was making this point exactly to my department just yesterday that I would say in my own electorate, the most dangerous roads would be on Kangaroo Island.

Ian Henschke: Yeah.

Jamie Briggs: Because, you know, there are issues obviously on Kangaroo Island. Part of the unique attraction of Kangaroo Island indeed is that it is rugged, but of course that means it's dangerous and Mayor Jane Bates often raises these issues with me.

Ian Henschke: Now, Jamie Briggs, so the Member for Mayo looks after Kangaroo Island?

Jamie Briggs: Indeed, proudly. It's a great part of my electorate. All of my electorate is great Ian, as you know, as a constituent.

Ian Henschke: Yeah. Well, actually, I'll raise that with you because I do know the electorate very well and in fact one of the roads that has been given a black spot is Corkscrew Road and I don't remember any fatality happening on that road at all. So how did that get in there?

Jamie Briggs: Well, Corkscrew Road…

Ian Henschke: Anything to do with the tour down under?

Jamie Briggs: Well, there's been four injury crashes in the last five years to 2012 so it met the criteria.

Ian Henschke: Didn't have a fatality though, did it?

Jamie Briggs: No it didn't, but as I said, it didn't necessarily need fatalities. It needs either fatalities or injuries or indeed incidents. And what we're doing there is installing safety barriers and end terminals at targeted locations, installing advisory speed signage and curve alignment markers on all curves, edge line marking, audio tactile line marking, trim and remove vegetation and install cyclist related signage.

Ian Henschke: Hang on.

Jamie Briggs: [Indistinct] BCR on this project. Every dollar spent by the Government on this project will bring back an improvement of $20 so it has an enormous BCR.

Ian Henschke: Now Jamie.

Jamie Briggs: Yes Ian.

Ian Henschke: Now Jamie Briggs, you would know that road. Why would you need audio tactile markings on a road which is probably only about three kilometres long? You're not going to fall asleep on it.

Jamie Briggs: Well, 2.2 to 3.73 so there is about 1.5 kilometres of work to be done. The specifics, the Adelaide Hills Council will I'm sure be able to talk you through the specifics, but you know, it's not a particularly safe road Corkscrew Road, particularly because there are a lot of cyclists on it, as you know. And as people want to challenge themselves, you have to have some capacity to ride a bike to go up Corkscrew Road, I can say. But, in that respect it is increasing the danger of it with blind corners and so forth. So I think $82,000 spent on Corkscrew Road has obviously met the criteria, it's been approved by the committee and therefore it'll go ahead.

Ian Henschke: Alright. Now a couple of other questions for you Jamie Briggs, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure in the Federal Government. Federal Member for Mayo. We've actually had someone asked about why doesn't any money get spent on your peninsula roads? One main road is that bad that two trucks can't pass each other unless they get off the road. Now I also know—and it says someone will get killed on that road says Shannon. So could Shannon go to the local council now and say look, next year they're going to have grey spots, could they talk to their council about that particular road?

Jamie Briggs: I would absolutely urge Shannon to do so, absolutely urge Shannon to do so. This is an issue, I must say, Rowan Ramsey has pursued with some vigour that the criteria makes it difficult—makes it more difficult for, particularly, small regional councils with not huge numbers of traffic on them to meet the criteria. So this is one of the issues I would like to address with the criteria. But, really importantly, we can't give money or funding to a project if it hasn't had an application put in. You can't obviously get access to a program, if it's not being considered by the council to put an application in. I'll be writing to councils about this. We need to encourage them to be much more proactive in contacting and submitting applications to ensure that we are where there are potential accident hotspots—hotspots where there's been accidents, there's been fatalities, obviously we want to target where there's been injuries, obviously we want to target—but if we can prevent incidents as well, Ian, that's obviously a good use of taxpayers money because the cost of—the cost of deaths or…

Ian Henschke: Oh yeah, I mean there can be, there can be…

Jamie Briggs: …are enormous, absolutely.

Ian Henschke: …they're terrible. There was one particular stop sign that was down, I think, on that road where you get the ferry to Kangaroo Island a few years ago where two people had been killed in the one spot, two motorcyclists had been killed in the one spot. You probably know the one, do you? You know the one that's—came down a very steep hill and it wasn't set up properly and two people were killed. Now that would be—I mean, if you value a person's life at a minimum of a million dollars, you'd add a couple of million dollars there. Look, one of the questions that one of our listeners wants to know is…

Jamie Briggs: Sure.

Ian Henschke: Is there money going to be spent on Greenhill Road? Now, apparently this is one of the black spot areas but is this the one we were talking about recently where they're going to have to do a—what is it, a U-turn on Greenhill Road, somewhere near Parkside?

Jamie Briggs: The Greenhill Road Project is on Anglo Avenue to Glen Osmond Road—it is extending median to ban right turns in and out of Anglo Avenue, add a U turn area east of Anglo Avenue, extend right turn lane on east and west of George Street and Hutt Street and add right turn arrows—extend right turn lane on west approach to Glen Osmond Road. There's been 18 injuries in the last five years to 2002 and the problem being addressed is a high number of right turn, right angling rear end crashes at the intersection Anglo Avenue.

Ian Henschke: Okay. We thought that was state money, so the Federal money is going to be used to fix up that particular road which is…

Jamie Briggs: Indeed, yeah. $520,000 worth of…

Ian Henschke: That's a lot of money compared to that other one we were talking about. I mean, 1.6 kilometres of Greenhill Road, $83,000, this is $500,000, half a million dollars on Greenhill Road.

Jamie Briggs: Yes, and as you get into metropolitan areas these projects do get more expensive undoubtedly. The maximum you can give for a black spot is $2 million, that's the amount above that it becomes an issue more for our infrastructure investment programme—like we're updating both ends of South Road, as you know. For these sorts of programs it is about the smaller projects…identifying these sorts of intersections. So this is one that's met the criteria and will be going ahead.

Ian Henschke: Now, Jamie Briggs, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure with the Federal Government, yesterday on the program we spoke to the RAA about one of the issues that they thought needed to be sorted and that was the way that the trucks and the traffic come into Adelaide. At the moment, you know, you come down the freeway which is right in your electorate and then you either go down Portrush Road or you go down Glen Osmond Road or you can go down Cross Road. We had a number of people say has the government, either at a state or federal level, thought about taking a freight route which sort of bypasses Adelaide? Now, there was some talk about one through the hills would that come around and it would keep all those trucks out of Portrush Road. Now, is that ever going to happen?

Jamie Briggs: Well, firstly it's an issue that the State Government obviously looks at. We don't do road planning, the State Government does that. We give the State Government money on the basis of recommendations they make to us and we agree with, through Infrastructure Australia, where it's over $100 million. So, if there is a proposal from the state we would of course be happy to look at. I suspect the issue, though, at the moment, Ian, is the scale isn't there to justify building a route around Adelaide. For instance, there's been a lot of discussion, as you know, about the freight rail line that goes through the hills and through the southern suburbs. There was a study done just a few years ago which looked at that, whether you could build a track around the hills to the northern parts of Adelaide, to the port particularly, obviously. And that said that the economics of that didn't stack up for that for about 25 years.

Ian Henschke: But see, when you say it didn't stack up for 25 years but if you look at what they did in Sydney, I mean, the wonderful engineer Bradfield, he built the Sydney Harbour Bridge when it clearly was going to take at least another 25 years before it was needed. I mean, great visionaries build things that are going to be useful in 25 years, don't they?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, sure but we've got to make decisions with taxpayers' money and we try to do so on the basis of the best advice that we can get. You can't just build something because there's a perception it might make a difference or it might be needed in the future. You know, its finite taxpayers' money, I should say, and we need to be careful with it and in that sense, I think the issue is what are the priorities and the State Government, as I say, comes to us with the priorities. They've said to us in the past the priorities have been upgrading South Road and we've agreed with them and that's why we're doing both projects. We're spending nearly a billion dollars over the next four years to get both projects on South Road happening.

There are proposals about what's called a Northern Connector in the northern part of Adelaide to connect to the northern expressway and out to the port which would make a big difference to the freight industry and that's something that we'd be potentially interested in talking to the State Government about as well, but that's why we've established Infrastructure Australia so where the State Government goes with the proposal, we can look at it on the basis of what return do people get for their taxpayers' dollars.

Ian Henschke: Alright, thanks very much for your time this morning, Jamie Briggs. I can hear your phone beeping in the background so I do appreciate your time this morning. Thanks again.

Jamie Briggs: No worries, Ian. Good on you mate, thank you.

Ian Henschke: Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and Federal Member for Mayo. And as he said, if you've got areas of road that you think need attention, go to your local council because not only will there be black spots in the future there'll be grey spots, places like one of our listeners says, look, look at some of the places where there are lots of injuries, rather than fatalities.