Interview with David Bevan and Ali Clarke with The Hon Stephan Knoll MP, ABC Radio Adelaide
David Bevan: Let's welcome Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to the program. Good morning, Deputy Prime Minister.
Michael McCormack: Good morning. What a great morning it is!
David Bevan: And on the other line is Stephan Knoll, South Australia's Transport Minister. Good morning to you, Minister.
Stephan Knoll: Good morning, David.
David Bevan: Mr McCormack, if we could start with you. What are you going to build north of Port Wakefield?
Michael McCormack: Well, what we're going to do is we're going to duplicate the Port Wakefield roads at the town of Port Wakefield beginning at the end of the existing road duplication south of Port Wakefield and continuing onto the Copper Coast Highway junction. So, that's what you get when you get delivery with the new Liberal-Steven Marshall South Australian Government.
David Bevan: Now, there's an overpass in there?
Michael McCormack: There's an overpass as well a single-lane overpass for Port Wakefield over the intersection of the Augusta and Copper Coast highways.
So it's a $72 million Commonwealth commitment, $18 million from the Marshall-Liberal South Australian Government. And we saw just how needed and necessary it was this morning when a transportable home was driven through there and caused, well, it wasn't all sorts of chaos but it was just- it just slowed the traffic up. Whilst it had all the right certificates and authority to be able to do that it's a road project that just needs doing and thanks to Stephan Knoll and Rowan Ramsey it's being delivered.
Ali Clarke: So, Michael McCormack, just if you can paint a really clear picture. We're driving up from Adelaide, we're on that double lane highway, you're saying that that will go all the way through—continue on through the town of Port Wakefield out the other side—and then there will also be an overpass that can help people get from where to where?
Michael McCormack: The overpass, the single-lane overpass from Port Wakefield Road goes over the intersection of the Augusta and Copper Coast highways. So Stephan might add to that but that's a good project. It's a necessary project and it's long overdue.
David Bevan: And you're giving $72 million. That's right. How much does the State Government put in?
Michael McCormack: $18 million—so it's an 80–20 project. That's normally the practice for these sorts of regional infrastructure projects.
David Bevan: Stephan Knoll, you'll have to build the thing. When can you start work?
Stephan Knoll: Well, the Department has already been working on concept planning and in this case development. Now, with this funding announcement, we'll be able to move quickly into a design phase and then construction. It will still take some time to deliver—2022 is the expected completion date.
But work within the Department has already been underway. And this is a fantastic announcement this morning. It really is the next piece… [phone cuts out].
Ali Clarke: He's coming back from Port Wakefield there so we will try to get him back because I think it was just winding up. So 2022, so again repeating, $72 million from the federal government and 18 million from the state.
David Bevan: Michael McCormack, this is perhaps a question for Stephan Knoll, but maybe you can help us out. How much of an issue was keeping Port Wakefield on the road and in business?
Michael McCormack: These little rural communities, they want to be kept on the roads. Some of them want bypasses so you've got to actually consult with the community. That's been done.
I know that Rowan Ramsey has been putting the case about what an important link this is between Adelaide and the agricultural and tourist areas of the Yorke Peninsula and the north of the state. And so, you still get that traffic flow through; people can still stop off the wonderful bakery, the state-renowned bakery, and get a coffee. And then they could shop around; have a look at what Port Wakefield has to offer.
So for locals, this is the importance but it's also getting people home sooner and safer. It's all about the school buses, the freight tasks for our big trucks, and for tourists and people who are in cars and utes alike. So, it's for the smaller vehicles.
So this is a good announcement and I know—I've been in Parliament with Rowan Ramsey for long enough to know he's been advocating this for as long as I've known him—and this morning, he's delivered.
Ali Clarke: Well, Stephan Knoll, I understand we have you back. South Australian Transport Minister. We're mentioning a single-lane overpass—how much modelling has been done by your Government on this? Because we had a one-way expressway—is there a scope that this might need to be increased in the future or are you satisfied that that will be enough?
Stephan Knoll: Certainly the work that the Department has started shows that this is appropriate and really what we're about here is removing an intersection and creating a continuous flow of people coming out of the Yorke Peninsula to be able to then come on to Port Wakefield Road.
So from that aspect, I'm confident that we've got the right plan in place but the fantastic thing is that we've actually been able to take what was an election commitment to just do the overpass, but by working with the federal government and securing an 80–20 funding arrangement, have actually been able to take that next step and do the whole job continuously and deliver it better for this important stretch of roads.
David Bevan: Ian has called from Paradise with a question. Good morning, Ian.
Caller Ian: Good morning. Why does the main highway have to go through Port Wakefield? Why could it not be a bypass?
Ali Clarke: John from Craigmore is asking that. Dublin has the bypass so why are we going through that? Can you answer that, Stephan Knoll?
Stephan Knoll: Sure. And it is in discussions about how to fix the traffic issue around Port Wakefield and a bypass is something that's been discussed quite often.
But in all seriousness, the reason that we got to this was because we want to actually help promote and encourage the town to grow rather than just bypass it. And by delivering duplication through the town, we actually deliver and ease that congestion issue but still sending people through the town.
There's actually nothing that stops us—if at some point in the future we need to do a bypass, that's something that can be done. But on balance, looking at what the best solution is, a duplication through the town helps to ease the traffic congestion, helps to encourage investment in what is a beautiful regional town and again deliver on an infrastructure pipeline for South Australians.
David Bevan: Because if you bypass the town, you'd kill it.
Stephan Knoll: Not necessarily, I think, not as extreme as that. But essentially, the ability to deliver the duplication through the town is manageable. This is a road that's got very wide median; it's got a lot of space, a lot of setback to houses. So delivery duplication through the town is doable.
In other areas of South Australia, it may not be as simple but we believe that it is the best solution to deliver the traffic congestion reduction but also to help encourage investment in the town.
David Bevan: Okay. Now that's Stephan Knoll, the South Australian Transport Minister and on the other line is the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.
Julie has called from Modbury. I'd like to put you in touch with powerful people, Julie. Good morning.
Caller Julie: Good morning. Look, I'm really happy that they're going to do something about that. But there's another—there's a roundabout that's just been put between Port Wakefield and Kadina on the stretch that goes down to Ardrossan. And the signage, it's terrible.
There's a warning that there's a roundabout and then there's an 80 k sign; and anybody attempting to go round that roundabout at 80 ks is destined for disaster. Can somebody have a look? I have written to the Government about it or I contacted the department but nothing has been done. That was months ago.
Ali Clarke: Okay. Thank you, Julie. Stephan Knoll, are you auditing or will you audit everything across Yorkes?
Stephan Knoll: More than happy to have a look at that and if off-air I'm able to get Julie's details, I'm more than happy to have my office follow up with her.
David Bevan: Now, Andy has called from Hindmarsh. Hello, Andy. Good morning, Andy.
Called Andy: Good morning. My comments are that it's a great idea to get people through Port Wakefield, it encourages people to rest. It prevents the fatigue. We all know fatigue's a massive killer of people in road crashes.
But the other issue at that location is further around the corner when you get onto the Copper Coast Highway, the next turn left, getting people down the Peninsula is a T junction and numbers of people have been killed there over the years. Wouldn't it be a great idea to get a roundabout there and then that whole area is smooth and free?
David Bevan: Stephan Knoll, are you planning on further work around into Yorke Peninsula? Because Andy makes a good point, doesn't he?
Stephan Knoll: Yeah. I mean, there's so much backlog in regional South Australia when it comes to fixing up our roads and it's why we took such a strong platform to the election.
Look, can I say that we've announced this specific project today in relation to Port Wakefield that fixes an issue there but there are issues right across the regional South Australian road network.
We've also, for instance announced, that we will work together with the federal government about delivering the solution up at the Joy Baluch Bridge in Port Augusta.
There's also a commitment we took to the election around Penola and delivering a bypass down there. But there are issues right across the regional road network that we're going to have to deal with and we'll have more to say about it in the Budget.
But going forward, this is a Liberal State Government that wants to invest more and will invest more in country roads.
Ali Clarke: Alright. Well, we're heading near country now, Mount Barker. Jeff, what question do you have?
Caller Jeff: I was just wondering now with this new road going through, let's enable road trains now to come on down through where they now stop at Black Hill, come through right down.
Ali Clarke: Alright. Someone else says: yeah, why not have a heavy vehicle bypass as well and send through passengers through Port Wakefield? So what do the road trains do Stephan Knoll?
Stephan Knoll: Well, I mean, I don't have the exact detail about what the size of truck that's allowed through Port Wakefield but I would expect given that it's a major freight route that you'd be seeing large B-doubles and even larger than that coming through the town.
But again, duplication does help to deliver a benefit for the freight task that exists now. If into the future, we see a massive amount of increase in exports and other truck movements on our roads then we'll need to deal with that at the time. But the solution that we've put on the table deals with the current and projected future freight task that runs up and down this road on a daily basis.
Ali Clarke: Okay. Well the expected date as you said to finish and complete is at this stage 2022. When will people who need to drive through that area either to go on holidays or get up north for work or other reasons—when will they actually start to notice a difference and maybe have to slow down for roadworks?
Stephan Knoll: Well that's all still to come. And as I said, the department's already done some business case development and some concept planning. As we move into the design and construction phase, we'll actually figure out what bits are going to be delivered when and which parts of the solution will be built first. But we'll definitely be communicating with locals and with people that use that road as soon as we have that information.
David Bevan: Alright. Now, we'll hear from Spence Denny a little later in the program and after 9 o'clock more than happy to talk about regional roads and the road budget, after 9 o'clock. So remember those numbers, 1300–222–891.
Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, before you leave us: yesterday Julia Banks, a Liberal MP, said she had had enough because of the events of last week and the bullying which occurred.
Now, I appreciate you're with the National Party but you're in coalition with the Liberals. What would you say to Julia Banks? What could you say to reassure her that this is…
Michael McCormack: Well, I can tell you what I actually did say to her. I offered her my full support. I've been a very good friend of Julia Banks. She's been an outstanding Member for Chisholm. It's not good enough that people get bullied anywhere in any workplace in Australia, let alone in Parliament.
And I told her that and I've said that publicly. Intimidation and bullying has no place, absolutely no place, at any workplace in Australia.
David Bevan: And yet, the fact that despite people like you and the Prime Minister have given her those assurances, she's walking. Her actions speak louder, don't they, than words. She clearly doesn't believe that this is going to improve.
Michael McCormack: She's a person of great integrity and she's certainly made strong comments and I think a lot of people can take a good long look at themselves after what happened last week in so many aspects, in so many regards. And I think we need to put that behind us now and be our best selves and stop talking about ourselves and looking at ourselves and start concentrating and worrying about the people we are there to represent there, the 25 million Australians.
That's what I've been doing all along and that's what I'm sure the Liberal Party will now start to do too.
Ali Clarke: Are you wearing your…
Michael McCormack: … Refocus. We've been a good government. We need to refocus on the other things that matter.
Ali Clarke: So, are you wearing your little Australian flag pin that the Prime Minister handed out?
Michael McCormack: No. I actually left it back in Wagga Wagga this morning! And just prior to the interview I've just done with Stephan Knoll, I actually thought to myself whoops I forgot to wear the pin.
But look, I've always worn the parliamentary pin, the green House of Representatives pin, because I'm proud of the fact that I'm a member of the House of Representatives. I'm also very, very proud that I'm an Australian but I'm also proud that I'm a member of a Coalition government, a Liberal and Nationals Government, which has really delivered for Australians lower taxes, better infrastructure.
We'll continue to do that. We need to reset and regain the confidence of the Australian people. I'm sure we'll do that under Scott Morrison. He's going to be an outstanding Prime Minister and I look forward to working very closely with state ministers such as Stephan Knoll on a state level to bring about better outcomes for Australia.
Ali Clarke: Alright. Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, thank you. Also Stephan Knoll there, South Australian Transport Minister.
So just to recap—both governments have announced the funding has been secured for a $90 million project that will create a double-lane overpass at Port Wakefield. So you go all the way through on that double pass and a single lane overpass as well and the State Government will be putting $18.1 million into it.