Labor’s Hahndorf Interchange lies laid bare

Tuesday 04 April, 2023

The Malinauskas Labor Government has ripped $80 million away from a regional community and misled South Australians as part of its controversial decision to scrap the proposed Hahndorf Interchange.

Freedom of Information (FOI) documents have revealed the total estimated cost of the Hahndorf Township Improvements and Access Upgrade Project as of August last year is $171 million - $80 million short of the $250 million committed to the project before the Interchange was dumped by Labor.

Under the former Liberal Government, the Project included an Interchange that would allow freight vehicles to bypass Hahndorf’s main street, improving safety and reducing congestion.

The FOI revealed $67 million – or almost 40 per cent – of the costs are set to go towards the Mount Barker Interchange upgrade, making it the most expensive element of the project. $34 million is allocated for the Hahndorf Main Street upgrade and $13 million for the extension of the Pioneer Women’s Trail.

The documents also expose the Malinauskas Labor Government’s severe misrepresentation of community feedback on the Hahndorf Interchange.

Peter Malinauskas has claimed “overwhelmingly that consultation told us they did not like the plan” with Tom Koutsantonis stating “almost no one still supported this project going ahead”.

However, the FOI reveals when it came to the Department for Infrastructure and Transport’s consultation on the first three options for the Interchange in April and June 2021 there was “general support for the project to proceed” – with more submissions in support of each option than against.

When consultation was carried out for a fourth option in November and December 2021, 55 per cent of the written submissions were supportive of the Interchange. Just 32 per cent were “non-supportive submissions”.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Vincent Tarzia, said Labor’s using smoke and mirrors to change the narrative to suit their own agenda.

“These documents make it crystal clear Peter Malinauskas and Tom Koutsantonis have misled South Australians when it comes to scrapping the Hahndorf Interchange,” Mr Tarzia said.

“Labor keeps saying this project isn’t supported by the local community, but the cold hard facts tell us otherwise.

“We know the Malinauskas Labor Government has an inability to manage their budget, but it’s unacceptable to rip $80 million out of a regional community under false pretences.

“Peter Malinauskas and Tom Koutsantonis must revisit the Hahndorf Interchange instead of twisting the views of locals to suit their own needs.”

Member for Heysen, Josh Teague, said the lack of respect given to the feedback from local residents is appalling.

“Locals are telling me they feel short-changed when it comes to Labor’s scrapping of the Hahndorf Interchange – and these documents certainly back them up,” Mr Teague said.

“There are major traffic issues with trucks on Hahndorf’s main street and it’s shameful Labor could be using tens of millions of dollars that could fund an Interchange to plug a hole somewhere else.

“Hahndorf is one of South Australia’s top tourism destinations but it sorely needs a solution to its traffic woes and it’s time for Peter Malinauskas and Tom Koutsantonis to solve this problem for visitors and locals alike.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Adrian Pederick, said the former Liberal Government was committed to easing dangerous congestion in Hahndorf and Labor’s handling of the project will only make the situation worse.

“The former Liberal Government invested heavily in regional roads, but it’s clear this is an area fast slipping down the priority list under Labor,” Mr Pederick said.

“We’ve been calling on the Malinauskas Labor Government to release new costings for the Hahndorf project but they’ve remained silent and now we can see why - with these Freedom of Information documents painting an ugly picture.

“While we welcome works to upgrade the main street and improve the Verdun and Mount Barker interchanges, Labor’s still clearly missed the mark and we fear dangerous congestion in Hahndorf will only get worse.

“Plans for major projects like the Hahndorf upgrade should be made with the community’s views front of mind – but Labor’s built their decision on lies.”