Wednesday 30 August, 2023

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley) (12:20): I move:

That this house—

(a) notes that the completion of the Torrens to Darlington leg of the north-south corridor has now been pushed back by two years until 2032;

(b) condemns the Malinauskas Labor government for its dismal record thus far of cost blowouts and delays on the Torrens to Darlington leg; and

(c) acknowledges the frustration and concern felt by many residents and business owners along South Road due to the uncertainty around home and business acquisitions.

There is no doubt that, under this government, the Labor Party has put this project in the slow lane. It has put it in the slow lane, and what we have seen is delays and cost blowouts. When we were in government, we did the hard yards, we did the work and we did the proper planning. We saw a project that was costed at just over the $9 billion mark.

What did we see? An incoming change in government, and the only thing that changed was the minister. Of course, from there, what was one of the first actions of the government? To actually sack one of the key personnel, a lady of world-renowned experience and expertise in these projects. What do we see? Further delays, further blowouts, a project that now will exceed over $15 billion of taxpayer money.

Let's reflect back to what was a very embarrassing blunder, an embarrassing leak, whereby it was actually exposed by the hardworking and diligent journalists at The Advertiser—Kathryn Bermingham in particular—that homes were being bought around the Anzac Highway and South Road intersection after the draft north-south corridor plans were 'accidentally' published.

What does that article go on to say? It looks like the media at the time, doing their job, asked the transport minister a number of questions: when was the minister made aware that extra properties would need to be acquired for the Torrens to Darlington project? When was the decision made to move the portal of the northern tunnel to the east, taking South Road over the corner of Hindmarsh Cemetery? When was the minister made aware some properties on Jervois Avenue, West Hindmarsh would no longer be required for the project? When was the minister made aware that the start/finish of the project would be further delayed? Given the review has progressed to this level of detail, can the minister provide an updated total cost and, if not, is this because a total cost has not been reached or because the government is not ready to release it?

When we look at the article that quotes the information, what we see is that the start of the construction:

…has been pushed back from 2024 to 2025, while the first tunnel-boring machine will start tunnelling in 2026. The project's completion date has also been delayed another year to 2032.

What an absolute shambles. It is a real shame. It is a real shame that people in and around South Road, whether it be the residents who have been affected or the businesses that have been affected, are having to put up with this absolute amateur hour situation by this government. We know that this is the most significant infrastructure project in South Australia's history. It is. What we saw at that time was clearly disappointing.

As I said, it is a real shame that the Labor Party in this state has put this project in the slow lane. We just want it to be done, and we want it to be done as soon as possible with the best taxpayer value for money as possible. We want it done thoroughly and we want it to be done on time because this state cannot afford for this multibillion-dollar project to continue to spiral out of control. Whether it be from a costing point of view or a time point of view, we want to make sure that this project is done well and done properly.

I hope that when I do return to speak about the Torrens to Darlington leg of the north-south corridor, I come back in happier times when the project has started, is on budget, is on time and is actually delivered. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we are going to continue to see situations where delays occur, where budget blowouts occur, and we will continue to hold this government to account on this very significant project.