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Oaklands Park Rail Crossing

Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 15:28:15 ): I rise today to talk about the ongoing saga that is the Oaklands Park train crossing, which is where Diagonal Road and Morphett Road dissect the train line at the northern end of the Mitchell electorate on the boundary I share with Elder. I was interested to hear the member for Elder talk about public transport just the other day in the house, and she stressed that she wanted to be positive. The member for Elder spoke about the Tonsley train line being up and running, but I was flabbergasted that at no time did she mention the number one transport issue in her electorate: the burning issue that is the Oaklands Park train crossing. I am positive that the people of Mitchell and Elder and the surrounds are very frustrated with the Oaklands Park crossing.

The member for Elder and I have been together at community forums, listening to and speaking with constituents on the issue, and I know that it would have been one of the key items for her, as it was for me, during the election campaign. This is also not a new issue. Having grown up in Oaklands Park, I have watched the debate rage around this intersection for a number of years now. It has been a source of aggravation for commuters in and around Mitchell and Elder, and beyond, for more than a decade. In fact, some say that it has been brewing for way longer, but I know in the last 10 years it has reached boiling point and next to nothing has been done.

Before my time here a petition was collected by the City of Marion council. It had more than 5,000 signatures and I am told was distributed to the members of this house. Interestingly, the signatures were from people as far south as Seaford and Morphett Vale and as far north as Torrensville. This is a clear indication to me that, while this is an issue that centres around Mitchell and Elder, it has implications far beyond these districts.

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When I worked at Westfield Shopping Town back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the centre was lauded as being one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Since then, the precinct has grown fourfold, and potentially more. It has gone from being a shopping centre to a South Australian entertainment, health, public service and sporting hub. There has been the addition of the state aquatic facility on the corner of Diagonal and Morphett roads, and the GP Plus, Centrelink and the Marion Cultural Centre have been established. A new Service SA office has been added. In general, the precinct has flourished but nothing has been done to alleviate the congestion of the notorious Oaklands intersection.

In the past few months, as the new electric trains have slowly begun running, the new schedule has had more trains moving through the intersection and increasing the bottleneck. Unfortunately for residents who combat the crossing, they have been teased over time. They sit in their cars in clogged traffic. In 2008, the state Labor government spent $6.8 million overhauling the train station and moving it closer to the intersection. Then they recalled a promised upgrade of the Diagonal Road, Prunus Street and Morphett Road precinct which is valued at $12.6 million.

This promise was scrapped in the 2011 state budget when the state Labor government realised it had overspent and it did not have the funds to complete the project. Instead, the key players opposite decided to spend $2 million on a study into how to ease traffic congestion. The value of that $2 million study could be well questioned by all those sitting in their cars stuck in traffic again at the Oaklands intersection today, this week and beyond.

For the $2 million study, we received some pretty pictures of an overpass and we are told that it was the most cost-effective solution to fix the traffic congestion at Oaklands Park. Those pictures were presented to the public in September 2012, nearly two years ago. Since then, nothing has been done. My grave concern is that the cost of the project was estimated at the time by the transport minister's office to be in the vicinity (and, as I say, the figures are very rubbery) of beyond $100 million. No-one really knows, and I worry that the government does not know at this point in time.

Perhaps it will be explained at some time soon when we meet with the transport minister. My deputy leader has organised a meeting with the transport minister for herself and me in the not too distant future. She asked for that back on 1 April and we are still waiting for a response. Almost two years ago, the pictures and diagrams came out but nothing more has been done.

I know that the state Labor government has watched as the state debt has risen above $14 billion. I can only presume that is the reason they have not gone ahead. That is one option: the state debt has risen to $14 billion and they cannot fund the project. The plans have been put in place two years ago and, as I said, nothing has been done.

The only other explanation, if it is not mismanagement of the budget and there are not funds to complete the project, is that the state Labor government does not care about the people of Mitchell or the people of Elder. They are the only two options: they do not have the funds because they have mismanaged the economy or they do not care about the people of Mitchell and the people of Elder. I can see why the member for Elder did not want to talk about the crossing at Oaklands. It is a big issue, but I call on the Premier to get the job done.

Source: Hansard 21/05/2014

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