Oaklands Park Rail Crossing Motion

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (11:31): I move:

That this house urges the Weatherill Labor government to prioritise the grade separation of the Seaford railway line where it meets Diagonal and Morphett roads at Oaklands Park, in order to—

(a) improve traffic congestion for residents living in the southern suburbs;

(b) provide efficient access for emergency services vehicles;

(c) support economic activity in the Westfield Marion precinct; and

(d) support the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre as a venue for state, national and international events.

I rise today to move this motion and I will get straight on with business. Oaklands crossing is a major issue in my area, and I support this motion very much. I begin by asking the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure to come clean and answer the question that people of South Australia, the people in my community—the people who live, work and play in this region—want answered. What engineering designs does the government have for fixing the Oaklands crossing problem and will he outline the cost that will be involved?

These are the questions I have been constantly asking since I entered this place but the government has failed to give me any answers. It is clear after 14 years that this state Labor government has no plan for fixing Oaklands crossing. It is debated regularly in our community as to how long the Oaklands intersection has been an issue in the local area. I have had some people tell me that it has been on the radar for more than 60 years.

What we do know is that congestion has increased exponentially in the past decade, with the doubling in size of the Westfield Marion shopping complex, the building of the new state aquatic centre, the growth of the Marion Cultural Centre, plus the expansion of the medical precinct around the GP Plus, Red Cross blood bank, Centrelink, Medicare, and Service SA. I hear members opposite scoff about the issue being in this area for 60 years. It would be great if they came out and spoke to a couple of local people. In fact, the old MATS plan had the government of the day buying back property to help fix this project.

Again, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure scoffs at this and he has been down to the area fleetingly once. It is a bit of an embarrassment. I ask on behalf of my community and the state again: where is the government with the solution today? What work has the government done through DPTI over the past 10 years? Where are the costings and the engineering reports? What is the plan? A few pretty pictures are a sign that after 14 years the government clearly has no plan to fix Oaklands crossing. My community has lost faith in this government because all they have served up is a lot of talk, a lot of spin, but they have no costings, no engineers' drawings—the government has no plan.

Let me stress that this is the work of government. This is what they have thousands of staff in departments like the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure there to do, to sink their teeth into. They have engineers, planners and architects alike. As the local member and a member of the opposition, I do not have direct access to these resources. I have two sensational staff and a trainee who work tirelessly, but none of us are engineers, and I cannot direct DPTI to do this work. That is the job of the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.

I ask him again to show these detailed engineers' drawings and the costings to everyone so that we know what the options are to fix this problem. I note with great interest that my ongoing Fix Oaklands crossing campaign, which has been going for almost two years, has forced the minister to instruct DPTI staff to set up at Westfield Marion over the next three days, showing off some artists' impressions of an overpass or an underpass at the intersection. After 14 years, all the state Labor government has produced with all its resources at its disposal are a few 'artists' impressions'—nothing to scale, no whole-of-region concepts, no costings. Clearly, the minister has dropped the ball on this project. Back in 2012, the artistic pictures were of an overpass and now they are pictures of an underpass and still, I stress, there were no costings and no detail of cost. Which one will cost more, the overpass or the underpass? Which will be done more quickly, the overpass or the underpass? How will the various versions impact the whole of the community? The minister has no answers.

We have had a win in recent times with the federal member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, and the Turnbull federal government committing $40 million to the project at the recent election. This is the first amount of cash assigned to the project ever. The state government had the opportunity to commit funds to the project in the most recent state budget, which they put off until after the federal election, but the Minister for Transport, the Treasurer and the Premier failed to do so. The minister was quoted as saying that this project was a medium-term project but that it will be escalated if the federal government put some funds forward. Well, the federal Liberal Government did, but the minister did not live up to his end of the bargain.

Remember that it is the state government that has control of the state purse strings and the state government that makes the decisions. The member for Elder also said in the media that she wanted funding for this project for the last state budget. It did not happen. In fact, I note that the member for Elder has not really mentioned this project much at all in our local community, and it borders the boundaries that I share in the seat of Mitchell with hers of Elder.

Going back through the Hansard records, I note that the member for Elder has spoken about the Oaklands crossing twice in parliament, once fleetingly, again, in her maiden speech. The member for Bright has spoken about this issue three times and worked with me tirelessly at different community forums as well. I checked my record and I have spoken on this issue 12 times since I joined this house.

It was an interesting twist in recent weeks after the state Labor government failed to commit any funds to this project in the state budget. The Premier and the state Labor government have been out claiming that they have a plan to fund the project. They claim that they have saved $150 million on the Northern Connector project—the bulk of which came from the federal government—and that they would like to flick that money across to the Oaklands project. They have stated that the Oaklands project will cost $190 million, so they claim that the $40 million election commitment from the Turnbull federal government, plus the extra $150 million, will get this project done.

Does that not raise some questions? Where did the $190 million figure come from? I have been asking for details for years and I have not received anything. Has the government given detailed costings to the federal government? I do not think so. The state government has put a price on the project, but they have not done any costings. How do you put a price on a project without doing any costings or getting any engineering drawings done? That makes no sense and, in fact, it is embarrassing to the minister.

Panicked, the government is holding listening posts at Marion, as I mentioned, over the next three days. They have released some artist's impressions of what the overpass and underpass might look like. These could be drawn up in a couple of hours by someone using a simple computer graphics program. There are no costs and no engineering reports. After 14 years, this government has no plan to fix Oaklands crossing. In 2012, there were pictures of an overpass. These were at the cost of $2 million. Now there are pictures of an underpass. Again, where are the costings and where are the engineer's drawings? Where are the plans and the figures to outline how this will be done?

I note the two pictures the government is displaying at the shopping centre today. The overpass is a rehash of the old drawing from 2012 and the underpass is just something they have dodged up that says 'artistic impression'. There is no science to the drawings they are displaying. The government has claimed that they have saved $150 million from the reduction in cost of the Northern Connector under current market prices and that they want that to be used on Oaklands.

Again, on the figures they have released, they will not show the savings they have made. In fact, they have not released any figures.

It has also raised questions in my community about the 2012 price the government put on the Oaklands overpass. They are claiming that they are saving $150 million on the Northern Connector because the cost of putting on a project now is cheaper. Back in 2012, the cost they had on the Oaklands project was $100 million, but today it has gone up to $190 million, so the Northern Connector project has come down and the Oaklands project has gone up. Will the government just come forward and show the figures to the community so that we can see what is going on? It really is quite unbelievable.

What we need is a plan. We need a vision, and we need the government to start working on that immediately. They have had 14 years and they have not delivered. A couple of pencil drawings that can be done on a computer in a couple of hours is not a solution, and money has not been budgeted, has not been put forward. Not one cent of the state budget was allocated towards this project, and the member for Elder knows it.

I will keep pushing the government to get the department to come up with a holistic plan, one that is costed and that better links the community together. I will continue to fight, and give the government an opportunity to put forward what its plans are, but it needs to do it and it needs to do it quickly. I fear this will not be a quick fix. I know how important this is to our community, and I will keep putting pressure on the government until we get a proper solution. South Australia deserves a whole-of-community solution that fixes the Oaklands crossing problem, one that can be costed and have full engineered drawings fitted around it.

My community has been supportive of finding a solution, and they have joined my campaign to fix Oaklands crossing. I have had listening posts in the community every month for the past 12 months, and have often been joined by the member for Bright as well as the federal member for Boothby, Nicole Flint. I have held transport forums, as well as a specific one focused on the Oaklands issue in my area. With that I have formed a group of 'Oaklands champions', who have been incredibly supportive of the campaign that we have run.

They have joined us at these community meetings, they have stood at listening posts and they have explained to people the problem that we have. A few of them are here with us today—David Woodifield, Gillian Bell and Ron Leak—and a number of others who could not be here today have been highly supportive: Ross LeCornu, Judy Watkins, Frank McCorry, Brenton Martin, Matt Richards, Judy Morphett, Karen Beins, Peter Brown, Jim Davidson, Robert and Maureen Amos, Bruce Roberts, John Young, Mos and Diana Matters, and Amanda and David Tovell. I thank them for their support, as well as all the others who have joined our campaign to get this problem fixed.

We know it is something that the government has shelved, has talked a lot about but has not delivered on. It does not have a plan to fix this problem. A few months after I started my campaign the council also joined in with the campaign to add weight to the cause, which was greatly appreciated.

I mentioned the information we have been trying to get from government, and I have been trying incredibly hard to get this information. I have put in FOIs and I have written requests to the minister, but it has been like drawing teeth—probably harder—to get any of this information out of the government. Everyone wants to know what the cost is, what the plans are, what the best solution is, but the government has no plan.

In September 2015, I submitted a freedom of information application requesting access to planning documents and traffic modelling around the Oaklands crossing. After several months I received access to several traffic surveys dating back to 1985, but was denied access to a further 10 of the 20 documents. I appealed the decision and took the request to the Ombudsman in December last year. During that process it became clear that the government did not disclose all the relevant documents, and was forced to go back to the drawing board and disclose all relevant documents. The second search returned 73 documents and over 5,300 pages of information.

You can imagine how pleased I was to have finally got this information, despite the long and drawn out process I had to go through. I was amazed, though, when I received the information because it was sent to me on a CD-ROM from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. Unbelievably, just a few months before they had removed all the CD-ROM drives from our office—as they had done right across the board—so we received the information on CD but they had taken all the CD-ROM drives out of the offices so we could not read the information. That does make people chuckle.

After locating an external hard drive, it was even more disappointing to find out that the majority of the document was either blank pages, redacted information or thousands of pages of raw data that made absolutely no sense. So 5,300 pages, and more than 4,000 pages—in fact more than four and a half thousand pages—were redacted information, blank pages or raw data. It is quite unbelievable and very disappointing to all and sundry. Many people in my community have concerns that the state government is playing politics, and that is a clear example.

When this campaign was starting to take off, and when the government realised it was an issue, it started to do robocalls into the area—well, you would think into the local community. The government's robocalls (automatic phone calls) that were going from the Premier to people, you would think, in and around the area—or potentially even just within South Australia, because we know it is an extended issue—went to Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland. Again, this is a government playing politics and missing the mark—desperate measures for desperate times. It was embarrassing and we are still trying to find out who funded that project because a lot of calls were made to very distant parts of the nation.

We are also aware though that this project goes beyond the local community, and I have tried to stress this to the minister a number of times. Within the local area we have a number of clubs and organisations. We know that this precinct is growing dramatically. We have the growing and expanding Westfield Marion complex, we have plenty of services like Centrelink, Service SA, Medicare, the blood bank and GPS Plus, just to name a few, but we also have the state aquatic centre.

When we speak to people in and around this area, it is not just the local community that is impacted by this; it is a number of other sporting clubs and organisations and people who come from far and wide to use this central hub service centre—and the crossing is a big detractor. I was speaking to a family the other day who do diving at the state aquatic centre. Their son actually schedules his training outside the peak times at the Oaklands crossing interchange because he knows the stress it puts on his family.

I can go on—and there are more points that need to be made—but I know that others want to speak on this issue. I want to see a solution to this issue, but my community, sadly, is saying to me that they can see that after 14 years this state Labor government has no engineers' reports or costings for this project. After 14 years, the government has no plans. They talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk and they must start delivering.

I point out that my campaign has always been bipartisan and it is about finding a solution to the problem. We want to make sure that the community and the public are taken on this journey and that it is very clear and transparent as to what is going on, unlike what we just heard there from the member for Newland and the member for Kaurna.

The member for Kaurna pointed out that in 2012 there was a plan to fund it and it was all done even though it is incredibly hard to find on the internet. The minister would not send me that information.

So, the plan is done, the solution is ready to roll, but today they also point out that the department is at the Marion shopping centre talking about whether we have an overpass or an underpass. That is the exact question and clarification that I am looking for. What is the solution? If there is a solution there, can we please have it? Can we please see it with the costings, the engineers' reports? Let's put it forward.

They say there is a solution but at the same time they say the department is out there consulting with pictures of an underpass and an overpass, and that is the concerning thing.

There is no clarity here. They say there is a solution but they are out asking, 'Which one of these do you want?' There is no pricing on the solution either. What is the price of the overpass? What is the price of the underpass? The member for Elder could not answer those questions. I know it was embarrassing for her, but we need to get those answers from the minister as well. To the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, I said very clearly when I started here that the clear question was: what engineering designs does the government have for fixing the Oaklands Crossing problem, and will he outline what the costs will be? He prattled on for a long time, and that was lovely, but he gave no answer. There is no plan with engineering plans and costings attached, and that is disappointing and the clarification is not there.

They have a price. They know how much they want to spend ($190 million), but they do not have plans and they do not have engineering reports or, if they do, they are out searching for more. That is what we need clarified, and we want to do that in a bipartisan way. We want to get the solution, I have no doubt, but we want to see and need clarification for the community. That is what I have been asking for. That is what I want to see, and that is what the community want to see as well.

The minister raised the issue of the work I have done in my community, and the member for Elder raised it too. They both know the work I have done in my community. My community knows the work I have done. The minister mentioned how many times I have talked about this. When I started my campaign, I mentioned this in my maiden speech. I invite him to go and read it and have a good look at it. He will probably want to correct his words because he was a little bit out of line, and that is fine because we need to make sure we get a solution to this.

I want to work with the government. I stress the point that I have been asking for two years for the minister to come and have a look at the situation. Let's talk it through. Let's get all the plans on the table. I have stressed this point over and over again. Together, we need to have a look at this, find the best solution, talk to the community and get the answer. That is what needs to happen—a holistic view of what the solution might be.

This is a community. I know it separates my electorate from that of the member for Elder, but that is totally irrelevant. This is a community. This is a suburb that is divided by this intersection. People are held up there. There are some little solutions, too, that I have talked to the minister about in the immediate term. The member for Elder raised them, and I would love her support to work with us to try to fix these in the short term.

We talk about the crossing being dangerous. When you go to the crossing and you want to cross the road as a pedestrian to get to the train station, if you are coming from the southern side to get to the northern side you can only cross on one side of the road. What that means is that if you are going to catch the train in the morning you have to cross over the train line, cross over the road and then cross back over the train line to get up onto the platform. I know that sounds confusing, but it means that there are pedestrian crossings stopping the cars before the train gets there to enable people to get onto the platform.

Potentially, if we could get another pedestrian crossing on the other side of the road, that would limit the number of pedestrian intersections and the number of times cars are stopped at the traffic lights. These are little things we have explored and things I have asked the minister to explore. He has the department and he is in charge. I would like support from the member for Elder so that we can work this solution in a bipartisan way. That is just a little example, but there are plenty more.

I want to continue to work this in a bipartisan manner and that is why I support the member for Unley's amendments. We need to find a solution and I think the community wants to see what the plans are. They are sick of seeing pretty pictures and pretty diagrams, but not having concrete costings and concrete engineers' reports so they know what the plan will be. I could go on for hours and hours and more, if the Minister for Transport would like me to, but I know that we want to get this to a vote, so I will close my remarks and continue to work hard to fix Oaklands crossing.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login