• Ellis Gelios

MPs call for government funding boost for washed out SA road, rail network

Updated: Feb 1


Two local MPs campaigning in - or for - seats in northern South Australia and the federal opposition have demanded better investment from the federal government into road and rail infrastructure after recent rain events and floods severed the transport network.


Eddie Hughes, who will seek to continue representing the seat of Giles at the March state election, highlighted the logistical barriers that have come about in Coober Pedy in the immediate aftermath of a series of devastating floods:

“There have been big impacts...obviously Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta, APY Lands; they’ve all been hit hard by the closure of the Stuart Highway.
“The implications there nationally when you look at Western Australia, the Northern Territory, with the multiple breaks to rail link, that is incredibly serious.”
“Essentially the trucks cannot use the Stuart Highway.”
“At this stage, no one knows what the state of the base of the road is and the substrate – putting trucks over it could end up doing a lot more traffic to the road, which is not something we want to see.”

A long-term Labor MP in the north-western SA seat, Mr Hughes told Flow that the impact of recent flooding underscores the need for a proactive approach which would ensure that vital regional infrastructure is better protected.

“Clearly, it’s [road and rail networks] been put on the stress test and failed, I guess they will argue these are record-breaking rains, well some of that was somewhat, at least in the longer term predictable with what is happening to the climate.”
“There is now an opportunity here to fully assess what has happened and actually build-in some resilience to our road and rail system.”
“This is so that with rain events like this in the future we don’t have a repetition of the impact that we’re now seeing on our northern communities, and the Northern Territory and Western Australia.”


Fellow South Australian MP Geoff Brock, representing the seat of Frome but running for the north-eastern SA seat of Stuart, echoed Hughes’ pleas on Flow:


“The worst part about it [heavy rainfalls] is it is creating havoc with the road infrastructure and the availability of not only the road but also the rail.”

“The concern I’ve got now is that there’s more downpours coming and the Bureau (of Meteorology) indicate there could be another 100-200 millimetres of rain, so already on what’s happened, that’s going to make it even worse for the road congestions.


“It is going to be a real challenge going forward.”
“It just goes to show you how vulnerable we are in our outbreaks areas when things like this do happen and we’ve got to really look at the long-term opportunities.”


Labor shadow infrastructure minister Catherine King told Flow in a statement:

"Despite nearly a decade in office, the Liberals and Nationals have not made our supply chain and freight networks more resilient.
"Labor has long called for the Morrison-Joyce Government to take supply chain issues seriously. They have been asleep at the wheel for years and we’ve seen the consequences of that with shortages this summer.
"Labor has a proud history of working closely with the road transport industry and we will make announcements about our commitment to our national freight routes in the weeks and months ahead."

Independent MP Brock went on to assert that the federal government should bear the brunt of funding which would relieve regional motorists and residents who are reliant on crucial supplies.


“Regional South Australia needs to have far more attention from the state government and the federal government.”
“We need to push more money and do it far better with funds mainly from the Commonwealth Government because baring in mind any road infrastructure in regional South Australia is 80 per cent contribution by the federal government, 20 per cent by the state government of the day.”

A spokesperson for the federal government said the government has provided more than $10 billion for road and rail projects in South Australia since 2013, including for projects that bolster flood resilience and access.


The Australian Government is also helping to deliver fresh food and supplies to communities affected by road and rail disruptions in South Australia, including airlifting food to Coober Pedy and working with states and territories to increase freight capacity on alternative road networks into the Northern Territory.


The National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA) is closely engaged with South Australian officials regarding recovery assistance for the current floods in South Australia. The federal government said that if a request is made by the South Australian Government for assistance under the DRFA, the Commonwealth will action it as a matter of priority.


The state government has been contacted for comment.