By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Thursday, October 22, 2020
It’s that time of year again. South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas is checking the state’s coffers and deciding where to allocate vital funds.
In just 2 weeks, the State Budget will be released and, while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, the current economic situation and COVID-19 mean this is one of the most important budgets in South Australia’s 184-year history.
Here at RAA, we’ve been asking the state government for a few things that we believe will help South Australia thrive during the pandemic and well into the future.
1. More funding to make our roads safer
Last year, South Australia recorded its highest road toll since 2010, with 114 people losing their lives.
To help reduce the toll, we want to see more money invested in South Australian roads.
Here’s what we’re asking the state government to commit to:
- Increase road maintenance funding to $160 million, with an additional $145 million extra per year over the next 5 years to eliminate the backlog of work that needs to be completed.
- Construct 3 overtaking lanes along the Riddoch Hwy.
- Upgrade the Spencer Hwy between Minlaton and Maitland, along with Upper Yorke Rd from Kulpara to Maitland.
- Improve safety on Victor Harbor Rd between Mt Compass and Victor Harbor.
- Provide funding to repair pit covers – more commonly known as manholes.
2. Improve transport accessibility for South Australians
After years of RAA advocating for real-time fuel pricing, the state government announced in May that it would begin a 2-year trial of the system, saving South Australian motorists millions of dollars.
Now, we want the state government to provide enough funding to roll-out mandatory real-time fuel pricing, which requires retailers to report their fuel prices before changing them at the pumps.
This is just one of the things we believe will create a more accessible transport network for South Australians. Here are a few others:
- Continue funding on-demand bus services in Mount Barker and the Barossa. We’d also like to see trials of on-demand bus services in other regional towns.
- Start a bus-shelter fund to help councils improve bus stops in their areas.
- Expand the Bus Stop Management Plan project, which investigates where stops should be located to improve travel times. This will also increase the safety, efficiency and reliability of the state’s public transport network.
- Extend the Seaford passenger train line to Aldinga.
- Consider widening Main North Rd between Montague Rd and Kesters Rd, providing 3 lanes in both directions.
3. Encourage more sustainable energy and transport
The future is here. Electric vehicles (EVs) are on the market, autonomous cars are being trialled, and hydrogen technology is on the horizon.
To make sure South Australia keeps up with the evolving energy and transport sector, the government needs to do a few things:
- Get more electric vehicles on SA roads. This could be through investing in electric vehicles for public transport and government cars.
- Duplicate the Dukes Hwy, along with improving line markings and installing centre barriers, to prepare the road for autonomous freight transport.
- Make sure there’s mobile coverage along the state’s transport corridors.
- Investigate how the state could implement Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) which uses advanced computer technology to detect different traffic situations. It then develops strategies to improve the traffic flow.
- Explore renewable energy opportunities.
- Encourage the establishment of a South Australian hydrogen manufacturing industry.
- Invest in fast-charging points in regional South Australia to encourage EV travel.
4. Support SA tourism
A recent RAA member panel found more than 90% of South Australians will holiday in regional South Australia in the next year.
That’s why RAA believes supporting SA’s tourism industry is so important – not just for locals, but also interstate and eventually international visitors.
So how can this be done? Here are a few ways we think the state government can make our state as tourist-friendly as possible:
- Increase funding for the SA Tourism Commission.
- Invest in better information signs for regional tourist spots, making it easier for visitors.
- Improve mobile data coverage in the state’s national parks and other key tourist locations.
- Help local councils develop cycling trails, building SA’s reputation as a cycling and wine destination.
- Create a $20m Main Street Makeover Fund to revitalise regional town centres.
- Seal the entire Strzelecki Track.