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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3867

Mr O'NEIL —Can the Minister for Transport confirm a recent statement in the Adelaide Advertiser by the South Australian Minister for Transport, Gavin Keneally, that all but 12 kilometres of the Stuart Highway will be opened for traffic by Christmas? Can he also inform the House when the remaining unsealed section will be opened?

Mr PETER MORRIS —The honourable member for Grey has one of the largest electorates in this nation. He has been a great fighter for the improvement of the road system. When the national highway link from Adelaide through to Darwin is completed the constituents of Grey can turn to the honourable member for Grey and thank him as the man most responsible. The section of highway referred to by the honourable member is part of the national highway system, the full cost of which is borne by this Government. As a Government we have given major priority to improving the national highway system because that is a fundamental road grid that rings this nation and links it from north to south.

The section the honourable member referred to is the link north to Alice Springs from Adelaide. Some 750 kilometres of road is being constructed between Pimba and the Northern Territory border. There are only three projects totalling some 215 kilometres yet to be finished. These, to which the honourable member has drawn our attention, are rapidly nearing completion. The 59-kilometre section between Pootnoura Creek and Mount Willoughby was opened to traffic on 31 October. A further 65 kilometres between Marla and the Northern Territory border will be opened to traffic by the end of this month. I can confirm for the honourable member and for the electorate of Grey that all but 12 kilometres of the remainder south of the Rose Hill will be finished by Christmas. I can tell the honourable member that that remaining 12 kilometres and the final finishing-off works will all be completed by March next year. That is because of the priority this Government has given to improving the road system of this nation. It is an area of responsibility long neglected by those who sit opposite. Long may they sit opposite because of the neglect they have accorded the road system.

I should also say that along with the priority given to improving the road system has been a major priority given by this Government to improving road safety, to reducing road crashes, and to reducing road casualties. As a Parliament-I am sure every member in this chamber will agree-we can say that many Australians will no longer face the hazards and dangers that they would have faced on other occasions because of the improved road conditions that will be available for the Christmas and holiday traffic in the coming season. Much of the road system will be safer; much of it will be easier to travel; and much of it will be cheaper to use. That, I am sure, is a wish of all honourable members. I thank the honourable member for his question. I commend him for the interest that he has taken in this very important subject.