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Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Page: 4122


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (12:39): It is a very important principle to have budgets in balance over the economic cycle, something that the Labor Party have been completely incapable of delivering. We have seen Labor go from temporary budget deficits to, now, a string of six budget deficits and budget deficits to come as far as the eye can see. One seasoned Canberra observer described it as the worst budget since 1974. Ross Gittins described it as the strangest pre-election budget he had seen and that any of us were ever likely to see. It is a budget which confirms that the government is in chaos. It is a budget which delivers more debt, more deficits, more taxes, more broken promises and more uncertainty. Families who are struggling with rising cost-of-living pressures will get no reprieve from this budget. In fact, they have already had snatched away from them what was promised in last year's budget.

To read last year's budget papers and what was promised then and see what we ended up with is illuminating. Only last year, the Treasurer forecast a surplus of $1.5 billion this year. What he has delivered is a $19.4 billion deficit. Gross debt is likely to exceed $300 billion, and we will be borrowing almost $50 million every single day. The major concern is that those opposite have a spending problem. Every excuse under the sun has been given about revenue, but the problem is a spending problem. Revenue in 2013-14 is almost $80 billion higher than in the last year of the previous coalition government; however, spending is $120 billion higher. This is a government that has lost control of its spending and has spent more than it has earnt from the very first day that it occupied the government benches.

Families understand, households understand, the importance of living within your means. As I move around the electorate, I hear a lot of wise heads saying they have seen all this before: Labor will wreck it and the Liberals will come in to fix it.

The coalition's real solutions plan will take pressure off households and strengthen our economy so that over time there is more to go around, for everyone. The coalition will abolish the carbon tax, but we will retain the income tax cuts, fortnightly pension and benefit increases associated with it. So, under our plan, people including families will have tax cuts without a carbon tax. We will keep interest rates low by ending government waste, paying back the debt and balancing the budget. We will undertake a commission of audit in government to identify the waste and ensure that government is only as big as it needs to be.

A strong economy is the fundamental responsibility of an Australian government. It is key to everything. It means more jobs, higher wages, more government revenue, better services and, eventually, stronger and more cohesive communities. We will cut government red tape by $1 billion per year to give small business and everyone else a break.

I would like to focus on some of the specific announcements made in this budget—firstly, the GP MBS freeze. The government will realign the indexation of the MBS fees to the financial year. The indexation, currently on 1 November each year, will now be on 1 July each year. The last indexation date was November 2012 and the next indexation date is 1 July 2014, so there will be no indexation of their schedule fees for 18 months. This is a demonstration of the fact that this is an emergency budget situation. This is a budget in crisis. There is real chance we will see increased out-of-pocket costs for patients. By doing this, the government are pocketing $664 million over four years. It is not a change which will lead to improvements in health care—it has been driven by the budget emergency and by fiscal desperation. This is the end result of years of wasteful government spending and it is the only reason the government have had to make this change.

The government have also announced in the budget $10 million for a communications campaign to 'inform Australians about the benefits of Medicare Locals', and $6½ million will be spent in 2012-13. That means that in the next 33 days or so there will be $6½ million spent on informing Australians about the benefits of Medicare Locals, and $3½ million will be spent in 2013-14, presumably by 14 September. At a time when we have a budget emergency and with the sort of budget deficit that we have seen, this is an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money. Just think what $10 million could have done in front-line services; instead we have a $10-million vanity program from the government.

I want to touch on South Road in Adelaide. The Leader of the Opposition last month announced that the coalition will support the continuing upgrade of the North-South road corridor in South Australia. This is a $500 million commitment for South Australia and it is a stretch of road that the state and federal Labor governments have been promising to fix since 2006—specific promises, costed promises that have not happened. The coalition understands the importance of a proper non-stop North-South corridor from Darlington to Wingfield. In August 2007 John Howard announced that South Road, south of Sir Donald Bradman Drive, would be added to the National Road Network. The North-South corridor is the RAA's biggest priority in South Australia. It has been understood in South Australia since 2006 that one of the major priorities to address was the South Road-Sturt Road intersection. The RAA's Towards 2020 report said this:

Inclusion of this section on the national road network ensures that federal funds can be allocated to major works complementing the State Government's own funding and forward commitments for the upgrade of the Anzac Highway and Sturt Road intersections. These two locations are the two busiest intersections and most congested on the corridor. The next largest intersection, Grand Junction Road, is located at the far end of the route and has also been identified for improvements in the short term.

In this report from 2009, the RAA assumed that the state government and the federal government were going to fix Sturt Road. The South Australian government, in their own discussion paper to update their infrastructure plan, made it very clear that the biggest cause of delay was Anzac Highway, which was dealt with by the Gallipoli Underpass. The roads coming equal second were Grand Junction Road and Sturt Road. Grand Junction Road has been dealt with by the Superway.

After seven years of being in the state's own infrastructure update plan, only two weeks ago—at five minutes to midnight—the federal government announced what they would like to do post-2014 on a different section of the road. According to the RAA, in their traffic surveys, none of the major north-south arterial roads in the south meet minimal, acceptable standards for travel times during peak travel. In 2012, the RAA said that motorists are opting to take Goodwood Road, which is also slow and congested, as an alternative to South Road. The upgrades to South Road need to be completed to reduce the pressure on Goodwood Road and ease congestion around the city.

In the latest RAA traffic survey, they found for a commuter who travels from Majors Road, O'Halloran Hill, all the way down Main South Road, Ayliffes Road, Fiveash Drive and Goodwood Road into the city that nearly all sections of this road fall far below minimum standards, but the section between Majors Road and Flinders Drive is the worst with cars inching forward at just 11 kilometres an hour during the morning peak.

This is followed closely by the stretch near Sturt Road, which averages 14 kilometres an hour. When you look at the Southern Expressway, for someone travelling from Morphett Vale into Bedford Park—this is a 100-kilometre-an-hour expressway—the slowest sections during the afternoon are before Sturt Road and also between Sturt Road and Flinders Drive. Here vehicles slow to just 25 kilometres an hour—well below the acceptable level. In the morning, traffic generally moves at an acceptable speed, but with major congestion around Sturt Road.

Unfortunately, the announcements by federal Labor on South Road in this budget will not address this traffic congestion. What we see is a whole lot of roads—Marion Road, South Road, Goodwood Road, Belair-Unley Road and Fullarton Road—falling below the threshold level of 30 kilometres an hour during peak times. Completing the entire north-south corridor upgrade will benefit residents right across metropolitan South Australia.

A failure to invest in infrastructure over decades has seen increasing traffic congestion and transit times throughout Adelaide. The RAA have been advocating for a true north-south corridor for years. They have stated that improving the South Road corridor will greatly decrease traffic pressure on other arterial roads like Marion Road, Brighton Road, Goodwood Road and Belair Road.

The stretch of South Road at Darlington is the most congested part of South Road that is yet to see any upgrades. This is outlined in the state government's strategic infrastructure plan discussion paper. This state government document clearly identifies Darlington as the next priority for the north-south corridor upgrade. The north-south corridor upgrade needs to be done in stages, and Darlington is clearly the next step. The coalition has committed $500 million for reconfiguration of South Road between the Southern Expressway and north of Sturt Road, to expressway standard, for underpasses below Flinders Drive and Sturt Road, and for connection of the Darlington interchange with the Southern Expressway to provide for two-way flow.

We have not just plucked this out of the air. These were actually Labor Party promises at a state level in 2006 and 2010,and federal Labor promises in 2007. They promised them, they costed them; they just did not do them.

In addition, the coalition will work with the SA government to develop a business case for this project and for the remaining sections of the north-south corridor over time. We understand that the entire north-south corridor upgrade is a major project that will take many years, but we will work with the SA government to make it happen over time. We expect construction to begin with in the first term of a future coalition government.

This is something that, on behalf of my constituents, I have been fighting for since 2007. I am proud to say that a coalition government will follow through on its commitment and upgrade the stretch of South Road at Darlington near Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre. This will make a massive difference to traffic congestion and to commuters in the south.