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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3073


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (17:53): I wish to echo the sentiments of my fellow South Australian colleagues, the member for Makin and the member for Wakefield. My electorate of Mayo bore the absolute brunt of the storms that hit South Australia. The devastation was heavy and widespread right across my electorate. Our communities were beset with landslides, fallen power poles and broken powerlines. Homes and businesses were flooded, huge trees were completely uprooted, some hundreds of years old. Retaining walls collapsed, culverts failed, pedestrian bridges were swept away and a great many roads were heavily damaged by serious water erosion.

In the Adelaide Hills, a segment of Montague Road was entirely swept away with conservative estimates putting the cost of fixing just that one section of road at $1.5 million. My local councils do not have the funds, quite simply, to address the scale of the storm damage we have suffered. I continue to work hard and constructively with the federal government and with the state governments to expedite additional assistance for the most affected councils in my electorate.

Viticulturists, fruit growers and farmers have suffered very badly. Cherry growers tell me that they expect a much lower volume of fruit this year because they lost so many cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are necessary to grow cherries and, with the destruction of the blossoms, we have lost fruit. Planting has been delayed for other key agricultural products, such as strawberries in Myponga, McLaren Vale and Mt Compass.

We know that our state lost power during the second storm, and sizable parts of my electorate remained without power for several days afterwards. Losing power during the storm also affected our community in many very different personal ways. My office has heard stories of people becoming stuck in disability chair lifters and recliner chairs. Many rural residents that are now on the NBN spoke of not being able to use their MedicAlert devices once the power went out. In his responsibilities for the NBN, I urge Minister Fifield to consider the effect the NBN rollout is having on disabled and elderly people, particularly in regional areas, who do not have mobile phone coverage and are thus completely dependent on having a fully functional and connected landline at all times.

As is often in the case of adversity, the many storms and the weather damage that we had brought my community together. I have heard many stories of how the storms brought us together and I helped with the sandbagging in Mt Torrens. We filled hundreds of sandbags together in the rain and the mud. It was a very trying and hard day, but we worked together as a community. Once the storms had passed, neighbours checked on each other to make sure they were alright.

I must say though, that after the storms had passed, the road damage was still there. Part of the reason that our roads were so badly damaged is that South Australian roads do not get nearly enough funding compared to the rest of the country. We have 11 per cent of the nation's roads and seven per cent of the population but we still receive less than five per cent of the federal funds towards land transport infrastructure projects and, in 2014, we lost the supplementary local road funds, which made it so difficult and continues to make it so difficult in efforts for recovery.

We are now rapidly entering our bushfire season, with predictions of a very dry summer for South Australia. In my electorate, we are particularly vulnerable. We were already hit hard just a couple of years ago in the Sampson Flat bushfires, and everybody remembers South Australia's Ash Wednesday.

I again urge the government to review their funding model for South Australia's roads, and I request that they reinstate supplementary road funding to make it fairer for South Australia. We need to have access for our roads. I am not being melodramatic when I say that many lives hang in the balance from the government's decision.

In closing, Mayo and South Australia have been hit hard by the recent floods and storms. We have lost produce, crops have been damaged, roads have been washed away and magnificent trees have been uprooted. We will endure, as we always have in times of adversity; however, I implore the government to do all it can to support my region and our state to heal from these recent emergencies and trying times.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Wicks ): There being no further speakers on this motion, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.