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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 889

Mr O'NEIL —My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. In view of the sub-standard condition of the Stuart Highway and the very high level of unemployment in my electorate of Grey can the rate of construction of the Stuart Highway be accelerated? When will the highway be completed? Further, can the Minister say when he expects work to begin on the construction of the overpass to replace the notorious level crossing at Stirling North, the site of numerous fatalities?

Mr PETER MORRIS —I am aware of the deplorable condition of the Stuart Highway and the need for acceleration of construction work on that project. I am also aware of the dangerous level crossing at Stirling North near Port Augusta in the honourable member's electorate and its very bad accident record. The honourable member has made me very much aware of those two problems through his repeated and very effective representations. He is a good, hard working member.

This Government has given the highest financial priority to road works and road construction, unlike those who sit opposite who managed in seven years of government to decrease real expenditure on roads by more than $500m. That is the record of those opposite.

Mr Steele Hall —Tell us about the Northern Territory railway.

Mr PETER MORRIS —We have two camel riders opposite-the camel rider from Kooyong and the camel rider from Richmond. Their contribution to the railway seems to be to ride camels. But, having mounted the camels, they could not dismount without putting their feet in it.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I suggest that the Minister might be stretching relevance too far.

Mr PETER MORRIS —This year this Government will provide $100.1m for road works in South Australia. It will provide a significant boost to industry in South Australia and it will provide something like 1,400 new jobs in South Australia, particularly in the electorate of Grey, as the honourable member has asked. As I said, we are committed to an acceleration of works on the national highway. I am pleased to be able to inform the honourable member for Grey and the House that we have decided that an additional $4.5m is to be made available to South Australia this year for acceleration of work on the Stuart Highway. My understanding is that that work should complete the sealing of the Stuart Highway to the Northern Territory border by 1986, in time for sesquicentenary celebrations in South Australia.

In relation to the second matter that the honourable member raised-the railway overpass in Stirling North, near Port Augusta-I have today approved, under the Australian bicentennial road development program for South Australia a provision of $3.1m. A quarter of a million dollars will be provided this year, and that will enable work to commence this year on removing a very dangerous crossing for the people in that area.