Federal minister for infrastructure Barnaby Joyce has responded to Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie’s calls for the federal government to play its part in funding the duplication of Victor Harbor Road.
The response came just hours before Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Deputy Prime Minister would take personal leave from Monday, February 19 after his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion was publicly revealed.
Last month, South Australia’s peak motoring body, the RAA, listed Victor Harbor Road as the most dangerous in the state, flagging a $600 million upgrade as a key SA election issue.
The RAA called on all SA political parties to commit to upgrading the road before the election, stating 43 people were killed or seriously injured on the road between 2012 and 2016.
On Wednesday, February 14, Ms Sharkie raised the issue during Question Time and urged the government to make a commitment to contribute funding, regardless of who is in government following the state election in March.
“The Victor Harbor – Goolwa region is the third largest Significant Urban Area in SA with its population increasing by seven per cent in the 2016 census,” she said.
“The Victor Harbor Road has one of the highest rates of vehicle crashes and is in urgent need of an upgrade to double-lanes – it’s an incredibly dangerous road.”
Ms Sharkie said she believed that if the road, with its usage and accident statistics, existed in any other state it would have been upgraded years ago.
“Yet, when South Australians look to their federal government, the government turns its back on such infrastructure,” she said.
In response, Mr Joyce sent a letter to Ms Sharkie on Thursday morning, February 15, stating the SA government would need to make a business case for the upgrade before the federal government could consider it.
“The South Australian Government needs to prepare a business case with cost estimates for consideration by the Australian Government,” he said it the letter.
“Any project proposal which involves Australian Government funding exceeding $100 million would also need to be assessed by Infrastructure Australia prior to consideration of funding.”
Last month, state minister for transport Stephen Mullighan told The Times the state government had identified the project as a “medium to long term priority” but did not say if it would make a commitment before the state election on March 17.