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Pitch for tram, medical research cash in Jay's "blueprint for cooperation"


Premier Jay Weatherill will today outline an audacious demand for hundreds of millions of dollars of Commonwealth “partnership” funding as he details a 10-point wishlist of state-building projects ahead of this year’s federal election.

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The Premier will tell a Committee for Economic Development of Australia luncheon that the “scale of economic challenges” besetting South Australia demands “a willing Commonwealth partner… committed to assisting SA along its path of economic transformation”.

“This is a blueprint for a new and more positive era of co-operation,” he says.

He will seek funding for a mooted extension of the tram network, with his Government today announcing a $4 million commitment for a “detailed business case” for the construction of the AdeLINK program, identified as a priority project by Infrastructure Australia this week.

Weatherill says the network would “support and contribute to the growing market demand for residential development in the CBD, inner and middle metropolitan Adelaide”.

“This work is about ensuring AdeLINK is ready to be funded, and we will be working with the Commonwealth Government and local governments to help us advance this exciting public transport project,” he said.

The push to formalise a tram network proposal follows Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan yesterday telling an Urban Development Institute of Australia function that “the actual alignment of the future tram extension is contestable”.

He said the Government wanted local governments “around the table” to garner a “community local view of how we can maximize the benefit of this infrastructure”.

“We’re willing to have a conversation with the councils about that… if they say ‘we’re going to pump our resources into this particular precinct’, that’s a conversation we want to have,” he said.

Weatherill will also escalate his campaign for Federal funding for the long-mooted Strzelecki Track upgrade, upgrading and expanding recycled water systems in northern Adelaide between Two Wells and Whyalla – with a priority focus on the Northern Adelaide Plains – and establishing the only proton-therapy unit in the Southern Hemisphere.

Labor announced the proposed John Chalmers Centre for Transforming Health – colloquially known as SAHMRI 2 – last year, to house the first Australian Centre for Proton Therapy and Research.

The pricetag was put at $280 million, with Flinders University putting up $60m and the State Government $44m.

It wants the Commonwealth to stump up the remaining $176 million, with his entreaty today suggesting the balance has not been forthcoming.

“There is currently no proton therapy machine in Australia, nor in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Federal Government funds – at a cost of up to $250,000 per patient – the treatment overseas of a small number of Australian patients,” the Premier argues.

“If a unit were set up in Adelaide, we could save money by treating patients here and treating many more people overall… we’d create knowledge-intensive jobs and develop expertise we can export to the world.”

In all, there are 10 priority areas for which the Government wants commitments from both parties before the looming federal poll – as Weatherill seeks to capitalise on SA’s status as a potential battleground state, emboldened by the threat the Xenophon Team poses in key seats.

These include:

DEFENCE, with a commitment to a procurement policy that will ensure a continuous build at Techport

REINSTATING axed funding for health and education

PARTNERING in the recently released Northern Economic Plan and sustaining production at Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks

COMMITTING to early learning reforms and

IMPLEMENTING the Murray Darling Basin Plan “on time and in full”.

“As we’ve seen this week with the Arrium announcement, markets for many of our products and commodities are turbulent… whole industries are rising and falling virtually before our eyes,” Weatherill argues.

“My Government is seeking not merely to respond to change, but to anticipate it.

“Our overarching goal is to create jobs… what we need is a willing Commonwealth partner.”

He says with recent Commonwealth decisions on Holden, defence and renewable energy “I think most people can understand South Australians becoming very concerned about their collective future… and I think we could be forgiven for feeling just a little paranoid”.

But he notes a “degree of improvement in relations recently”.

Federal Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne will be in the audience for the speech.

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