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SA paying too much for new South Rd upgrade: Labor

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Labor says the State Government will contribute $100 million more than it should to upgrade a new section of the South Road corridor.

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Infrastructure Australia announced yesterday that the 1.8km section of the corridor from Regency Road to Pym Street had been added to its priority list, just before the Federal Government made its upgrade announcement through the Murdoch press overnight.

The state and federal governments will split the cost 50-50 – a move that Labor says is out of step with deals it negotiated when it was in government on North-South Corridor upgrades at Darlington and the Northern Connector.

The Regency-Pym upgrade, when complete, will allow motorists to drive on upgraded motorways from Gawler to the River Torrens.

Opposition transport and infrastructure spokesman Tom Koutsantonis says the previous State Government submitted a business case for the upgrade in June 2017, which put the cost of the project at $354.3 million with 80 per cent to be funded by the Commonwealth and 20 per cent by the state ($70.8 million).

Under the deal announced today, the two governments will split the cost evenly, with South Australia contributing $177 million.

“Labor fought hard for South Australian taxpayers to secure a better deal on infrastructure projects, with a 20 per cent share for Darlington and the Northern Connector,” Koutsantonis said.

“Steven Marshall has rolled over and South Australians are paying the price.”

The section to be upgraded to three lanes in each direction will connect the completed South Road Superway with the Torrens to Torrens upgrade, which is yet to be completed.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher denied today that South Australia had been shortchanged on the project funding.

“Far from it,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

“It’s important to remember that a number of projects on the North-South corridor have been funded on a 50-50 basis including, of course, the Torren-to-Torrens project where we are presently standing. The Superway was pretty close to 50-50 and the Turnbull Government’s practice around the country in urban areas is to fund infrastructure on a 50-50 basis.”

Fletcher praised the new State Government for its “business-like approach” to funding negotiations.

State infrastructure minister Stephan Knoll said a 50-50 funding split for the new upgrade “seems like the appropriate way to go”.

“In fact, the project immediately to the north of Pym to Regency was funded at 50-50 and immediately south funded on the same ratio,” he said. “So the idea that somehow this little bit in between was going to funded differently is frankly ridiculous. In fact, South Australians want us to get on and deliver this project.”

He said the previous Labor State Government encouraged conflict with Canberra, which hadn’t served South Australians well.

Fletcher said the previous State Government had submitted answers to questions from Infrastructure Australia on its business case the day before the caretaker period began.

The new Government had answered further questions from Infrastructure Australia, which then approved the business case at its most recent board meeting.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies made positive noises about the remainder of the North-South corridor.

“Upgrading the remaining sections of the North–South Corridor continues to be listed as a Priority Initiative on the Infrastructure Priority List, and we look forward to receiving the final business cases for these projects in the future” he said.

He said the State Government should be commended for undertaking “post-completion reviews” on upgraded sections of the corridor.

“Post–completion reviews are vital to assess a project’s delivery against initial expectations, and provide important lessons for governments, industry and the community regarding what worked and what did not.

“In the case of the North–South Corridor upgrade, post–completion reviews on the completed sections have given Infrastructure Australia added confidence that the project will deliver significant benefits to the Australian economy.”

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