Darlington Upgrade

28 October 2015

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 11:23 ): I too rise today to speak on the Public Works Committee report into the Darlington upgrade.

This is an important piece of infrastructure for many people living in my electorate who use South Road on a regular basis, particularly those living in the southern end of my electorate around Hallett Cove who come along Majors Road and then down South Road towards the Darlington interchange.

For a long time—as far as I can remember, as long as I have been around—that has been a significant bottleneck, particularly during peak hour in the morning, when vehicles not only come down South Road from areas such as Hallett Cove and down Flagstaff Road from Flagstaff Hill and Aberfoyle Park and into that bottleneck but also from the duplicated Southern Expressway, which obviously empties out into the same zone around Flinders University and the Flinders Hospital precinct and causes traffic chaos there.

This is a project which I am more than happy to speak in support of; I think it is a good infrastructure project for South Australia. I echo the words of the member for Finniss in thanking the federal government for their contribution to this project of $441 million. I would also like to congratulate the federal member, Dr Andrew Southcott, member for Boothby, who has spent the last nine years fighting for this project, being the major infrastructure project of need within his electorate of Boothby. I think it is a fitting tribute to Dr Southcott's career to see this project underway in time for his retirement from federal government in 2016.

I want to make another couple of points about this project; one is about the acquisition process, which is obviously a necessary process. An acquisition can often be a painful and difficult situation, but it is a necessary part of the process of major infrastructure projects. The acquisition process around the Darlington upgrade has had some difficulties. I have been contacted by a resident, Mr Alec Morris of Brighton, who is in a prolonged dispute with the state government regarding the acquisition of his property, an investment property he has in Bedford Park, and he has significant concerns about the level of compensation he is getting for the loss of that property, which he sees as a business asset as opposed to a residential asset.

Mr Morris is in a prolonged dispute and has had quite significant difficulties with dealing with the Department of Transport and Infrastructure regarding this matter. I know he is working with my colleague the member for Mitchell and also the Hon. John Darley, in another place, regarding this. There is work underway to investigate the process of acquisition, and I believe that is being led by Mr Darley, so it will be interesting to see how that unfolds in the coming weeks and months. However, I think that this is something that the government could handle with a bit more sensitivity when it comes to taking homes and assets from people. It is a necessary part of the process, albeit a difficult part of the process.

I also want to momentarily reflect on the fantastic work of the Friends of Warriparinga, a group of people from the southern suburbs who look after this unique little piece of the environment once known as Laffer's Triangle, now more commonly known as Warriparinga, which has been protected for over 20 years by local residents. It is a little triangle of land in the midst of suburbia and trapped between major pieces of road infrastructure within the electorate of the member for Davenport. Both he and I have met with the Friends of Warriparinga on site to experience that unique little part of our South Australian environment.

The duplication of the Southern Expressway a couple of years ago had a significant impingement on this local environment. Unfortunately, some of the fantastic revegetation work that has taken place over the last couple of decades was lost as a result of the duplication of the Southern Expressway. The Friends of Warriparinga now fear that the additional works required as part of the Darlington upgrade will also take more of this piece of the environment that they have been carefully tending for many years.

I ask the Minister for Infrastructure and his department, and the government, to really take the concerns of these people on board when planning this project and to try to understand the importance of their work and the investment they have put—physically, spiritually and emotionally—into that land over a couple of decades. They are good people who have been tilling the soil for many years—people like Beryl White and Rosalyn and Bruce who guided me through my walk around Warriparinga. It was certainly a little island of tranquillity in the midst of quite a lot of significant infrastructure. So, I hope this project will not cost too much more of that great piece of the environment at Warriparinga.

I pay tribute to Dr Nele Findlay, a resident of the City of Marion, who I knew during my time on the City of Marion council. Dr Findlay, who passed away in 2013, was a significant advocate who spent many years working at the Warriparinga site, and I think it would be a lasting tribute to her if this area were protected as part of the Darlington project.

Extracted from Hansard