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Question: Great Southern Bike Trail

14 October 2021


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Treasurer on the topic of the feasibility study into the major cycling trail connecting Adelaide to Melbourne.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Ahead of the 2018 state election, the Marshall government, while in opposition, promised to build the 'Great Southern Bike Trail', describing the proposal as a premier tourist attraction that would inject millions of dollars into our economy. Today, reports in InDaily suggest that this plan has been scrapped, despite the government undertaking a feasibility study into the proposal in 2019. My question to the Treasurer is: will the government make the feasibility study into the proposal, and the reasoning behind scrapping it, public and will the government commit to redirecting the funds promised to the development of a cycling network throughout the regions?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): It is appropriate that that question is raised today, because we farewelled in a speech the Hon. David Ridgway, and this was a real passion of the Hon. David Ridgway. Not that I ever saw him on a bike, but it was a real passion for him. I don't know whether that would be an attractive sight, but this was a real passion for him as the shadow minister.

The PRESIDENT: I remind the Treasurer about injurious reflections, but once again he is a former member.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Exactly, I can be as injurious as I wish now, within the standing orders. As I said, he certainly pursued this in opposition. He had discussions on it, I recall, with the Victorian either shadow or tourism minister at the time and also the federal minister at the time. That portfolio has obviously now been passed on to the Premier, who is now the Minister for Tourism. It was as the tourism shadow and then the tourism minister that he was pursuing the issue, not as the recreation and sport minister, which he was not. I am happy to take that particular part of the question on notice to see whether there is a business case, or whatever it was the Hon. Mr Simms referred to, and what might be made available.

I can certainly recall, however, because I put the costings together, that the wording of the commitments in opposition was very careful, and there were certainly no specific elements of funding put aside in our publicly released costings documents in relation to anything other than exploration of the particular issue. We are always very careful in terms of what we put on the public record, and I can assure the Hon. Mr Simms there were no specific large lumps of money committed by the then Liberal opposition in relation to this issue. It was an issue we were prepared to continue to explore. My recollection was—and again I will take advice—that the minister, when he was the Minister for Tourism—

An honourable member interjecting:


The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: —did pursue some elements of the project or the proposal, clearly the elements that were closer to Adelaide, I think, and there was some early discussion about the near-Adelaide part of the trails. But, again, I will seek some clarification and advice from the Premier or the Minister for Tourism, who has now inherited that particular portfolio area, and see what information, if any, I can bring back to the chamber.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: noting the Treasurer's response, will he commit to redirecting needed funds to cycling infrastructure in the regions? That was the other part of the question that wasn't answered.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): Well, I'm happy to answer that question, because I don't believe there were any funds that were committed to this particular project. That's the point that I made: in opposition we made no commitment. Perhaps I should have extended that by saying in our first budget we made no specific commitment of funds. To my knowledge, other than funding for the exploration of the proposal—there might have been business case funding—in terms of actual dollars for projects, there was no, 'Here's $50 million or $100 million' towards this particular project.

As I said, the minister might have been able to get funds either from tourism or rec and sport or somewhere else to start elements of what might have been his proposal, but there was no separate bucket of money promised in opposition or indeed implemented in government for this particular project that can be redirected to the worthy cause that the member is espousing.