8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last month, the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport handed down its report. Two of the recommendations contained in the report, recommendations 2 and 3, relate to regional rail. Under recommendation 2, the committee recommended that the state government—and I quote from the report:
…as a high priority conducts a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide, with a view to adopting similar trials of services from Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.
Under recommendation 3 the committee recommended that the state government:
(a) considers reactivation of regional rail for freight (particularly grain) and passenger services;
(b) in regards to regional rail, considers the environmental, health and wellbeing benefits of rail versus roads; and
(c) reports on expenditure on public transport in regional versus metropolitan areas per capita.
A story in yesterday's Stock Journal reports that grain producer Viterra is pushing for reinstatement of rail freight in Eyre Peninsula. Over the last five years, groups such as the South Australian Regional Rail Alliance have been calling for investment in rail infrastructure in areas including the Limestone Coast for passengers and freight. My question to the minister therefore is:
1. Has the minister read the report of the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport?
2. Does the minister support the reactivation of regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I haven't read the report that the member refers to. In terms of supporting regional rail, I think what is needed when we look at any infrastructure is a cost-benefit analysis.
The benefits to industry, the benefits to passengers, the economic impacts—both positive and also the costs—all of those things are appropriate before any decision is made. I am happy to refer details to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in the other place and if he has further information to add I am happy to bring that back to the chamber.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: given the focus on the regions, why hasn't the minister read the report of the committee and will she do so?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport is the minister who is responsible for that type of matter—transport, funnily enough—so I am sure that he is being briefed by his department on all appropriate literature that is available on the subject.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: does the minister not consider regional rail—and in particular regional freight—to be relevant to regional development?
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): Of course, every aspect of regional living is relevant to regional development, but that is different from being directly responsible for that. If I was to take a different view then I would potentially become minister for regional health, minister for regional transport, minister for regional education, the list would go on.
I am very fortunate that, as a regional member, I am able to have input when those discussions come up around the cabinet table as well as, of course, other discussions with my cabinet colleagues and my caucus around so much of this. Stakeholders who I meet with—which I do of course on a very regular basis, both here in Adelaide but importantly out in their own areas as well—do bring up issues which intersect with all areas of regional life. I am very fortunate to be able to have input into those discussions, but in terms of direct responsibility we of course have appropriate ministers for that.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: as part of the input into these discussions that the minister has, will she be advocating for regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I advocate for a wide range of issues. As I mentioned in my original answer, a cost-benefit analysis has to be appropriate for any type of decision that is made.
2 May 2023
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised:
The reactivation of regional rail is supported, where there is evidence that it sustainably meets a defined service requirement. Viterra and Aurizon's current investigation of Eyre Peninsula rail is an example of investigating rail, as part of a defined supply chain solution.
The Department for Infrastructure and Transport is assisting Viterra and Aurizon in their investigations and look forward to the outcome of their assessment and business case.