Marshall appoints new SA transport minister

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has appointed Corey Wingard as Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.

The appointment follows the resignation of Stephan Knoll from the frontbench, due to an expenses scandal. Knoll, who represents the Barossa region electorate of Schubert, had claimed an accommodation allowance for country MPs who need to stay in Adelaide for parliamentary business before expenses were incurred. Knoll has agreed to repay expenses claimed.

In a statement, Knoll said that his resignation would allow the government to get on with responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Wingard, who takes on Knoll’s portfolio in addition to his sport, recreation, and racing portfolios, has been a member of the SA House of Assembly since 2014 and was previously the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services.

The new cabinet will be sworn in on Wednesday morning and meet for the first time on Thursday.

South Australian Freight Council executive officer Evan Knapp welcomed the appointment of Wingard.

“SAFC looks forward to working with incoming Minister Corey Wingard MP on transport, logistics and infrastructure-related issues,” Knapp said.

“Critical for the new Minister’s attention will be urgently completing North South Corridor planning works, reducing the State’s road maintenance backlog, and populating Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Project List (IPL) with more long-overdue South Australian projects.”

Rail, Tram and Bus Union SA/NT secretary Darren Phillips called for the new minister to abandon the government’s privatisation of transport services.

“Privatisation will see responsibility for keeping public transport safe during the pandemic outsourced to private contractors,” said Phillips.

“Given the diabolical economic implications of the pandemic crisis, with the state being plunged into recession, it is galling that the Marshall Government wants to put the jobs of South Australian transport workers at risk. The privatisation of the tram system saw the number of tram drivers cut by ten per cent.”

IPA brands franchising of Adelaide metro a ‘smart decision’

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) has praised the South Australian Government’s decision to franchise train and tram services in Adelaide.

The policy-focused think tank has “consistently recommended” bus and train services be franchised, according to chief executive Adrian Dwyer.

“Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Infrastructure Australia, and many others have consistently recommended that state and territory governments pursue the franchising of their bus and train services and its good to see that SA has listened,” he said.

South Australia is the only remaining state or territory in Australia to maintain a publicly-funded metro system. The state’s bus system was first privatised in the year 2000, and is set to be re-tendered under the incumbent Marshall Government. 

SA Minister for Transport Stephan Knoll stated that SA needed to “keep pace with the rest of the nation” in order to deliver a more customer-focussed public transport solution for Adelaide, which is subject to some of the lowest levels of patronage in Australia.

Dwyer stressed that the SA Government’s decision to franchise the metro was different to privatising it, and that it was unhelpful to conflate the two. 

“Customers don’t care about who operates their bus or tram, they care that it’s clean and on time,” he said. 

“Train and tram customers right around the country are already enjoying the benefits of having the best private providers operating their service and South Australian customers should too.”

Steven Marshall appoints SAPTA board members

The South Australian Government will add four new members to the board of the South Australian Public Transport Authority Advisory (SAPTA) board from July 1.

The appointments coincide with the transition of South Australian public transport services from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) to SAPTA on the same date.

SAPTA will be charged with the delivery of customer-focused reforms for South Australia’s public transport network. Adelaide has some of the lowest rates of public transport use in Australia, with around 84 per cent of workers choosing to commute to work by car according to 2018 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The four members set to join are Reece Waldock, Monica Ryu, Fergus Gammie and Chris Vounasis, all of whom bring several years of industry experience to the board. 

Waldock is the former chief executive officer of the Western Australian branch of the PTA, while Gammie is a former chief executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency. Vounasis holds more than 18 years of experience in local government and the private sector while Ryu brings over 20 years of experience in transport innovation

Waldock will act as the board’s presiding member, reporting to SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.

“We have assembled an experienced team with great technical expertise that will provide frank and fearless advice to government,” Knoll said.

“Public transport patronage growth has basically stalled over the last decade and we need to provide a better service to encourage more South Australians to catch a bus, train or tram.”

Governments budget $402m for Adelaide road grade separations

The South Australian Liberal Government and Federal Government are joint funding a $402 million grade separation project at Torrens Road (Ovingham) and Brighton Road (Hove) in Adelaide.

The funding will be delivered as part of the 201920 state budget and includes $231 million to fix the rail crossing at Torrens Road and $171 million for the crossing at Brighton Road. The funding builds on the previously announced $305 million for intersection upgrades for a total of $707 million in congestion-related infrastructure spending for the city.

State Premier Steven Marshall said that the changes would allow South Australians to spend less time stuck in traffic and more time with their loved ones at home.

“The State Liberal Government is building congestion busting infrastructure to cut travel times for motorists and improve safety on our roads,” said South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

“We are partnering with the Federal Liberal Government to deliver two grade separations and seven intersection upgrades in the upcoming state budget.”

The two projects are intended to remove the crossings along the busy Seaford and Gawler train lines in order to ease congestion and cut travel times, according to Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.

“The Seaford and Gawler train lines are our most heavily patronised train lines and when the boom gates come day, it frustrates motorists on their way to work or home,” Knoll said.

“In fact, we know that during peak periods at the Brighton Road level crossing, the boom gates are down for about 20 per cent of the time – or about 25 minutes.”