Eyre Peninsula freight

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:19): It is now just about 18 months since the railway on Eyre Peninsula hauled its last grain. In May 2019, the final carriage rolled from Cummins into Port Lincoln, which marked the end of an era, really. No-one was sadder than I to see that happen, but unfortunately the two companies involved, Genesee & Wyoming and Viterra, were unable to reach agreement on an ongoing contract, thus the train ceased. It meant that all the grain on Eyre Peninsula from then on was to be hauled by road, which added near enough an extra million tonnes to the road freight task on Eyre Peninsula—not insignificant.

As a result of that and a combination of both state and federal funding, some $32 million was committed in the last budget round for road upgrades on the lower part of Eyre Peninsula, which has seen the biggest increase in road freight. It took some time for the $32 million to be visible to local residents and truck operators. Certainly, DPTI were actively involved in site assessment and consultation with the local councils involved, myself as the local state member and the member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey. We were well involved with that consultation process and provided our own thoughts and recommendations.

A lot of work went into the preparatory work, and we have now seen much of the shoulder sealing begin over the last few months. The extent of that is through the Wanilla down to the Tod Highway-Flinders Highway turn-off, a particularly winding and narrow part of the road. Shoulder sealing had been occurring north of Karkoo. I have talked about this stretch of road many times in this place, the Tod Highway north of Karkoo, between there and Kyancutta. A lot of work has been done between Karkoo and Lock, particularly, and also some work between Lock and Kyancutta.

The corners have been concentrated on in the first instance. I congratulate DPTI and the subcontractors on the work they have done because they have certainly improved the road no end. There is still work to do. There are many places where the Tod Highway is still very narrow. Right at this very moment, the trucks are on the road. It is harvest time. People need to be very cautious about the way they approach their driving, as the truck drivers do as well—my congratulations to them.

Not insignificantly, it has meant an increase of truck traffic through downtown Port Lincoln through Liverpool Street. The trucks are getting longer. Certainly, there are some B-triples on the road now. That is all part of the efficiency drive, that the trucks are bigger. They have a flexibility and convenience that rail could never offer. Those trucks are travelling through Liverpool Street.

Some of that $32 million is going to be dedicated to work in downtown Port Lincoln on Liverpool Street, where trucks are traversing roundabouts and ultimately entering the Viterra site. Viterra also have spent money on the marshalling yards. I have not visited there for a time, but essentially they are moving to be able to cope with and cater for the huge number of trucks that will now be delivering. Harvest time is a critical time. There are many trucks on the road.

Throughout the rest of the year we are theoretically seeing more trucks, but the reality is that the trucks will be running just when the ships are in port and when shipping is due because those strategic sites that were established by Viterra some 15 years ago in both Tumby Bay and Cummins have proved very effective at holding grain up country. They are huge delivery sites; in fact, I think the site at Cummins is probably the second largest or even vying with Gladstone to be the largest receival site in inland South Australia. An extensive amount of grain is to be delivered and hauled.

Interestingly, there has also been work done on the east-west road, the Birdseye Highway, between Lock and Cleve, and Cleve and Cowell. Of course, T-Ports have opened their barging operation at Lucky Bay. That has in some ways changed the grain flow, and I see companies are actively buying into that site again this year. Harvest is underway. I hope it is up to expectations for everybody, all those growers on Eyre Peninsula. Please, during the harvest period, stay safe.


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