Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:16): My question is the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Can the minister inform the residents of Mount Gambier what measures his department is undertaking to maintain and repair state roads in my electorate, which have seriously deteriorated to the point of being dangerous over the last three months?
The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (15:17): I thank the member for the question. I was down there a few months ago with the member having a look at a number of the roadworks that were happening. Of course, roadworks through the wintertime are far more difficult. It is more difficult to get the bitumen to set in the wet, colder weather and we appreciate that. I am also told that is a time that there can be some disruption to the roads as well, so as the weather warms up those repairs can be made.
The member would be well aware from when I was down there speaking to him that, when I came into this position, when we came into office, we were left with a three-quarters of a billion-dollar road maintenance backlog. That's why we are investing billions and billions of dollars in our regional roads and part of that is repairing the roads.
The specifics as to the areas that he is talking about as far as repair that is needed, I am happy to take that on notice and check with the department as to where that is at. The weather does play a part in that, of course, but we also have a bigger-picture problem to fix. That's why we are investing in roads right across South Australia: Horrocks Highway, Riddoch Highway—a big load of work is being done on that as well—Stuart Highway, Eyre Highway and a lot of other roads on the West Coast, including the Barrier Highway as well, just to name a few.
We are investing, as I have said in this house many times, some $17.9 billion in infrastructure over the next four years and $8.8 billion of that is going into road and public transport infrastructure. We are very conscious on this side of house that our regions have been left to go to rack and ruin over a long period of time. That's why we are investing very heavily in our regions, billions and billions of dollars to fix the roads, to make them safer. We know people in regional South Australia are over-represented in the deaths on our roads every year and we know that improving the road infrastructure will play a big part in fixing that.
I know the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services was talking about that before when he talked about road safety, that it is a multipronged facet, and actually improving those roads and upgrading those roads and making them wider is a really big part of that. To quote you, sir, you say, 'A wider road is a safer road,' and I think that is 100 per cent right. Putting those road shoulders in place—again, a lot of this work we have done in partnership with the federal government—putting in audio tactile line marking and also the safety barriers. I know a number of those have been done on the Nelson Road in the member for Mount Gambier's electorate.
So that work is being done. Any specifics around particular areas where there has been any damage over the winter months, I am very happy to take on board and speak to the department about. I have no doubt they will be getting out and fixing those as soon as possible, along with the major works that we are doing, including the South Eastern Freeway where works have just started again today to upgrade those roads as well.