Open Editorial - SA Freight Council is wrong about the benefits of SA Liberals’ GlobeLink plan to South Australian economy

The following open editorial was published in The Advertiser online on 28 February 2017.

If the Weatherill Labor government and South Australian Freight Council want to fight the Marshall Liberal team on our GlobeLink plan at the next state election, I say bring it on.

The choice is clear; a vote for the Liberal Party is a vote for an economic vision for South Australia and a cleaner, greener and safer future for residents in our hills and suburbs.

Let’s get freight trains out of our residential areas, trucks off the freeway and Portrush Road and get our world-class farm produce straight on a plane bound for Asia.

GlobeLink will do all this.

It will deliver a transformational upgrade of South Australian road, rail and airfreight infrastructure. This infrastructure will provide our businesses and exporters with a much-needed boost.

It will help our local farming, industrial, agricultural and food sectors gain the competitive advantages they need to get premium quality South Australian products to markets across the globe.

Let’s start with the proposed regional air and freight hub near Murray Bridge that the Freight Council claims won’t work.

Unfortunately for the Freight Council we know freight hubs like this are working and working exceptionally well.

In November 2015, the first trial flight left Toowoomba’s Wellcamp airport bound for Hong Kong loaded with 50 tonnes of produce.

Today, Wellcamp operates regular international freight services, delivering fresh Queensland produce directly to Asian consumers. The Wellcamp airport was built and funded entirely by private equity.

If it’s good enough for Toowoomba to have a freight hub that serves global export markets, then why can’t we?

We can. The answer is GlobeLink.

GlobeLink will also remove rail freight trains out of our suburbs and hills. This is one of the biggest concerns for the people I represent in the Mitcham Hills.

We need to consider the needs of all South Australians, not just the membership of the Freight Council.

Justified fears of freight line derailment, especially during catastrophic fire danger days, will be abated for the community and of course, in time, we would be able to offer a passenger train service to Mount Barker and beyond.

With 41 level crossings along the rail corridor between Adelaide and Murray Bridge, moving rail freight out of metropolitan Adelaide would improve the daily commute time for an estimated 135,000 drivers.

Major efficiency gains can also be achieved by moving the rail freight line. Nearly 80 per cent of all rail freight passing through suburban Adelaide, is travelling to Perth from Melbourne. It does not make any sense for this journey to be taken through our hills.

The current Adelaide Hills corridor will reach its annual rail freight capacity of 10.7 million tonnes between 2025 and 2030.

Failure to develop additional network capacity will force the double stacking of freight trains on the current line, which can only be achieved by costly widening of tunnels.
It will also see trains of up to 1900m being pulled through the Mitcham and Adelaide Hills — this is the long term plan of our current Labor government.

We can solve these problems with GlobeLink and at the same time build an alternative corridor for heavy trucks which will benefit every motorist.

Globelink will create a dedicated road freight corridor, redirecting heavy freight traffic away from Portrush Road, the South Eastern Freeway, and ensuring that Cross Road does not become a heavy truck corridor, as favoured by Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan last month.

GlobeLink will increase commuter safety, reduce traffic congestion, create public transport efficiencies and mitigate noise and air pollution in our suburbs.

When it comes to urban freight policy, we must realise that having rail freight and road trains meandering through our suburbs on a daily basis is inefficient, dangerous and fails to capitalise on our productive capacity.

After 15 years of Labor Government, our state’s share of the national merchandise exports has shrunk from 7.3 per cent to 4.3 per cent.

This decline needs to be addressed if we are to become a competitive and successful place to do business again.

GlobeLink is a long-term policy that will deliver safe, efficient and sustainable road freight infrastructure, and help unlock South Australia’s boundless potential.

Sam Duluk MP is the Liberal candidate for Waite