Pasin talks highway upgrades in Barker

Whether you live in Berri or Bordertown, Truro or Tailem Bend, or anywhere in between, chances are you are familiar with driving the Sturt or Dukes Highways.

As someone who drives more than 100,000km per year across the 64sq km electorate of Barker, these two highways are as familiar to me as my oldest pair of RM Williams boots; while comfortable, they have been re-soled enough times. It's time to invest in a brand-new pair.

This is how I feel about the Sturt and Dukes Highways. As familiar and comfortable as I am on these roads, the time has come to stop patching, resurfacing or adding new safety barriers. The time has come for duplication of these major transport routes.

Both highways are major heavy-vehicle transport routes and are a vital part of Australia's infrastructure network. The network, officially known as the National Land Transport Network, is crucial for transporting goods within and across South Australia.

A major impediment for our freight industry is that neither of these Highways allow for the use of larger, high-productivity vehicles.

Existing truck limits and access constraints on the Sturt and Dukes Highways affect 88 per cent of South Australia's road freight. This is constraining productivity, and it's holding back progress.

The high-productivity vehicles I speak of are capable of carrying 34 per cent more freight per vehicle.

This would obviously mean fewer vehicles would be required on the roads to transport the same volume of freight. Not only does this reduce the cost to transport operators; it increases safety for all road users, and, in an increasingly carbon constrained world, it reduces the industry's carbon footprint.

Infrastructure Australia has listed the South Australian high-productivity vehicle network access, which includes the Sturt and the Dukes highways, as a priority initiative on the Infrastructure Priority List. Infrastructure Australia proposes improving mass limits and duplicating lanes on these highways.

I agree, the duplication of these important transport routes needs to be prioritised and included in the federal government's 10-year infrastructure investment pipeline.

If re-elected, I'll be pursuing this issue at a State and Federal level to see these highways become safer, more productive and Barker an even better place.