Our transport and infrastructure

SA-BEST’s priorities include:

  • support calls for expanding the rail corridor to Mt Barker linking up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters. 
  • seeking to establish a parliamentary Select Committee to look at the feasibility of the Mt Barker rail project. 
  • revisit the decision to knock back the deep-water port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island.  
  • advocating for the refurbishment of the grain train rail line on Eyre Peninsula abandoned by multi-national grain handling company, Viterra. 
  • supporting a proposal by Chateau Tanunda owner, John Geber, to reopen the rail line to the world-famous Barossa Valley for a tourist wine train, and; 
  • ensuring appropriate funding by the SA Government to retain and expand the Overland train service between Melbourne and Adelaide. 

South Australia is witnessing a massive $18 billion spend on transport infrastructure with the key North-South corridor project the almost $10 billion allocated for the next stage - Torrens to Darlington.

The State Government is also committed to ongoing roadworks and upgrades in the metropolitan area and regions, intersections, bridges and completing the Gawler rail line electrification in 2022 along with other rail network projects.

This investment is welcome in creating thousands of jobs during a critical period in the continuing post-pandemic recovery. However much more attention is required. 

Rail corridor from Mt Barker

The transport needs to meet the demands of rapidly expanding parts of the Adelaide Hills - including Mt Barker - are not being addressed effectively.

Tens of thousands of daily commuters to the city are reliant on the South-Eastern freeway corridor and, with it, the uncertainty of delays that are caused by accidents and heavy vehicle movements. Dozens happen on this transport lifeline each year.

The State Government recently announced a plan to install moveable road barriers in the event of traffic holdups caused by vehicle accidents - but for the Hills communities it is nothing less than a band-aid solution to an ever-increasing problem of dealing with traffic flows.

SA-BEST supports the concept of creating a rail corridor from Mt Barker and linking it up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters.

The issue has been the cause of some debate because of the complexities created by the mix of rail gauges just to accommodate trains.

The State Government’s highly questionable line is that creating a new spur is economically unviable while creating a longer journey to Adelaide Railway Station than using cars or buses.  

However, supporters of the plan vehemently dispute this believing the costs could be in the region of  $163 million for infrastructure costs like stations, park and ride car parks and level crossings, with a further $154 million required for rail carriages - bringing the total to $312 million compared with the government estimate of $12 billion.

SA-BEST will seek to establish a Parliamentary committee to look at the feasibility of the project. 

Regional rail

Regional South Australia will never reach its true social and economic potential if successive state governments continues to abandon rail as an efficient and reliable mode of transport.

While the rest of the world – and other Australian states – continue to embrace rail as an economic and competitive form of transport, South Australia’s regional network is being left to stagnate due to a lack of vision and financial commitment by successive state Labor and Liberal governments.

It was extraordinary that Infrastructure SA’s 20-year blueprint for the state failed to include one regional railway project.

SA-BEST finds this state’s aversion to rail is bewildering.

In contrast, other Australian states are enthusiastically supporting the expansion of their rail networks, committing billions of dollars to nation-building intercity connections.

In the meantime, our once proud regional rail network is virtually in a state of ruin – left dilapidated and neglected by successive Liberal and Labor governments.

The company with responsibility for maintaining our regional rail network - One Rail Australia ( formerly Genesee Wyoming Australia {GWA})– has flagrantly ignored its contracted responsibility to maintain the network to the extent where much of it is now unusable.

Federal and State governments are continually looking at initiatives to stop the population drain away from our regions - while at the same time also trying to make them more attractive to young families and migrant families as a place to settle and raise their families. 

SA-BEST believes an efficient, reliable, and economic regional rail network is one such initiative that should be on the drawing board – not left lying in ruin. 

Rail is the backbone of efficient freight and passenger transport in just about every developed country around the world.

Yet not in South Australia, one of the largest states in the country. It makes no sense. 

Kangaroo Island-Smith Bay deep-water port

In August 2021, Attorney General and Planning Minister, Vickie Chapman, rejected a project by ASX-listed, Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers (KIPT), to build a multi-million dollar deep-water port at Smith Bay, on the northwest coast of the Island despite it receiving conditional approval by the State Planning Commission.

The decision effectively killed off a sustainable timber industry on the Island which would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy and created hundreds of jobs for decades. The wharf would have also provided services for other vessels, including cruise ship tenders.

KIPT had invested $29 million in its forest plantations on Kangaroo Island, including the cost of a Environment Impact Statement (EIS) and the development plans for the wharf to take logs and other freight off the Island - avoiding higher costs of using the ferry service operated by Sealink.

KIPT was also impacted by the 2020 bushfires on the Island, losing a substantial part of its plantations. Millions of tonnes of fire damaged logs that had been felled are in dam water storage still awaiting to be shipped during a time of critical timber shortages.

Sealink has consistently provided the Island with a reliable service from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw and continues to enjoy a monopoly after its long-term contract was extended by the Marshall Government.

However, the costs of shipping freight on its ferry service remain high without any subsidies provided by either the State or the Federal Government.

SA-BEST believes a deep-water port on Kangaroo Island must be prioritised and the incoming government – regardless of whether it’s the Liberals or Labor - must revisit the Smith Bay proposal and give it conditional approval and seek Expressions of Interest to complete the project as a matter of urgency. 

Point to Point Transport

The transport service which covers taxis, chauffeurs, tourist services and rideshare has been under review by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT).

The introduction of disruptive rideshare services by the Weatherill Government - and supported by the Marshall Liberal Government - caused severe economic harm to the long-established and regulated taxi industry.

Virtually overnight the value of taxi plates placed on the market by the State Government plummeted to the point where they are now worth less than 10% of the price paid by some owners, many of whom find themselves in financial distress from their investment done in good faith.

Post the midst of the COVID pandemic, many plates and vehicles remained inactive. Lease payments made to plate owners were slashed to next-to-nothing or simply returned.

While the taxi industry remains regulated, rideshare services are not required to meet the same standards or obligated to pay the same costs associated with owning a taxi.

Taxi Council SA - the state’s peak body representing owners - continues to complain about compliance issues by rideshare drivers and companies which are not actively policed by DIT.

A compensation scheme for plate owners introduced by the Wetherill Labor Government - funded by a continuing $1 levy on each taxi and rideshare journey - was inadequate to cover the loss of the taxi owners’ investments.

SA-BEST will continue to advocate for better outcomes for the taxi industry and plate owners.

In the 55th parliament, SA-BEST will move a motion to create a Select Committee in the Legislative Council that will analyse the impact rideshare services have had on established taxi services and whether there needs to be further remedies to correct the imbalance and economic hardship created by decisions by successive government. 


Successive state governments have continued to sell-off publicly owned assets to the detriment of taxpayers, making South Australia one of the most privatised states in the nation.

The Marshall Liberal Government has continued this practice privatising the metropolitan rail network to foreign-owned Keolis Downer.

The Labor Party, ironically, has indicated it will reverse the decision to privatise this important public asset.

SA-BEST MLC, Frank Pangallo, was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Privatisation which made several key recommendations in a majority report tabled in November 2021, including:

  • the establishment of an independent regulatory body to provide oversight over services that have been privatised
  • the establishment of a standing parliamentary committee to review existing privatisations and make recommendations on any proposed privatisations prior to government approval
  • subsidiaries of multinationals awarded contracts for delivering public services to publicly report on their domestic and international revenues and tax payments
  • protections of employment standards for those working in government services that are privatised
  • a moratorium on further privatisations on government services until all recommendations are actioned.

SA-BEST remains opposed to the privatisation of any remaining public assets unless there is justification after being scrutinised by the parliament. 

Road maintenance

While significant funding is being directed to major infrastructure projects, many roads and intersections in the metropolitan area and the regions remain in desperate need of upgrades.

In releasing its list of risky roads, the RAA cited key safety concerns about poor road maintenance, uneven surfaces, crumbling road edges, potholes and lack of overtaking opportunities.

According to the RAA, there have been 1171 casualty crashes resulting in 27 deaths and 1564 injuries on the ten riskiest roads between 2016 and 2020,

Among the worst roads requiring urgent attention are Main South Road between Aldinga and Sellicks Beach; the Southern Ports Highway in the state’s South-East; Main North Road from Gepps Cross to Gawler; the Victor Harbor Road; Glynburn Road between Payneham and Magill roads and Main Road from Coromandel Valley to Chandlers Hill.

Complaints from locals about the state’s worst intersection at Curtis and Heaslip roads, Angle Vale, continue to be neglected by both major parties with no firm commitment to fix it.

SA-BEST supports the RAA’s demand for the establishment of a $600 million fund to specifically address outstanding roadworks in the network and will advocate strongly for it in the new Parliament.