South Australia Shadow Minister for Industry and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith
Labor Shoots Itself In The Foot On Expressway Jobs
Victor P Taffa
The State Opposition is demanding Premier Jay Weatherill explain why the $407 Million Southern Expressway project has special industry participation arrangements which are not extended to workers and small businesses in other regions across the State.
Government officers giving evidence before the Public Works Committee of Parliament were grilled today on how Labor would deliver on its promise to ensure that 50 % of the jobs would be given to southern suburbs workers, while jobs in other projects like the Northern Expressway have received no government participation benchmark.
“This is either a broken promise to the people of the south, or it’s a cherry-picked favour not extended to all workers and small businesses, or else it’s just a load of Labor baloney.” Shadow Minister for Industry and Trade and Public Works Committee member Martin Hamilton-Smith said.
“On the eve of the election on the 25th of February 2010, the government promised that southern suburbs workers would be employed to fill half of the jobs created during the duplication in the local southern suburbs Messenger newspaper. In an effort to get his former staffer re-elected, Transport Minister Pat Conlon said Member for Mawson Leon Bignell would ensure that 200 of the jobs were filled by young people and disadvantaged groups living in the south. Was it all a big fat lie?”
“Sadly, the Government’s own Industry Participation Policy says nothing of 50 % participation rates for local jobs.1 PWC recently heard that the $435 Million Adelaide Oval project would only commit to a 15 % local jobs participation rate. Let’s be consistent and fair to all.
“Civil contractors and small businesses have complained in recent times that the majority of work on major infrastructure projects, like the Northern Expressway and the desalination plant, has gone to interstate companies or overseas interests. Why is this project is different?
“Not only has the project blown out by $127 Million from $280 Million at election time to $407 Million today, it will also fail to deal with the Darlington Interchange, the key to accessing the Expressway.
“This project has exposed Labor’s spin which continue to flourish under the new Weatherill regime. I challenge Labor to meet the promised 50 % local southern suburbs jobs promise. If they can’t fulfil their promises, then the Premier and Mr. Bignell owe the south an apology.”
“If the Premier is serious, why can’t he commit to a similar target for all publicly funded infrastructure projects?” Mr. Hamilton-Smith said.