Conlon defends absence from Senate inquiry

By: Jason Whittaker


The South Australian Government has received criticism for missing a Senate inquiry into public transport, held in Adelaide last week. SA

The South Australian Government has received criticism for missing a Senate inquiry into public transport, held in Adelaide last week.

SA and Queensland were the only State Governments not to attend the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Terms inquiry into public transport.

In Queensland, the Brisbane City Council appeared instead.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell accused the SA Government of missing a golden opportunity to push for more Federal funds for public transport projects in SA.

"We desperately need more money to improve our public transport system, yet the Rann Government passes up a wonderful opportunity to push our state’s case for a greater share of federal transport funding," he says.

SA Transport Minister Patrick Conlon rejected the criticism, saying the decision to turn down the invitation to appear was not "a missed opportunity".

"This is not a Government Committee, this is a Senate Committee that was set up by the motion of the Greens … in terms of it being a missed opportunity, I don’t believe there’s any missed opportunity at all," he says.

"I’ve had a relationship with the Federal Government since it was elected with Anthony Albanese … we’ve have on Infrastructure Australia, the main funding body, the South Australian Chief Executive of the Department of Transport.

"No other Government and State Government has that in Infrastructure Australia. We have first rate relations."

University of Adelaide public transport expert Dr Jennifer Bonham, who spoke at the hearing, reportedly said much more funding and a long-term commitment to public transport was needed.

"The $2 billion they're putting in is good but it's long overdue, and I think at least another $2 billion is needed," she said.

Public transport services to regional town centres were inadequate and too expensive for students, seniors and those with disabilities, the inquiry heard.

The hearing also heard the transport that was available did not have adequate access for the disabled and elderly.

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