Monarto growth

The idea of a northern rail bypass from Monarto to Adelaide’s port isn’t new.
Over the past decade it has been considered by local councils right up to the Federal Government – and now it’s the SA Liberals’ turn.
While the Opposition’s announcement has an aura of deja vu, it is a positive step forward for a Party which, for too long, has limited itself to reactive politics.
Here, at last, is a concrete point of difference between the State’s two major Parties in the lead-up to the March State election in 2018.
The recently announced proposal highlights some forward thinking that may shift debate beyond the vision-limiting four-year term of politics that has so often hamstrung effective politics in recent years.
In the scheme of what is likely to be a multi-billion dollar development, the Liberals’ $20m commitment to investigate a potentially State-transforming project is a drop in the ocean.
The biggest question mark hangs over the viability of the freight-only airport and, particularly, whether there would ever be enough demand for exports to be air-freighted from SA to make it worthwhile.
But it is clear that others also believe in the potential for both the road and rail bypass and a freight hub at Monarto, with local councils and both the Murraylands and Hills and Fleurieu Regional Development Australia branches having recently committed to an investigation into the economic and social benefits of such a project.
They can see a wealth of possibilities, from jobs creation to business growth.
Monarto is ideally suited to such a development – it’s right alongside key road and rail routes, has abundant flat and relatively cheap land, is already home to expanding food production, manufacturing and freight businesses and has a ready workforce to draw on from the Hills, Fleurieu and Murraylands.
There is also access to recycled water from Mt Barker, opening up the opportunity to create a new food bowl nearby.
The key point for Steven Marshall and the Opposition will be ensuring that there is a robust plan in place to attract businesses to Monarto, should its investigation prove that the project is viable.
If that happens, GlobeLink could be the economic answer to this region’s growing pains.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.