A new Barossa hospital and a sustainable water supply for irrigation are at the top of Mr Stephan Knoll’s priority list as he embarks on his final 15 months as Member for Schubert.
It’s been a challenging year for Mr Knoll, who resigned from State Cabinet in July after being entangled in the country member’s travel allowance scandal, but the Angaston father of two says he remains committed to serving the seat of Schubert for the remainder of his term.
“Essentially with one year to go, there’s a lot I still want to achieve,” he told The Leader.
“I’m in a position now where I know how government works but I’ve got the time to be able to get things done and not be busy doing infrastructure for the whole state.”
Mr Knoll said the Barossa hospital project is being “actively considered” by Cabinet, and while there has been calls to make further details public, he says it’s positive no announcement has yet been made.
“That’s good news, not bad news because it means it’s actually on the table and being looked at rather than having been dismissed,” Mr Knoll said.
Three hospital sites are currently being considered including the existing hospital sites at Angaston and Tanunda, and one at Nuriootpa, potentially near the Sturt Highway.
Mr Knoll said he met with the Premier, Treasurer and Health Minister recently on the matter.
“It’s progressing well… I think it’s one of those things that in the Barossa, people will only believe it when they see dirt being shovelled, and I get that,” Mr Knoll said.
“It’s been closer to 30 years now since this idea has been on the table, but it is something that I want people to know is at the top of my priority list.”
The second major project Mr Knoll is working towards is a sustainable water source for Barossa and Eden Valley vineyard irrigators using the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS), which would bring recycled water from Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant via NAIS Stage 1 infrastructure already in place near Two Wells.
“Bringing a pipeline across from Two Wells or Korunye to the Barossa to have it used on some of the most high value crops in South Australia is a huge opportunity,” said Mr Knoll.
Up to 12 gigalitres of water would become available through the NAIS Stage 2 project, which Mr Knoll would like to see renamed ‘Barossa New Water’.
He said a lot of work had already been done “in the background” including preliminary costing and an ‘Issues and Options’ paper prepared by Barossa Grape and Wine Association to ensure all stakeholders had a chance to have their say on the proposal.
“Having a water source that is 100 percent guaranteed, that’s fit for purpose, that’s climate independent will help to improve the average yields and that will help to improve our export markets,” said Mr Knoll.
“We’re hopeful by the middle of the year we have something concrete to move forward on.”
While the coming year will mark the last of the 38-year-old’s career in state politics, Mr Knoll is pleased to be able to reflect on the achievements of his term, which includes a number of significant road and social infrastructure projects, such as Kroemer’s Crossing and sporting facility upgrades.
Choosing not to run for re-election in 2022, Mr Knoll says time out of the Ministry over the past six months has allowed him to re-evaluate aspects of his own life, and while he isn’t yet sure what will be next, he has no regrets about his decision to step out of politics.
“It forced me to now look at what an alternative life would look like, being at home with the kids and having a bit more balance, being able to exercise more and do all those kinds of things,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy with where things have landed.”