Parliamentary Speeches, Debates and Public Statements about the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway since Self - Government
Hawthorne, Marilyn; Northern Territory Library. Parliamentary Library Service
Research Papers; ParliamentNT; Research paper; no. 2
Contact Library & Archives NT for this resource; Made available by via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT)
Railroads -- Northern Territory; Railroads -- Northern Territory -- Alice Springs; Railroads -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Railway
Northern Territory Library
Research paper; no. 2
Atttribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Northern Territory Government
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However, the Hill Report throws some new light on the long-running rail debate. For any Territorians who have a real interest in the railway debate as such, I can do no more than commend to them a reading of Ian Stevenson's book 'The Line That Went Nowhere'. Not only is it an immensely readable and entertaining book, it contains extraordinarily interesting historical information about the lOOyear battle for the Alice Springs to Darwin railway link. Among other interesting titbits, it contains the fascinating information that one of the contractors on the line that ran from Adelaide to Government Bore I think that was the name of the original start of the link that eventually ended in Alice Springs was Malcolm Fraser's grandfather who was famous for all sorts of other things as well, I might add. Mr Speaker, so far as the Hill Report is concerned, the Chief Minister made a number of criticisms which, to a great degree, can be borne out by Page 288 examination. There are a number of things I do not agree with however. First, there are the Chief Minister's attacks on Mr Hill personally. After the inquiry brought down its findings, the comment was made that he is just a hatchetman for the Labor government. I do not think any reasonable person who takes the trouble to have a look at his record, where he has been and what he has done, could make that statement. If the Hill Report had come down in favour of the railway, the Chief Minister would not have been quite so critical of Mr Hill personally. Indeed, Mr Hill is a more than competent economist. That has been acknowledged even by people who disagree with him so far as his economic philosophy is concerned. He is in charge of the largest state rail authority in New South Wales, an authority which has run for years and is still running at horrific annual losses. Indeed, the New South Wales rail system began over 150 years ago. One of the major reasons for the massive annual losses that that rail system has incurred is the extremely over-ambitious rail construction projects that were mounted in New South Wales. The current government is having to wrestle with the problem of dealing with those uneconomic services. In fact, Hill has been remarkably successful. I have spoken to people on both sides of the political fence about this. He seems to be respected everywhere for his extraordinary administrative capacity and skill as a manager. He has curtailed, as no one else has, at least some of the losses that the New South Wales rail system has been incurring. Indeed, he has found himself in considerable trouble with some sections of the community for doing so. Therefore, I really do not think that the criticism can be sustained. There were 112 submissions to the Hill Inquiry and only 3 of those submissions were in opposition to the railway. As I said before, the opposition's submission was in fact in support of the proposal. Of the 3 who were opposed to it, one was from the Queensland government. It not only opposed it but threatened to sue the federal government under section 99 of the constitution if it gave a penny to the Northern Territory for the railway. One of the other opposing submissions was from the Australian tourist industry. I cannot remember whom the third one was from. The other 112 were in favour. I have already discussed the Queensland government submission so I will not go over that ground again. But I want to make a point which I have made before. I have made it in this Assembly in respect of other submissions that the Northern Territory government has made to the federal government. Yesterday, the Chief Minister levelled a lot of criticism at the Hill Report, some of which, on our initial appraisal, can be justified. He complained about the lack of methodology attached to Hill's conclusions. At the same time he said that, by comparison the Northern Territory's submission was a model of squeaky cleanliness. Even a casual perusal of the Northern Territory government submission shows that it is nothing of the sort. In fact, all of the criticisms which the Chief Minister levelled at the Hill Inquiry can be directed just as forcefully at the Northern Territory government's submission. I have made this point in respect of other matters. We are under constant attack in the Territory - an attack which any one with half an eye will see to be increasing every day in the extent to which we are funded federally. Every time I raise this matter in the Assembly, the troglodytes on the other side get up and say: 'Oh, he is
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