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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which the costs are based. The reduction in net benefits which results from these 3 deficiencies is multiplicative and not additive so the overall reduction is much greater than would at first appear. First, I will deal with the deficiencies in the forecast. The fact that the Hill Inquiry chooses to call its forecast ' illustrative ' is a clear indication of the approach of the inquiry to this key area. The forecast of freight demand is a fundamental issue in assessing the transport requirements of the Northern Territory and necessarily must be made in order to make judgments about an uncertain future. Equally, such forecasts must be cautious in approach so that, where judgments are made, responsibility is exercised in order to avoid excessive optimism or pessimism. The above approach was adopted by the Northern Territory, with its forecasting methodology clearly and comprehensively documented in its submission. With the resources available to the inquiry, it is surprising that the Hill Report does not document adequately the methodology used in producing its forecasts but chooses to report tonnages only. Furthermore, the inquiry places an apparent heavy emphasis on the Territory's own forecasts, something that is flattering to the Territory and rather contradictory to what the 2 previous opposition spokesmen said today. Indeed, it should be said that, in the absence of the inquiry's own work, the Territory's forecasts of transport demand in northern Australia are the most current and thoroughly documented in Australia. In short, they represent the best available knowledge on economic activity and consequent transport demands onwards to the end of this century. Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend why the inquiry has chosen to revise downwards the Territory forecast in an apparently arbitrary manner and to do so without prior consultation with the Northern Territory government. The Hill Report has based its case on a freight tonnage 32% lower, in its illustrative projection one, than the Territory government's own estimate of rail freight generated by specific projects. We reject the Hill Inquiry's illustrative projections as it has failed to use the quantifiable techniques necessary to estimate with any degree of certainty the freight to be generated by Territory projects. Page 300 Mr Deputy Speaker, the Northern Territory government's projection of 307 000 t, of populationdependent non-bulk freight is based in part on survey data of the recent past, which shows a clear trend towards use of the central corridor and supports the assumption that 60% of freight will travel by the central corridor by the 1990s. The inquiry's claim that the current upgrading of the Barkly and Landsborough Highways in Queensland will reduce this proportion to 50% is unsupported in the report. The Hill Inquiry's illustrated projection reduces the Territory's estimate, in this case 220 000 t, and that includes a figure of 15% loading on the mining intended to cover the general cargo component of mining operations. This latter assumption derives from the previous argument that the general cargo required for mining, like explosives and reagents, is part of the non- bulk population-dependent requirements of the Territory clearly a wrong assumption. It almost goes without saying that the tourist requirements are also ignored. Mr Deputy Speaker, the mining industry freight forecasting is the area where the inquiry's forecasts are most seriously underestimated. Only after a rigorous, project-by-project analysis of technical and economic data provided by the relevant mining companies did the Territory government conclude that the freight expected to be generated by the mining industry on the northsouth corridor in 1992 would be 733 000 t. Full detail of the methodology, expected inputs and outputs is provided in the Territory government's submission. The inquiry, however, selected 2 substantially lower tonnages for its analysis: 478 000 t and 578 000 t. The inquiry has not provided details of its methodology and has not justified its estimates. What are the reasons for the misjudgments of the Hill Inquiry? The inquiry took the view that some 158 000 t of mining inputs included in the Northern Territory government's submission as general stores in 1992 were really population-dependent non-bulk freight. Its claim was that this was double counting. This is incorrect. As discussed earlier, general stores refers only to material input used directly
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