Territory Stories

Parliamentary Speeches, Debates and Public Statements about the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway since Self - Government

Details:

Title

Parliamentary Speeches, Debates and Public Statements about the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway since Self - Government

Creator

Hawthorne, Marilyn; Northern Territory Library. Parliamentary Library Service

Collection

Research Papers; ParliamentNT; Research paper; no. 2

Date

2000

Notes

Contact Library & Archives NT for this resource; Made available by via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT)

Language

English

Subject

Railroads -- Northern Territory; Railroads -- Northern Territory -- Alice Springs; Railroads -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Railway

Publisher name

Northern Territory Library

Place of publication

Darwin

Series

Research paper; no. 2

File type

application/pdf

Use

Atttribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/83440

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/356590

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Page content

Mr Speaker, 112 submissions were received. The Leader of the Opposition and the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives, Mr John Reeves, argued for the rail link. The Labor member for Gray, which contains the city of Whyalla, argued for the rail link. The Labor government of South Australia argued for the rail link. Mr Chris Hurford, the federal Minister for Construction, argued for the railway. Mr Hurford, of course, is a Cabinet minister. Even with all of that, Mr Speaker - 5 Labor members of parliament, a Labor Premier and a Labor Cabinet minister arguing for the line's construction the recommendation from Mr Hill was that the line should not proceed at this stage. Page 295 Mr Speaker, there were only 3 submissions opposed to the railway line and one of those was a submission from the Queensland government. Another came from the Australian tourism industry. Members may recall the euphoria that was generated last July when the Queensland Premier, Mr BjelkePetersen, suggested that he would build a rail link from Mt Isa to Darwin, with spur lines to Borroloola and Alice Springs. Members may also remember the joint press conference between Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Chief Minister and Mr Olsen, the South Australian Liberal leader, who all proudly announced the construction of the Mt Isa-Darwin standard gauge link. Mr Speaker, at the time, the Territory Labor Party expressed its concern at the potential that this political grandstanding had to destroy the Alice to Darwin link. However, this did not deter the Chief Minister. He embraced the Bjelke-Petersen plan with both hands. Having thus worked his way into the great rail debate, the Queensland Premier proceeded to show his real colours. He was not proposing a railway line at all, as time has demonstrated. Mr Bjelke-Petersen's promises were election gimmicks. Quoting from the Queensland submission to the Hill Inquiry, we find that not only did Mr BjelkePetersen oppose the Alice to Darwin link, he was willing to bash the Commonwealth with the constitution if it funded it. I quote from the Queensland submission to the Hill Inquiry, page 5, section 7.1: If the development of a central corridor is to proceed, Queensland will be severely disadvantaged. Development of a central corridor should be concurrent with the eastern corridor. Queensland would argue for some form of compensation for the loss of trade through Queensland and the lack of social and economic equality for the people of north Queensland brought about by the Commonwealth assistance in the development of the Northern Territory. We have more of it, Mr Speaker, in section 7.2: 'Section 99 of the constitution specifically states the Commonwealth shall not give preference to one state over another'. Again, from section 7.3 of the Queensland submission: Similarly, fiscal equalisation is another principle longenshrined in Commonwealth-state relationships. The primary objective of this policy of fiscal equalisation has been to enable states to carry out their responsibilities and provide services at a standard equal to that prevailing in other states. However, Mr Speaker, the real punch line comes in paragraph 8.3 which reads: Development of a central corridor will severely disadvantage Queensland unless development of the eastern corridor is undertaken at the same time. Without the concurrent