Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 April 1997



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 April 1997

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Parliamentary Record 32


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 23 April 1997 In conclusion, let me mention the oft-quoted piece of correspondence that the Chief Minister received from the previous Prime Minister under a request for freedom of information from the federal government. Almost all text in that document had been whited-out. The Chief Minister cites that as an example of the failure of freedom of information legislation to work. Frankly, that is not good enough. The fact is that, in the vast majority of cases, freedom of information legislation enables individuals to access their personal records and other relevant records in a timely and proper manner. It prevents the misuse of this information to a large extent and allows for transparency and clarity in the way in which governments do their business. I commend the bill to the House. Debate adjourned. MOTION Federal Budget and AustralAsia Railway Project Mrs HICKEY (Opposition Leader): Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that this parliament unanimously calls on the Liberal National Federal Coalition to include a replacement for infrastructure bonds in the federal budget, to be delivered on 13 May, in order to enable the AustralAsia (Darwin-Alice Springs) railway to proceed. Over a year ago, in February 1996, the Minister for the Railway addressed this Assembly and stated: We have a stronger commitment to the railway project today from both major political parties than we have had for more than a decade. He went on to say that both major parties supported the project in principle and that, after the election, the major task would be to convert that support in principle to support in practice. The minister acknowledged the bipartisan support that existed for the railway project, not only in the Northern Territory, but also in Canberra and South Australia. Regrettably, the Liberal National Coalition government has not maintained that spirit to date. In fact, the Coalition government, elected on 2 March 1996, has lagged behind the commitment shown to the project by the former federal Labor government. I could only respect the frankness of the Minister for the Railway when he said that. He went on to say: We were fools not to accept the Hawke offer of 60:40 funding. It was a matter of pride in that we said it was the Commonwealths responsibility to fund it 100%. In my opinion, that was the worst mistake we have ever made. That was the first major failure by this government in relation to the railway project. The second major failure was the inability of this government to consummate a deal with Daewoo. A heads of agreement was signed in April 1995 between the Northern Territory government and Daewoo Corporation, to further the financing, design and construction of the railway project. In February 1996, the Minister for the Railway confirmed to this Assembly that Daewoo would facilitate $500m in private sector funding subject to Commonwealth government participation in the project. Subsequently, after one extension of the exclusivity arrangement with Daewoo, it was terminated. Admittedly, the Daewoo negotiations were not entirely within the responsibility of the Northern Territory government. Commonwealth governments of both political persuasions have insisted that, if the Commonwealth government is to participate in the project, an international expression of interest process would be required, effectively precluding any exclusivity arrangement with Daewoo or anybody else. 11412