Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001

Other title

Parliamentary Record 28


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Thursday 31 May 2001 expansion of opportunities for Territorians - and that is at all grades. It is from the young person who might work as a packer in the retail ready section of this warehouse, the person who might want to set up the warehouse as a business opportunity and the freight arrangements and the handling that will have to go with it. It is very exciting. The awareness of Territorians is not yet complete because until recently, we have focused on - and it has been a massive job - trying to get the job done. That is, having the railway signed off and commencing construction. Now that we have achieved that, these real aspects of it will be able to be made known and Territorians will be able to better focus on what the railway is going to mean to people. This project wouldnt be anywhere without a fellow called Paul Tyrrell. I saw him at work and I saw what it did to him in terms of his appearance. If you have ever seen anyone end up looking like a stringy rag doll, that was Paul Tyrrell towards the end of it. I am not being derogatory; I am just trying to explain that this man worked his feet off. I recall not long ago when financial close was nearing, I was trotting off to some function in Katherine and I phoned him about 8.30 one Saturday night saying, Look - knowing where he was in Sydney doing the work and all that sort of thing - ... how is it going, Paul? and I received a further update. He just never stopped. He was ably supported, as the Chief Minister said, by Larry Bannister and Alastair Shields who, on most occasions, were with him; who on most occasions were working just as hard as him; and who comprised a team from the Northern Territory Public Service that equalled the best in the country. They didnt only equal the best in the country in government employee terms, they equalled the best in the country in corporate terms. We should be very proud of that and recognise just what these fellows achieved; the extraordinary commitment they gave at the expense of their own personal lives. I do not know how you thank anyone like that. I do not think there are appropriate words, but I hope in describing Paul Tyrrell as a sort of a stringy rag doll I have conveyed the picture of how much effort he put into this and what he achieved. Sometime, someone will write the history of the railway and Paul Tyrrell will feature prominently. I know how much effort the Chief Minister put in to bringing the project to a financial close: jumping on planes at very short notice; one of the investors pulling out late last year - all terribly misunderstood by the Labor Party. Their comments on that issue were made oblivious to the consequences, making it harder for everyone who was trying to get the railway project together. Sadly, they degenerated into a political attack in respect of the loss of that investor. They could not accept the fact that the investor pulled out because they looked at it and said This job is not for me. But the opposition, the Labor Party, tried to politicise it and in doing so placed the project in jeopardy. The sad part about it is they did not know that they were placing the project in jeopardy. They did not know that what they were doing was attracting unwanted attention at a very sensitive time in negotiations to finance a $ 1.3bn project. No awareness, either, of how hard it is to get a commitment of $1.3bn these days from national companies, three Australian governments and international financiers. Throwing the balls in the air, trying to keep them from falling to the ground, making sure they are all caught and the process continues, you are distracted as a Chief Minister by having to deal with the ridiculous remarks and suggestions made by the Labor Party at the time. So inept that they did not even realise that they were placing the project in jeopardy. Only a couple of weeks ago, I went out to the sleeper plant in Katherine. You hear about it as being a sleeper plant, but it is much more than that. The site is a couple of kilometres long. The sleeper factory itself will be 200m by 20m wide but in addition to that, just to the south of it will be the welding plant that will butt the 27m lengths together, weld them together into continuous strips 300m long and they will be welded in place on the railway line itself. Then just a little bit further south of that there is a fuel storage facility which will hold fuel for diesel locomotives and coming into that on an angle, which will eventually link up with the railway line itself, is the locomotive service area. The facility will be there well into the future. It will provide jobs because there will have to be people working there once the train is operating. We are already looking at the need to construct rail passenger terminals. When the railway line was first mooted - and even up until a year ago - it was only going to be freight. Great Southern Rail now are going to run the Ghan service right through to Darwin. This will bring a new perspective to tourism in places like Alice Springs and Katherine because it is going to operate in a way that no other train operates. It will come through from its linkages in Sydney with the Ghan coming through South Australia and up to Alice Springs. It already brings around 50 000 passengers a year. That is expected to grow to 85 000 passengers in a few years time. It will not just stop in Alice allowing people get off and on as they do with trains; it will stop in Alice for the best part of a day so people can go to the Desert Park, they can go to other places or they can get off and catch the one the following week. 7763