Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001

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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





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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 - Thursday 31 May 2001 operational phase that will bring so many advantages to the Territory. It will change the transport modus operandi in the Territory. There is no doubt about that. That is what its all about. The trucking companies will have to manoeuvre to reposition themselves in that market. I have no doubt that they will be able to do that effectively and that new opportunities will arise that cannot be foreseen right now. I will add my congratulations to all of those involved, to the Chief Minister for all his hard work and dedication in pursuing this matter night and day over his period of Chief Minister along with all the others before him. Most importantly, I would like to congratulate Paul Tyrrell and Larry Bannister and all of the team that worked so hard on this. Even Otto Alder has been on this in the background. They have done a fantastic job. I think it was the Deputy Chief Minister who said This group is a group that could go anywhere - probably not just in the Australian corporate world but the international corporate world and hold their heads up high. As I mentioned, I was at a dinner the other night with the proponents of this project. Great respect was paid to them, the Northern Territorys negotiating group, for the way they conducted themselves - in a dignified manner with a lot of humour. That is the Territory way, isnt it? There is no job we cannot conquer and we do it with a flair of good humour. At the end of the day, we really do come out with the best project you can get and value for money. That is exactly what we have. That is what Territorians have and it will set us for the future. I commend the Chief Minister on this excellent statement. Dr LIM (Local Government): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the statement by the Chief Minister. I recall a statement by the then minister for the railway back in 1995 and his plea for bipartisan support for this national project. At that time, the members opposite were divided in their support and the then member for Macdonnell, Neil Bell, bagging it. The Alice Springs to Darwin railway was a 1911 promise; promised compensation which successive federal governments failed to keep. It was promised again and again with no federal government making any commitment until now. It is true, as the member for Sanderson said, it was one of Bob Hawkes pre election promises in 1983 but we know what it is like to get a promise from the Labor Party, dont we? At last it is no longer a wish. It is here at long last. Its completion will form part of the national railway grid. Just as the Snowy Mountain scheme and the Ord River project fulfilled regional objectives in their time, the Alice Springs to Darwin railway is the fulfilment of one of our projects and will lead us into the 21st century. It is my belief that the benefit to this country by way of additional social infrastructure, employment during the building of the railway and employment for the operation of the railway, will be immense. The railway is particularly significant for Alice Springs which, after all, grew up as a railway town. Just as the arrival of the Ghan in 1929 brought tourists, supplies and the comforts of life that could not be brought by camel, the new railway will expand tourism, freight links and business opportunities. The Alice Springs to Darwin railway will prove to be an exciting and economically beneficial time for Central Australia. There will be benefits to the environment when we switch freight transport from fuel and rubber-burning trucks to the railway. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions alone will be a significant benefit to the environment. These benefits are difficult to quantify in absolute dollar terms, but a benefit will nevertheless result. I regularly drive between Alice Springs and Darwin to attend parliamentary sittings. I also drive between Alice Springs and Adelaide on one or two occasions each year. Let me share an observation that I have made while driving along this north-south road: like myself, those who drive regularly along Smart Highway will have noticed a great difference in density of road train traffic between the two sectors, meaning the south sector between Alice and Adelaide and the north sector between Alice and Darwin. Driving the 12 to 14 hours between Alice and Adelaide one notices that road trains are few and far between. A few months ago, I drove back to Alice Springs from Darwin. I lost count of the number of three-bogie road trains I overtook. I lost count after running out of fingers and toes. In all seriousness, there were tens of them on the north Stuart Highway. The only factor that was different between the two sections of the Stuart Highway was that the southern section has a corresponding railway. It seems obvious to me that the trucking industry is using the railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs to bring their containers to the Centre and then driving up to Darwin. I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that the trucking industry will utilise the railway if it is extended to Darwin. A completed railway line between Alice and Darwin will undoubtedly help the mining industry in Central Australia. All these years, the carting of ore from isolated areas of the Territory to ports have been a major stumbling block to greater 7777