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 contingent equity for the government compares with the total commitment on contingent equity of just under $70m, with the governments commitment being on a last-in, first-out basis. I am confident that the government will be able to sell its equity and contingent equity commitments in the marketplace before the funds are in a position to be called in at the end of the construction period. With the shift in operational risk from the public to the private sector, we are now part of the new era of government and private sector partnerships. I congratulate and welcome all members of the consortium to the Territory where I am sure they will remain as long-term participants and contributors as they seize the opportunities we have to offer. Mr Speaker, I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues for the work they have put into making the AustralAsia railway project a success, together with members of the parliamentary wing of the Country Liberal Party past and present. It has been an exhaustive process and has required a lot of faith in individuals to reach that end but it has resulted in a justifiable feeling of satisfaction tinged with a sense of relief. My thanks, too, to the South Australian Government led by Premier John Olsen for the support of that state and their cooperation in joining with the Territory on the establishment of the AustralAsia Railway Corporation. South Australia had the courage to back the project in a very significant way, recognising the benefits that the project will bring to the state. This is truly an historic time for the Northern Territory of Australia. The project is important for Australia. In an historical sense, when railway construction is completed in three years, we will see the realisation of a dream that has been in the minds eye of many Australians with an interest in northern development for 150 years. It is remarkable that this dream has been held to for so long. The project is not only important looking back. In looking to Australias future, developments in the north will be centre stage this century. The railway will be very important in this future, providing as it will an initial construction boost to the national and regional economies. Then the introduction of competition in transport services will make more competitive the industries of the north from the Kimberley to Carpentaria. Just as important in a long-term sense will be the new trade route to Asia. There will also be social, defence, environmental and regional development benefits that could not be realised without the railway. We think the Territory, through the AustralAsia railway project, has shown what can be done through foresight and persistence. Our next task is oil and gas in the Timor Sea. This is a great time for the Territory and Territorians; a time of opportunities like never before. I am proud and privileged to be its Chief Minister. Mr Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of the statement. M r STIRLING (Nhulunbuy): We welcome the statement this morning. It represents in all ways the final sign-off on the AustralAsia Railway. It suitably commends those who played major roles in getting the project through to commencement. The Chief Minister makes the point that all Chief Ministers have been committed to the project but in his view Marshall Perron was on the job longer and stayed on the job knowing that he was working towards a future project. That is a curious view from where I sit, to single out Chief Minister Perron. These things can only be viewed from an individual perspective. Questions I asked through the Perron Chief Ministership years - and those questions went to people like Larry Bannister; they went to people like Barry Coulter before Barry Coulter was given responsibility for the railway - went to what was happening to the various reports that had been drawn up about the railway project over the years. The answers were always, during those Perron years and certainly 1990-94, that those reports were doing no more than gathering dust on the shelf. It would be my view that Chief Minister Perron was not interested in the railway at all. I always believed that the take off point in accelerating momentum towards the rail was with the elevation of Shane Stone to the Chief Ministership. I think Shane Stone would acknowledge that role himself and he would be pleased to acknowledge the individual to whom most thanks are due, the one who gave the most determination and effort to push the project through: Barry Coulter. It was Shane Stone as Chief Minister who empowered his minister for the railway, Barry Coulter, to go and do it. The Chief Minister no doubt has a very different perspective on events. He was closer to these events and some of the people involved as a member of government, but only from his election in 1994. I was present in 1990-94 and I never saw Penron give an ounce in this Chamber or out of it towards pushing the railway through. It took off, in my view, after Shane Stone became Chief Minister. There is obviously a personal reason why Chief Minister 7759