Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


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 - Tuesday 23 November 1999 corridor between Alice Springs and Darwin before the end of this year. I commend the Chief Ministers work on fulfilling the governments financial obligation to the project. The way that he has gone and spoken to the Prime Minister personally has been a great benefit. We have a fantastic project that will bring about an economic boost for many years, not just in the construction phase but for many years to come after that. I look forward to the involvement of many Territorians in the construction, the operation, and finally in the ownership of this great project for the Northern Territory that will bring benefits to all for years to come. Mr TOYNE (Stuart): Mr Speaker, my contribution will focus on the impact on Alice Springs, which, as earlier speakers have said, has already become a matter of public Im perfectly happy to accept that during the construction phase of the railway there will be numerous opportunities both for our business community, and with proper preparation and planning, of the type that our leader outlined in her speech. There are also quite obvious possibilities for employment during the construction phase. What I will be talking about is, not the construction phase, but the phase of living with the railway once its an operational rail service. The Chief Ministers speech started to get into the area that I want to talk about when he started to talk about Alice Springs existing currently as a railhead. Unfortunately he didnt extend the argument and say what it will exist as once the railway is established. It will then exist as a stopover. It is one point on the travel by those trains from Adelaide to Darwin - fairly obvious stuff. Its this phase of the railway, when its actually operating, and where its competing with the trucking industry for the carriage of freight and with the - presumably, if there is a passenger service, with the bus services and air services for the carnage of people - that I focus my attention on in terms of trying to assess the impact on Alice Springs and central Australia. In order to put my arguments, I d like to present this as a case study. Ive been around and seen a number of the transport firms operating the long haul services out of Alice Springs, both up to Darwin and down to Adelaide and beyond. I take as an example a medium sized firm that operates currently out of Alice Springs, one that is performing a contract for Woolworths, and that firm every year spends Sim on parts for its trucks. A member: Where? Mr TOYNE: It is spent in Alice Springs, by and large, according to die proprietor. $2.5m per year is spent on fuel out of Sadadeen. $20 000 to $50 000 per month is spent on tyres. The drivers that drive for this firm, 60 of them, each earn $1200 a week in gross earnings, which equates to roughly $2.5m of annual disposable income. Those drivers live with their families in the town of Alice Springs, so they are injecting, just purely from their own earnings, that sort of money into the town economy. Naturally, each of those drivers and their families require housing and so they occupy a significant number of homes within the town. If you multiply that as a medium size firm across the whole transport industry within Alice Springs, you are looking at a very significant part of the Alice Springs local economy. It is very important that we get an idea of the impact of the railway on that sector of business in Alice Springs if we are to assess any kind of long term effects of the railway. The impact on transport aiTangements is very complex. It can only really be assessed when you go to a case-by-case level, and the only way youll get that is through actual contacts with these long haul companies and also their clients. That would require detailed interviews with firms and clients operating in Alice Springs itself, and also people they deal with in Adelaide through to Darwin. The basic arithmetic of it is that 20 tonnes of freight going by rail, such as would fit into a 40 ft container, would cost $897 to travel up from Alice Springs up to Darwin. Trucks carrying the same amount of freight, 20 tonnes, charge $2100. On that arithmetic, youd expect that a vast amount of freight would be transferred from trucks to rail. It should be very easy to look at the amount of goods coming up in trucks, and that is what the railway will carry - and we can all go home. But its not as simple as that. I know from discussions with a number of people that there are many issues affecting decisions on which way youre going to carry freight. For example, in the several fuel depots operating in Alice Springs the main constraint on the decision on when and how to cany fuel up to Alice Springs is not the mode of transport or the cost of that transport. Its their fuel storage capacity. Its far more important for them that a certain volume of fuel is delivered on a certain day of the week than fuel costs. People in those fuel companies have assured me that their margins allow for either one of those freight costs to be absorbed within the cost of the transporting the fuel up there. They still make a margin on the retail sale of that fuel. The margins on products make the decision on 4752

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