Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999
Parliamentary Record 20
Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 which type of transport to use more or less flexible. If you have a tight margin, the cost of transport becomes a highly prominent factor in the things that you think about when youre deciding which way to carry your freight. If you have a big margin, as reported by the fuel companies, then its less important. Although it will still be a factor - if people can do things cheaper they generally will - its not the overriding factor. The overriding factor can be something else. Another thing that surprised me was the physical damage thats done through motion. Trains, because of the nature of rail and the way that trains are set up, do create a rolling, side-to- side motion. Trucks dont have that particular characteristic. So for products that are easily subject to damage - for example, fresh fruit, eggs - youre less likely to put those on a train than on a truck. Thats what a lot of the retailers have said to me. The physical damage through motion is another item that will go into these decisions. The last major item is the cost of re-handling freight as you go along. Supermarkets prefer to have their consignments delivered ramp to ramp. They come out of one of their national distribution centres straight through to whatever store theyre being delivered to. They far prefer to handle that freight only twice - once at each end, where they have full control over the environment. If the product has to be taken to a rail yard and reloaded onto another form of transport for a short haul delivery service, they consider that to be a real disincentive to the use of rail. It may well be that transport services specialising in running freight for supermarket-type chains will stay with trucks. We really dont know for sure. Because of these complexities and the uncertainties that are involved, the Mayor of Alice Springs, Andy McNeill, and I have been calling for a detailed economic impact study to be made of life after the railway becomes established. That would allow, because of the construction time of the railway, enough time to have a look at the potential impact on the towns economy, the potential impact on the towns job base, and the potential impact through the spin-on effects of any losses in the transport industry, to try to get some counterbalancing initiatives going within the central Australian economy. These remarks, and the remarks Ive made earlier in public, are in no way a criticism of the railway perse. Its simply a challenge to this government to provide sound planning and sound support behind the major initiative that theyre taking. If you want to deride the comments, I can assure you there is broad concern about this within sectors of the business community in Alice Springs. Certainly, these are not issues that Im raising flippantly. These are issues that have been raised by the people who are affected most by the railway. Theyre people whose jobs - current jobs - depend on assessing this impact... Dr Lim: What do you recommend? Mr TOYNE: ... and giving them enough time to adjust to it. Ive already said what I recommend. I recommend a detailed economic impact study to be made particularly on the transport industry and the effect that the railway operation will have on it. We need to assess that impact. We need to quantify it. We need to look at other counterbalancing initiatives that could be applied to both Alice Springs and its region, to countermand the negative impact that this railway will make on the job base in Central Australia. The estimates that I have from 5 different sources within the transport industry all fell within the range of 100-150 jobs in the long term out of Alice Springs, not just the long haul work itself but also other, associated jobs. The multiplier effect that goes out into the economy through things like tyre depots, spare parts operations, fuel suppliers. There will be a secondary effect on those as well. Overall, it could lead right through if there is a significant drop in the number of workers housing their families in the town. Given that the town isnt overall in an expansive mood and hasnt been for some time, it would potentially impact on real estate values. What were calling for here is prudence. Many people are saying that there will be a significant impact on the Alice Springs economy. We have several years to respond to a detailed assessment of that impact. There are things that we can do to build other areas of the Central Australian economy. We have talked about it in here before; there are things like the horticultural development. I was talking to ... Mr Elferink inteijecting. Mr TOYNE: Thanks, member for MacDonnell. You are always helpful. I was talking to Tony Alicastro the other day. He is saying he has this value-added facility in town. It depends on the development of something like 50 hectares of produce, tomatoes, capsicum, those sort of things, that in his estimation would create 200 jobs in terms of the producing and the processing of that primary produce. That is an
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