Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

Other title

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





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 - Tuesday 23 November 1999 will be passing through this port. In the greater scheme of things, thats a reasonable amount. Its going to be about 6 trains a week. That will go up to 50 000 containers in 5 years, 100 000 containers in 10 years. Stage 2 of the port when it is complete will be able to cater for 250 000 containers of goods and produce, exporting as well as importing. I hope for Australia that we will be exporting more than we import. But by the same token, I will be quite happy to see the trade going in both directions through Darwin, and ultimately going though the rest of the ports along the railway line, including Alice Springs, which will be affected by the construction of this project. It is true, now that I am going to talk about regional issues, that Tennant Creek and Katherine will enjoy much of the work that flows from this simply because of their physical location and the desire of the corporation to start working in those places. Well, bully for those towns. That is a terrific result for those towns. I hear people saying that Alice Springs misses out, and the trucking industry is going to be affected. I heard the member for Stuart talking about this and Im astonished. I do not know, quite frankly, or off the top of my head, how many tonnes of steel will be required to build the railway line, but I imagine it will be a substantial amount. How is that steel going to go from Whyalla to Alice Springs, to Tennant Creek and Katherine? Let me think about it. Oh yes, of course its going to fly. Of course not, its going walk. No, its not. Oh, I know what its going to do, its going to go on the back of trucks. The very trucking industry which is supposedly threatened by the ultimate completion of this railway will have to transport the steel, the concrete and everything else from the railhead at Alice Springs, all the way through to Tennant Creek and Katherine, because there will be no rail connection until the railway is completed. That will give the trucking industry 3 years of guaranteed work and then the ability to know that at the end of it they are going to have to make plans for the future. I can tell you now that there are many businesses who would just absolutely love the chance to be in that position, to have guaranteed 3 years of contracts, knowing the outcomes of that contractual process and where they have to go from there. Those companies have 3 years to restructure, and weve heard from the Chief Minister today that some 70 jobs will ultimately be affected. Not during the construction phase, well have 2000 jobs as a result of that, but ultimately in the transport industry 70 jobs will be affected. Automatically at the completion, 20 of those 70 jobs will already be looked after by the railway workers shed which is going to exist in Alice Springs so we have now a shortfall of 50 jobs. To argue that a project shouldnt go ahead because of its results on current industries has to be the silliest thing Ive ever heard - and Ill tell you why. How many buggy whip factories still exist, how many chamber pot manufacturers still exist? The fact of life is that the world is a dynamic place; it is not a static place. We no longer use chamber pots because Thomas Crapper gave us a flush toilet. The world is a dynamic place, it changes and, as a result of that change, some industries will be affected. If we pursue the logic of you cant do this project by virtue of the fact that its going to affect a current industry, what youre ultimately going to do is load yourself down with industries that are not competitive in the international community let alone the local community and, secondly, if you take that argument to its logical extent wed still be sitting around banging 2 rocks together. It just doesnt make sense. Its the very nature of our world that it changes over time. The trick is to be right on the crest of that wave rather than allowing yourself to be drowned by it, and that, unfortunately, is inherent in the members opposite in terms of their economic planning. They believe that they can try and control the world, that the world will do what they ask it to do. The last 50 years is completely full of example after example of Labor governments, both here in Australia and overseas, trying to manipulate and control their economic environments with one disastrous result after another. The Ord River scheme, which was built 30 years ago, has cost the taxpayers money to build under Whitlams plan to open up the north, as well as the amount of money that it has taken to maintain in the meantime. It now only has a few places feeding off it because of these attempts to control the industrial nature of the economy. Allow the economy to decide those issues. Dont try and push the buttons, dont try and make things happen when they are not ready to occur because all you are going to end up doing is wasting money. Yet that is the exact threat of the arguments that weve heard here today. That we need control, we need to manipulate, we need to spend money on, as the member for Stuart said, a study to look at the economic impact. But we know what the economic impacts are going to be, $ 1200m spent, 70% of it in the local economy. Thats the economic impact. This is on a par with the Snowy River scheme. Were not talking about a cluster of houses somewhere. We are talking about one of the largest engineering