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 into arrangements for the provision of publicly accessible infrastructure. The Territory is getting on with the job of making this project happen. Rather than deal in promises, the Territory has been instrumental in putting in place a major infrastructure project of more than $ 1000m, $ 1300m is the estimate, with much of the economic benefit flowing from this project to Territorians. A number of people have worked very hard on this project and the former member for Blain is certainly right up at the top of the list for his outstanding efforts in following this through, and all Territorians owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution. The project is going ahead. Its a significant achievement in our life time. Im looking forward to seeing the first train roll into our city and I commend the Chief Ministers statement. Mr HATTON (Nightcliff): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the statement. It is an exceptionally singular pleasure to stand in this House and speak positively about a project that has been so near and dear to the hearts of almost all Territorians since 1911. Actually, 1897 is when the first proposed railway line to Darwin was publicised. I can remember the former member for Barkly Mr Ian Tux worth, when I was first elected in 1983, wandering around with a great newspaper article from 1897 about this railway line going from Melbourne to Darwin. It was almost exactly the same route of this proposed other railway line from Melbourne to Darwin that theyre talking about now - and maybe one day that will happen, too. Certainly with the Alice Springs to Darwin line and the central spine rail corridor being built in Australia, the potential for further development of a critically important infrastructure to open up Northern Australia is going into place. Since 1911 we all have paid for this railway line having had our constitutional rights taken away from us for the price of a railway line. South Australia gave up all of their assets in the Northern Tenitory in 1911 and surrendered the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. The just terms compensation for that was to be a railway line connecting Adelaide to Darwin to enable South Australian business to take advantage of development in the northern part of Australia - a constitutional obligation of the federal parliament, confirmed by the High Court in 1949. The only problem is that they didnt put a timeline on it. Typical of federal governments of all persuasions, if you dont dot the Is and cross the Ts, they will find someway to screw you. And didnt they screw us! Thankfully, this government in the Northern Territory since 1974 has consistently fought to achieve this ambition, this goal, this critically important development for Australia - not just for the Northern Territory. In fact, we had achieved the standard gauging of railway lines coming up to Alice Springs in 1982-83. The Public Works Committee of the federal parliament had already completed their work for the 1983-84 budget with the first funding allocations for the continuation of that gang building the line through to Darwin. Sadly, Malcolm Fraser decided to jump and run for an election in early 1983. Some of us still have vivid memories of Bob Hawke on television in a blank room, sitting on a stool and with the sincerest look on his face saying: You can only trust a Labor government to build the railway line. And in the 1984 election campaign, the Country Liberal Party sought to remind him of his election promise. In fact, we were running those ads as CLP ads in the 1984 election and the Labor Party got a court injunction against us showing their ads. That is how embarrassed they were by the whole event. We have been very fortunate in the Northern Territory in that we had a member of this parliament called Barry Coulter who took up this cause, took the bit between his teeth in 1986, and worked and strove for it. Yes, there have been quite a few embarrassments and hiccups on the way through. I was speaking to Barry today and I reminded him of our interesting experience when we were trying to get EIE and Kumagai Gumi involved to build the railway line in 1986. Following a visit to Japan, a gentleman came across, highly recommended, called Bungo Ishizaki, and that led to the most embarrassing press conference I have ever participated in. Barry still persisted and persisted and persisted, despite the fact that the man trying to save the North Sydney Bears at the moment, David Hill, had to write his report 3 times to show the railway wasnt economic. Many international studies were carried out by the Northern Tenitory government proving it was viable, but it took the election of a Coalition government in Canberra before some movement became acceptable. The word in the Canberra public service was there was a ministerial direction: That file is never to be opened. They would not do anything to promote the railway line. Thats how much you can trust a Labor government to do any serious infrastructure development. But it has finally happened. Yes, weve put money up, and weve heard the opposition asking why we had to pay so much for it. Just think 4763

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