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 briefly about the railway line. Its not just a railway line. The Chief Minister in his statement and other speakers today have outlined well many of the advantages - most of them relatively short-term or short-to-medium-term advantages - that will come from this railway line. But understand, the railway line is not an end in itself. It is an infrastructure facility that opens up potential for the economic growth and development of the Northern Territory and the deepening of that growth. Why is it called the AustralAsia Railway project? It comes by transporting goods from the southern parts of Australia along that railway line, through our ports and into the Asian nations to our north. It is not only there. There will be goods from our north going through the port of Darwin and on to that railway line south into the major capitals of Australia. There will be volumes of freight through the Port of Darwin. And whats the potential then? I will tell you exactly what it is. With those volumes coming past our front door, the potential then is to persuade manufacturers to relocate their operations here to shorten their logistical supply lines. That can be a major step towards achieving what must be achieved in the overall development of the Northern Territory. The one area of our gross state product where we are low is in manufactured products. We do not have the domestic market to support it. We have put in a lot of work through the Trade Development Zone and other activities, trying to create the volumes to justify manufacturing here and fill that hole in our economy. Its the big hole that still remains in our economy. This railway line opens the potential to build manufacturing here. I hope Im not regarded as doing a Barry Coulter on this, but I remind everybody that Singapore, the biggest manufacturing base in South-East Asia, became that by first being a trading port. It did not manufacture, but it moved goods in and out through there. And then the manufacturing came in behind that volume going past their front door. That is the real potential for the Northern Territory arising from this railway line. The real potential for Australia is, as Darwin develops and gets the infrastructure and facilities in place here, to have a major, self-sustaining city on its north coast - the only major city on its north coast. That shrinks the sense of isolation right across the north of Australia. It means that the supply lines to the Kimberleys shrink. Development of this part of Australia goes beyond a dream towards a reality. Thats why its an important national project. And this is what has kept our government fighting to achieve this ambition, not just for the Tenitory but for Australia as a whole. We have had to fight many doubters, many small-minded, narrow-minded, personal-electorate politicians in Canberra who didnt give a damn about Australia. Sadly in Canberra there are too few Australian visionaries. We havent got the people who built the Snowy Mountains scheme to open up agriculture in western New South Wales and Victoria. We havent people like Charlie Court, who built a big dam up on the Ord and suffered 20 years of criticism for what has now become a major agricultural project, or the man who pushed for the Burdekin River project in Queensland. There arent those sorts of visionaries around now. They are too busy trying to get an extra child-care centre in their own electorate rather than thinking of developing the whole of this nation and making federation mean something beyond pork-barrelling your own particular electorate. This is a project for Australia that will start to open up the undeveloped part of this country where great wealth potential lies - our north and northwest. This railway line is far more than just a couple of strips of steel and a few jobs for a couple of years. Its about the long-term economic security and development of the whole of the Northern Tenitory and northern Australia and achieving the real potential of this nation. Its fantastic to be here, still in this House, when this project is under way, to see it occur and to see the emergence of the potential that can flow from that development. I congratulate the government for its perseverance and dedication against ridicule over the 16 years of this project. And that includes from members opposite. I was talking to a teacher from Nightcliff Primary School only last weekend. She said she felt so sad, when they heard the railway was going ahead, that all the pro-Labor people in the staff room kept saying: Ill believe it when I see it. That has been the response far too often. Instead of getting behind something and having a go, its: How can we nitpick at this? How can we win a few political cheap points? Our ambition is not to develop the Territory. Our only ambition is to cross over to the other side of the parliament. Its sad day for Australia and for the Territory, this persistent attitude. Earlier the member for MacDonnell was discussing the Frances Bay safe mooring facility. Its one of many examples. I had a little involvement in the development of that. I remember going to the 1984 general election. The 4764

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