Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 around this time of the year right through until January in Alice Springs. That will allow the Northern Territory grape industry to comer the market for a much greater extension of the season. When we hear ministers describing the physical infrastructure that will be developed, such as getting ballast for the railway line, a couple of sites are within Alice Springs, or within cooee of Alice Springs. One is just 70 km north of Alice Springs, the other 285 km north. That is essentially an Alice Springs project. The transport industry within Alice Springs will be servicing those 2 sites getting the ballast for the railway line. I hope that we do not look at a bypass for Alice Springs. God forbid that that should happen. Reading through some material previously, there were some studies conducted in the United States about railway lines bypassing regional centres. That can potentially cause a significant downturn in that centre because the railway line disappears, and industries that require the railway line will no longer wish to be there because there is no longer a railway line. So, lets hope that we do not look at that. At present I understand that they are looking at one train per day. Now, even if the train was as long as 1.6 km, I am advised that it would take something like 11 minutes to pass any single road crossing in Alice Springs. That, to me, is not unduly difficult. I recall reading an article where the St John Ambulance people were quoted as saying that this is too long for them to wait if there were an emergency. I actually took time out to look at that particular issue. There are 3 road crossings in Alice Springs - one at Bradshaw Drive, the other in the middle of Bloomfield Street near Treager Avenue, and the third is at Larapinta Drive. The distance between the Bradshaw crossing and Larapinta Drive is over 2kms. So in other words, the 1.6km freight train would only cross over 2 rail crossings at any one time. In other words, an ambulance or anyone who chooses to drive around the train can get past without any difficulty, and if a St Johns ambulance were to be caught at the Larapinta crossing, it could just as easily do a U- tum go around to the Bradshaw Drive crossing and get to the hospital without much loss of time. That is something that I posed to St Johns ambulance officers. They advised me that they are going to try that themselves to find out how much time they would lose by doing that particular loop. When the transport industry talks about loss of employment within their particular industry, I remind them that back around 1986, and probably 10 years before that, there was a significant change in the transport industry in Alice Springs. At that time it was more related to the airline industry rather than the road industry, but even so, if you recall, Connellan Airways was bought out by Ansett and there was a major restructure with huge loss of staff. Following the pilot dispute there was further rationalisation of airline staff. Then with the onset of direct flights into Yulara, direct flights from Adelaide through to Darwin bypassing at Alice Springs, there was again a significant downturn in the local airline transport employment numbers. But Alice Springs did not make much of a song and dance about it because it was very rapidly absorbed through increased employment in other areas. I suggest to you that this is likely to happen once the railway is completed. Again, I say that during the construction phase the transport industry will be so busy they will not have time to consider other issues. I trust that they will use this period of time between now and the construction phase to reorganise their own businesses so that by the time the railway is completed they have a new system ready to be implemented. Otherwise they will be much too late, much too far behind others who will have had the foresight to develop such a program. Alice Springs has been a major regional centre for many, many decades and, even with the completion of the rail, Alice Springs will continue to be a major supply centre for much of central Australia. The population has grown over the last 20 years and theres no reason it will not continue to do so, and then continue to be a major regional centre of supply. I am not going to address any of the physical things that have already been described. That has been addressed by previous speakers. It would just be repeating the same things, but apart from horticulture and the mining thats been talked about, some of the things that have not been mentioned are the projects such as the Garnet Sands at Haasts Bluff, the mineral exploration that has been talked about, and the vermiculite mining at Harts Range also. These are the things surely that many, many business people in central Australia will be concentrating on in the future. There are indeed many opportunities for many businesses in central Australia. I hope they will take this time to prepare for the coming boom. I congratulate Tennant Creek and Katherine in being the main focus of the development in that the start of the railway will be north and south of both of those towns. I was calculating earlier the rate of track building. It was suggested that the track will be built at about 1.6 kilometres per day. If that were 4766
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