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




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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 distances. The road transport industry has asked me whether the NT government will be subsidising the railway operations. The government will not do this. Our approach has always been to facilitate the project with financial and other assistance, but to leave the construction and operational risk to the private sector. There will be no operating subsidy. The intention is to maintain a strong, innovative and competitive road transport industry. It is an industry that has served the Territory very well and will continue to do so. The railway will add to the competitive environment, and this can only be to the benefit of the Territory economy as a whole. Reduced transport costs for agriculture will enable Territory producers to be more competitive in the southern markets. But it will also mean items such as fertiliser will cost less, enabling Territory producers to increase productivity and quality. It will also increase the range of commodities that may be grown commercially in the Territory. For mining, the railway should lower production costs. There could be a lowering of the cut off grade for mineral deposits and therefore an increase in the recoverable reserves. It may mean a reduction in the size of the mineral deposit needed to support mine development and therefore increase mineral exploration along the route of the railway. With regard to tourism, I was pleased to read the recent press reports that the AsiaPacific Transport Corporation intends to negotiate passenger train access with the operators of the Ghan. With a passenger train service from Sydney through Melbourne and Adelaide, up to Alice Springs and on to Darwin, this will surely become one of the great train journeys of the world. The proposal promises a boost to the number of tourists to the Territory. It will attract potential tourists who cannot or are reluctant to travel long distance by car or coach and those romantics the world over who are in love with trains. At present the Ghan operates two services per week to Alice Springs and in 1998/99 carried 46 000 passengers to the Alice at an average 210 per train. Extending the service to Darwin should boost Territory tourist numbers for all regional centres. For Katherine and Tennant Creek, the opportunities are there to become trans shipment centres for goods from Western Australia and particularly the Ord River Scheme for Katherine, and goods to and from Queensland. For some businesses, the operation of the railway will bring a change in the focus of their operations, or cause them to move into new areas. An operational railway will lead to a reduction in freight trans-shipment activity at the Alice Springs railhead. There will also be a reduction in road freight activity along the Stuart Highway. Neither will cease, but long and/or large amounts of haul goods will likely be transported by the railway. Nevertheless, the future over the next three years for road transport out of Alice Springs will be very buoyant, providing time for future plans for the new competitive era to be put in place. A survey of businesses in Alice Springs showed that approximately 70 jobs may be at risk - this is less than 1% of the Alice Springs workforce. However, this is partially offset by an initial increase of about 20 jobs in rail operational and associated jobs. As the train services grow, this number should also rise, and in the longer term additional jobs should be generated by new and expanded business opportunities. For the smaller businesses and townships along the Stuart Highway, many can expect increased business as construction crews are located nearby. Mr Speaker, let me tum now to the group that is about to make the long-held dream of Territorians come true. The strength and depth of the AsiaPacific Transport Consortium is a crucial factor in all of this. Let me tell you a little about those involved. I speak first of Brown & Root/Kinhill. Brown & Root Construction and Engineering and Kinhill (purchased by Brown & Root in 1997) are subsidiaries of Halliburton. Halliburton is a Fortune 500 company, a world leader in engineering and construction, with particular interests in the infrastructure and resources sectors. Through Brown & Root and Kinhill, it provides railway and port design and engineering expertise. Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries in late 1998 and created the worlds largest oilfield services company. I expect that Halliburton involvement in the rail project will have spin off benefits for the Territory economy, encouraging that global company to invest in offshore supply services to the Timor Sea oil and gas province. It has a workforce of 120 000 employed in 120 countries world wide. Genesee & Wyoming are a major regional US rail operator. Its Australian operations are based in Adelaide and they have extensive experience in operating and maintaining regional railways. They acquired mainland freight-related assets and contracts of Australian National Railways in November 1997, operating 1200km of railway within South Australia with 90 locomotives and 1200 freight wagons. Barclay Mowlem is a major engineering and construction company who has experience in delivering railways and rail manufacturing projects and it is known for its commitment to developing 4740