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 that 4 year period and by $3 billion, thats $3000m for those economic illiterates, over 25 years. Costs across the board in the Territory fall by around .2%. Competitiveness for Territory suppliers is improved, exports increase, and there is also some increase in production for the local market. Net present value of private consumption increases by $1200m over 25 years, employment rises by 1100 jobs in 2001 increasing to an additional 5200 jobs 15 years later. In 20 years time, expressed in 1996-97 dollars, Territory annual exports will be up by SlOOm. Our population will increase by about 6300, directly attributable to this one project. These are big figures; they are huge. They demonstrate just what this railway project means to the Territory, what it means to South Australia, and what it means to the nation. The project began as a mention in the South Australian Colonial Parliament in 1858. In what is a significant similarity to todays project, the South Australian government received the proposal from private enterprise, an entrepreneur on behalf of a London syndicate, to build the railway. For most of the railways history it was the intention for private enterprise to construct the line. Since 1858, there have been numerous government inquiries, numerous private sector proposals, and a large number of election promises. Even the Americans offered to build the railway during World War II. None of these projects have proven as fruitful as the arrangements we have today. What has been there from the beginning is a belief in the railway as a trade link with Asia. It is a line that will herald the growth of trade, rather than relying only on that which exists now. It is an adventurous project, vital to the Territorys future. The NT government has been committed to completing the railway to Darwin since the inception of self-government. It has fought hard for its realisation. The Hill Inquiry in 1983 proved a dampener to our efforts. Reports after that time, commissioned by the NT government in an attempt to attract private-sector finance, indicated that the case for the railway was not nearly as bleak as that indicated by Hill. In fact, Mr Hills future is the one thats proved to be bleak. The NT government pledged SlOOm to the project and South Australia followed suit in 1994. However, it was the 1995 comments of the Committee on Darwin, or the Wran committee, that re-ignited substantial interest. Wran stated: The committees final judgment on the rail is not if but when. On the basis of that report, further reports were commissioned based on the assumptions of the Wran Committee. They demonstrated that the triggers for positive freight indicators were present in the Territory and Australian economy already, and that the railway was economically viable. Its benefit to cost ratio is estimated at 1.27. That means that for every dollar invested the project would return around $1.27 to the Australian community. In the mid-1990s the Daewoo Corporation represented a strong private enterprise interest that was rekindled in the project. Whilst no arrangement could be reached at that time, discussions during this time in the establishment of the NT Railway Executive Group acted as the precursor to the establishment of the AustralAsia Railway Corporation in the current project. It was also at this time that an inter-govemmental agreement between the Northern Territory government and the South Australian government was negotiated confirming the $200m pledge to contribute to the construction of the railway. The AustralAsia Railway Corporation was formed in 1997 representing an independent body to manage the project on behalf of the NT and SA governments. The Commonwealth was to provide SlOOm towards the project, and a nominal lease arrangement for the Tarcoola to Alice Springs line came with the corporations foundation. Since that time the corporation has been busy managing the complex arrangements and negotiations that are required to ensure this project proceeds. The first task for the corporation and stage 1 of the process was calling for expressions of interest from companies or consortia to take on the project as a build, own, operate and transfer back or boot arrangement. Those expressions of interest closed in December 1997. Over 30 expressions were received representing over 60 national and international companies. The corporation evaluated these and 3 consortia were short-listed in April 1998 to prepare detailed bids during stage 2. Commencement of stage 2 was dependent on confirmation of secure land tenure arrangements across Aboriginal land. Issues of land tenure in seeming the rail corridor was one of the matters of greatest complexity to face the NT government, and its appropriate at this point to mention the role of the former member for Blain and his hard work over many years in securing that commitment. The majority of that 1410 km route was situated either on Aboriginal land or was of Aboriginal interest. Over 50 Aboriginal groups are represented along the route. Final agreement with the Northern 4770

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