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 railway project, but they never once delivered and never once really made any inroads to ensure that this project was delivered. The other great lie was Kim Beazley promising $300m for this project. The simple facts need to be reminded. Kim Beazley in his 1998 election policy said that he would provide SlOOm and match that being provided by the Prime Minister John Howard. He then couched his words extremely carefully after that point. He said that after 2001-2002 Labor would provide additional funding of up to a total of $300m if such funding was required. He was saying to Territorians in 1998 that if he was elected he would match Prime Minister John Howards SlOOm. Then in 3 years time if he was re-elected, he would look at giving another $200m but only if it was needed and, of course, only if he was re elected to government. As I have said, there is no consortium that could depend on those kind of utterances or assurances from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Beazley. The simple fact of the matter is that they only ever promised SlOOm in opposition. In all of the time that they were in government they never once put their money where their mouths were. In fact, they did more than anything to sink this project. It has been the Prime Minister John Howard who has helped deliver this project for the Northern Territory and Australia, and he should be applauded for that particular effort after only 4 years in government. I was going to say something about the statistics that the Leader of the Opposition runs. Its really a waste of time. You can do anything you like with statistics. Its a farcical argument to suggest that Territorians are paying $898 per head, or whatever the figure is, compared to Australians kicking in $9 per head - and therefore somehow weve been dudded in this particular deal. You can spin that figure the other way, if you like. You can talk about the benefit on a per capita basis of the railway to the Northern Territory. Therefore a $1230m project on a per capita basis delivers something like 7.5 times the benefit of investment per capita to Territorians as opposed to 7 times the benefit to Australians generally. That is a stupid statistical line to run. But just as stupid is the argument that the Leader of the Opposition is trying to run. If you want to be even more farcical, add in the GSP over 25 years on a per capita basis to Territorians. The benefit to Territorians becomes even more strong than it is on those initial figures. My point is that the issue of statistics is a poor argument. But, if you set out to simply be negative about this project, those are the sorts of spurious lines you will continue to run. The lie is that the Labor Party say out of the other side of their mouth that they support the project and have always supported the project. For $165m the Territory will get a $ 1230m capital works project with outlays averaging around $400m a year, the majority of which will be spent in the Territory, and this arrangement represents outstanding value for Territorians. Both the corporations financial adviser, Deutsche Bank and the consortiums financial adviser, Macquarie Bank, have expressed - confidence in the ability of the market to finance the project on the basis of these arrangements. The claims of linking the railway with the port expenditure are a bit spurious as well. The port investment has always been essential for the economic development of the Territory. None of this is new to Territorians and the simple fact is that the $100m stage 1 investment has been under way since 1994, some 5 years ago. Investment in the port is fundamental to the governments strategy of making Darwin a transport and logistics hub as outlined in the hub strategy in 1996, some 3 years ago. Any additional work at the port related to rail demand will be staged to match demand, with arrangements to be negotiated on commercial terms. Mention has also been made of the governments acquisitions for the rail corridor. Once again, this matter is not one that has recently come to the notice of Teiritorians. That information has been in the public arena for a number of years now. While land has been acquired on an opportunity basis for many years, acquisition commenced in earnest in 1996 - over 3 years ago. Land acquisition by the public sector for major projects is an acceptable part of the now well-established risk management arrangements where the public and private sector invest or enter into arrangements for the provision of publicly accessible infrastructure. The Territory is getting on with the job of making the project happen. Rather than deal in promises the Territory has been instrumental in putting in place a major infrastructure project of more than $ 1000m, with much of the economic benefit flowing from this project to Territorians. The distribution of jobs throughout the construction program will be as follows. Permanent camps for the 3 year construction period will be located in Katherine and Tennant Creek, each with just under 100 personnel. The northern-based camps north of Newcastle Waters will have about 300 personnel operating, as I said earlier, on a moving, rolling program. A southern-based camp south of Newcastle Waters will have just under 500 personnel and will operate on a moving, rolling program. Major job categories include: skilled and general plant operators - 250 personnel of which 80 to 100 will be engaged in training; skilled and general labour - 120 personnel 4772
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