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 the historic announcement by the Prime Minister, I received a letter from a Mr Bryan Smyth of Eltham in Victoria. Bom and bred in the Territory, Mr Smyth enclosed a cheque for $500 as a deposit for four first class sleeper tickets on the first train. But his letter was much more than just a booking application. He explained that his father came to the Territory in 1919 to take up a position as mounted constable at Alice Springs. But I will let Mr Smyth tell the story in his own words. Speaking of his father, he wrote: His family, including the writer, endured his interminable fulminations on the subject o f the rail over many years. I am fulfilling a commitment to him to make every endeavour to be on the first train when (if) it should eventuate. The first o f my several journeys on the Ghan was in early 1941 and I also travelled from Birdum to Larrimah under steam during the war, before Leaping Lena met her demise. As a Territorian, bom and bred, and with family in Darwin, may I wish every success to this venture that we have talked and smiled about, and hoped for, for so many years. Mr Speaker, I will be doing all I can to ensure Mr Smyth and his family are on that first train. I am confident that all Territorians, whether they are bom and bred, whether they are long-term or recent arrivals, whether they spent some years here and have now moved on, or even if they just wished they were here, share some of Mr Smyths feelings for the railway. I dont care about the nitpicking that some have indulged in. I dont care about those who say they support the railway, but then trot out the whinges and criticisms. I am just so happy to be one of the lucky ones. I am just happy to be a Territorian when the dream comes true. Mr Speaker, I happily move that the Assembly take note of the statement. Mr STIRLING (Nhulunbuy): Mr Speaker, this side of the House welcomes this statement on the rail. I note that there is further legislation to pass all stages of these sittings that will further facilitate the project. I will be seeking a briefing to get across the detail of that legislation during the week before it comes into the House. The Chief Minister stands in a privileged position on this matter because to him befalls the honour and the glory of announcing the last successful stage of the rail, although of course, much of the hard work has been done by others. The statement stands as testimony to the efforts of one, the former member for Blain, who totally committed himself, and his career in many ways, to this project and brought it to a conclusion after it had sat around on the shelf for quite some years with a minimum effort from government and ministers to push it along. It was his single-minded commitment and determination and effort on a quite wide range of different aspects of the project, including the difficult but successful negotiation of the rail corridor, that sees the Chief Minister standing here today delivering this statement. The Chief Minister has outlined again the respective governments contributions, $165m from the federal government and the Northern Territory government, and $150m from South Australia towards the $ 1230m project. But he has not mentioned in his statement today any taxation implications in the funding arrangements, so we can only assume, on this side of the House at least, that these arguments are behind us. Previously we know that the Australian Taxation Office was looking to draw back a significant proportion of the funding that was on the table in order to satisfy taxation requirements. I would still like to hear clarification from the Chief Minister on that matter so that it is clear to one and all that there are no taxation implications stemming from the 2 lots of $165m and the $150m. I wish to hear that all of those taxation requirements have been overcome, and how they have been overcome, because it did seem to be a real difficulty for Treasurer Costello and the ATO over the last 12 or 18 months. Over the last few weeks it has become clear that the construction will emanate from Tennant Creek and Katherine. There have been concerns from Alice Springs over the impact of the railway on jobs, the physical impact on the town itself, and the number of jobs that people in the Alice might expect to see from the project. Mayor Andy McNeill was at the forefront of these concerns discussed on ABC Radio quite recently. There is an outstanding concern in Alice that there is an urgent need for a full socioeconomic impact study on the town. It is considered that many jobs will be lost to Alice over the longer term once the rail actually starts. The Chief Minister rightly points to expected job growth in other areas in Alice Springs which would cushion this impact. But I dont blame the people of Alice Springs for their concerns and a study would seem the best way to alleviate the concerns of all of the people. The Chief Minister has not mentioned Territorians throughout the statement at all. When he talks about the 1000 people working directly on the line during construction, there is no mention as to how many of those jobs will be won by Territorians. There is no mention of any job 4742

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