Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4867 criticism. In relation to some work I did in Singapore, I had a conversation with the Minister for Primary Industry yesterday, and I thank him for it; he was enthusiastic about possibilities there potentially involving our horticultural industry. I thank him for what I consider to be a genuine interest and enthusiasm. With luck, your office would have received an e-mail I sent to the person about whom we were talking. I am happy to assist, as I should, in any way I can to provide this government with information the opposition gathers and that comes to us to improve the governments performance, improve opportunities and improve possibilities. The progress that has been made over a period of time in growing the AustralAsia Trade Route has been impressive, as it should be. It if was not, all of us should be ashamed of ourselves. We are naturally well placed. I do say that the Chief Minister, while not perfect, is doing a reasonable job. I am very pleased, as I said, that she is cultivating relationships at the personal level, government level, departmental level, because that is critical. I know that the CLP was criticised a lot when ministers kept travelling overseas, and senior public servants were with them invariably, but also senior public servants, from memory, as the Chief Minister has indicated, did trips by themselves, as they should. You cannot foster those sort of relationships and do the sort of work, much of which the Chief Minister has, in fact, been doing, by just picking up the phone. You have to get on a plane. You have to talk to local business representatives. We have to ask them how they can be assisted. We need to take them into the region. We need to have all of the key players sitting around tables asking how they can make it better. It is pleasing that the Chief Minister has done some of that. I believe she took people to Vietnam, and I recall that she did so on one of her relatively recent trips to China. That is to be commended. That is what a Chief Minister of the Northern Territory should be doing. With those comments - I did cut a bit out of the speech I prepared, Chief Minister - despite our differences, please accept our assurance that we support your efforts in the region, and we thank you for bringing on this statement. It is a good statement, mostly, and I am pleased that you went into the detail that you did. I look forward to commenting on the next statement with a view to hearing about other progress and successes in the region. Ms LAWRIE (Infrastructure and Transport): Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the Chief Ministers statement on the AustralAsia Trade Route. An important link in the trade route is, of course, the Port of Darwin. It is strategically positioned at the Top End of the Northern Territory, where it is Australias closest port to the Asian region, and is Australias northern gateway port. The completion of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway provides importers and exporters with a seamless transport system between Australia and Asia. I will talk in detail about the recent achievements of our port and rail later in this response. To begin with, though, it is important that, as the minister for Transport, I focus on the very significant contribution that the trucking industry makes to the Northern Territory economy. The NT trucking sector has made some giant strides since World War II when early truckers purchased surplus military vehicles and, with innovation and risk, applied them to the task of supplying remote Australian towns, cattle stations, indigenous communities and mines. With Alice Springs firmly established as a railhead since 1929, trucks, trains and ships worked in harmony for many years to satisfy the freight task. All this provided jobs and a financial flow-on effect for the fledgling NT economy. Today, the effective combination of trains, trucks and ships continue to build upon our growing reputation as a significant trading hub to Asia. The Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Service has released a report titled The Great Freight Task. The report, released earlier this year, noted that the road transport sector employed nearly half of all the people employed in the transport and logistics sector in Australia - 215 000, and that transport and logistics is a major contributor to Australias GDP. The trucking industry continues to be the backbone of our transport of goods for interstate and international trade. Whether it is bringing produce to our port, transferring goods interstate, or providing essential resources to remote towns and industries, the Territory has, for a long time, been dependant on the hard-working men and women in our trucking industry. The resources boom has paid great dividends for the Territory and, as the member for Drysdale informed the House yesterday, we continue to attract great interest from the mining industry. Mining is a significant contributor to the Territory economy, grossing an annual $2.3bn that contributes 20% of the gross state product. Without this governments strong investment in regional roads and the dedication of transport companies, some of these mining operations could not operate. Working cooperatively on public and private sector infrastructure development is of critical importance. I will continue to support the trucking industry as I recognise the significant challenges they face, including healthy competition from the rail, steadily
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