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Monday, 28 November 2005
Page: 167


Senator O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance and Administration, upon notice, on 6 October 2005:

Is the Minister aware of a proposal to build a memorial to the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Centre on land at Hovell Street, Cootamundra, controlled by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC); if so: (a) when and how did the Minister become aware of the proposal; (b) when and from whom has the Minister or the department received representations in relation to the proposal; (c) what was the nature and the outcome of each representation; (d) if a representation was made in writing, can a copy of the representation be provided; if not, why not; (e) if records of a representation were made, can a copy of such records be provided; if not, why not; (f) what are the dimensions, in square metres, of the piece of land in question; (g) what is: (i) the market value of the land, and (ii) the value as determined by the Valuer General; (h) does ARTC own this land; (i) who are the shareholders of ARTC; (h) (i) what, if any, commercial opportunities are being explored by ARTC in relation to this piece of land, and (ii) when is a final decision expected.


Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

Prior to the honourable Senator’s question I was not aware of the proposal to build a memorial to the children of the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Centre. I became aware of the proposal as a result of the honourable Senator’s question. No representations have been made to me or my Department on this matter.

In regard to the resolution of this matter, I am able to advise the honourable Senator that the Managing Director of ARTC, Mr David Marchant, has advised the Minister for Transport and Regional Services that:

(i)   in discussions with the Cootamundra Shire Council and the Secretary of the Cootamundra Reconciliation Group, ARTC has identified what it believes is a more appropriate location for the Memorial on land it leases to the Council for the Cootamundra Heritage Centre;

(ii)   there is verbal agreement between the parties to the new location; and

(iii)   the ARTC Regional Property Manager at Wagga Wagga will continue to liaise with the parties to progress this matter.

In regard to the honourable senator’s questions on the ownership of ARTC and the Cootamundra land, I am able to advise the honourable Senator that:

(1)   the shares of ARTC are the property of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and I act as the shareholder Ministers for ARTC; and

(ii)   the ARTC controlled land in Cootamundra is leased by ARTC under its sixty year lease of New South Wales Interstate and Hunter Valley rail assets from the State Rail Authority of New South Wales and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation.