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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2317

(Question No. 743)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 28 March 1984:

(1) What are anticipated costs of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line.

(2) What number of jobs will be involved in the construction of this line and what will be their duration.

(3) How much is the Federal Government together with State Government and local authorities contributing to employment creation programs in this financial year.

(4) How many jobs have been created under such schemes and what is their duration.

(5) What would be the cost to revenue of providing work for one person for one week under the proposal to build the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line and what would be the costs of the same under the employment creation projects.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Independent Economic Inquiry into Transport Services to the Northern Territory found that total construction costs for a nine-year construction period beginning in July 1984, based on June 1983 prices, would be around $578m. To bring the line into operation would require further initial expenditure of $ 76m for rolling stock and other equipment.

(2) The above-mentioned inquiry estimated that up to 1,000 people would be employed each year during construction on site and in supply industries.

(3) I am advised that under the wage pause program the Commonwealth is contributing $200m in respect of projects approved in the 1983 calendar year. The interim report on the wage pause program by the Bureau of Labour Market Research indicates that, in addition to the Commonwealth provision of $200m for the program, project funding has been provided by State governments or sought from project sponsors. At the time of the report, $186m of Commonwealth funds were accounted for with projects approved to the value of nearly $234.6m. The sources of the additional $48.4m were State/Territory governments ($12.8m) and sponsors including local government and community groups ($35.4m). Overall, the Commonwealth's contribution represents 79.3 per cent of total projects budgets.

Under the community employment program (CEP), $300m has been allocated in 1983- 84. The CEP guidelines provide for 30 per cent or more of project costs to be contributed by the project sponsor. To 27 April 1984 the Commonwealth has committed $403.9m toward approved projects under CEP. An additional $123m will be contributed by State/Territory governments and local government authorities.

(4) Under the wage pause program 21,732 jobs have been created with an average duration of 24.7 weeks. Under the CEP, in respect of all approved projects to 27 April 1984, 37,723 jobs have been approved with an average duration of 26 weeks.

(5) The theoretical cost to revenue of providing work for one person for one week on the construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line based on the answers to questions (1) and (2), would be $1,235 at June 1983 prices. The cost per person per week to the Commonwealth for these CEP and wage pause jobs is estimated at $385.