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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2410

Senator COLSTON —My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government relates to the tourist industry in the national capital, which depends not only on air and road transport but also on rail. Could the Minister advise what progress has been made in implementing the Government's tourism policy with respect to the upgrading of rail services to the Australian Capital Territory?

Senator GIETZELT —The question of tourism is a very important matter for the Australian Capital Territory and is one that has been very much activated since this Government came to power. Rail services to and from Canberra have been a matter of continuing concern to the Government. We do not necessarily have to look at tourism only from the point of view of aircraft. The Australian Labor Party's tourism policy clearly expresses the view that there should be an upgrading of rail services into the Australian Capital Territory. To that extent consultations have begun with the New South Wales Government.

I understand that on 17 January this year the Prime Minister wrote to the New South Wales Premier proposing negotiations between the Commonwealth and State Ministers-that is, between Mr Uren who is the Minister for Local Government and Territories, Mr Morris and the relevant Minister in New South Wales, who at that stage was Mr Cox-with a view to improving the rail services. Of course there has been an election in New South Wales since then and Mr Unsworth is now the Minister for Transport.

Negotiations in this matter have had to be recommenced as a result of the change in the ministerial position in New South Wales. These negotiations will encompass both the possible transfer of the Australian Capital Territory railway to the State Rail Authority of New South Wales and measures to ensure adequate rail services to Canberra. Depending upon the recommencement of those negotiations it is the Commonwealth Government's hope that there will be an improvement in the rail services in and out of Canberra.