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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1382

Senator COLLINS —Senator Panizza asked me a question the other day in relation to national rail infrastructure. I have an answer for Senator Panizza. It is a very long one, so I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard. I have provided Senator Panizza with an advance copy of the answer.

  Leave granted.

  The answer read as follows

The Minister for Transport has provided the following information.

A number of factors have contributed to delays in the One Nation rail infrastructure program.

One of the conditions of the One Nation rail program announced in February 1992 was that firm commitments be obtained from the rail unions to support a "greenfields" enterprise award for National Rail (NR). Negotiations commenced in February 1992 and were completed at the end of July that year, which opened the way for the approval of projects.

The original intention of the One Nation program was that rail authorities would be responsible for project management.

However, by mid 1992 it became apparent that the rail authorities were not in position to do this, and NR assumed carriage of the program, producing an overall program plan, and began to issue timetables, project plans and tender documents.

NR examined all projects to determine that plans, designs and timetables were feasible and warranted. As a result, the scope of a number of projects, such as rail freight access to Sydney, were modified. These necessary changes resulted in delays to project construction.

The Melbourne-Adelaide gauge conversion project was delayed by negotiations with the Victorian Government about the route and scope of the project, and responsibility for costs in respect of branch lines affected by the conversion. Resolution of these issues was not finalised until early 1993.

The 1994/95 Budget estimate for the One National Rail infrastructure program is $127.6 million, which represents the level of under expenditure against the original estimate of expenditure to 30 June 1994, as announced in February 1992.

The delays in planning and design which have affected the rate of expenditure over 1992/93 and 1993/94 also obviously have effected the rate at which jobs have been created.

However with expenditure continuing in 1994/95, the level of direct and indirect jobs created is expected to meet the levels outlined in One Nation.