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Friday, 4 November 1938

Mr Price e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that when the State of South Australia entered into an agreement to surrender the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth an agreement was reached between the two governments for the construction of a railway line from Oodnadatta to Darwin?

2.   Is it a fact that the Commonwealth has honoured part of the agreement by constructing a line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and from Darwin to Birdum?

3.   Is it a fact that there is approximately 580 miles of railway track to be laid between Birdum and Alice Springs?

4.   What quantity of railway construction material is at Birdum and other places available for railway construction extensions?

5.   If the Government cannot find the whole of the money to complete the remaining 580- miles gap, will it at least extend the line from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek?

6.   Will the Government take an early opportunity to inform the House of its proposal? in connexion with the existing agreement with the State of South Australia, and in regard to the future development of the Northern Territory?

Mr McEwen - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1   . The agreement for the surrender and acceptance of the Northern Territory entered into between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia on the 7th December, 1907, which was ratified and approved by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910. provides - " The Commonwealth in consideration of the surrender of the Northern Territory and property of the State therein and the grant of the rights hereinafter mentioned to acquire and to construct railways in South Australia shall

(b)   Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with the railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as the Transcontinental Railway)."

2.   The Commonwealth has constructed railways between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs and between Pine Creek and Birdum.

3.   The gap between Alice Springs and Birdum is approximately 647 miles.

4.   Sufficient material is available for approximately 43 miles of lino.

5.   The Government has no intention atthe present time of extending the line to Tennant Creek.

6.   When the Northern Territory estimates are before Parliament a statement of the Government's policy regarding the Northern Territory will be made.

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