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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - I rise to support the Bill concerning the railway line from Port Augusta to Whyalla. In so doing I would like to remind honourable members of the tremendous amount of work that the previous honourable member for Grey, Mr Jessop, put into this project. I should also like to bring before the House the fact that he did a lot of work with me concerning the Port Augusta to Alice Springs railway link, which has just been mentioned by the new honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis). I understand that he recommends that it should go from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, along the route which the present road takes. That is a thoroughly recommended route for a railway line, as it goes along high ground. I reject the remarks of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who criticised the fact that the Australian Government had not built all the railway lines mentioned in an agreement of many years ago. I point out that the North Australian Railway line, which was rehabilitated in the last 2 years, carried little or no freight until the Government put in a loading facility for iron ore at the port of Darwin. The iron ore traffic then came on to that line. The Government upgraded the railway line to the extent of $2m. That line is now working efficiently.

I thank the honourable member for Newcastle for his support of the Port AugustaAlice Springs link, because this is a vital link for produce and also for defence. A Government committee is at present considering the transport situation between Alice Springs and the south, including the road and the railway. I think that probably the railway will win. If we have a railway, we can get the road later. I live in this area and see the transport difficulties which are evident. Only last week traffic on the Marree to Alice Springs railway line was delayed by a washaway by the flat country alongside Lake Eyre. This is liable to happen at any time when there is a little above average rainfall.

I commend the Government for cmbarking on the Port Augusta to Whyalla railway. I do not want to detract from anything that my colleague in the next electorate, the honourable member for Grey, or the honourable member for for Borthly (Mr McLeay) have said, but I urge the Government to go ahead as soon as possible with the Tarcoola-Alice Springs link as it is vital not only to the development of central Australia but also to the security of northern Australia.

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