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Official opening of the Core 2000 Conference on Railway Engineering by the Premier, South Australia, 22 May 2000



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Official Opening of the Core 2000 Conference On Railway Engineering

 

Hon John Olsen, Premier, South Australia

 

22 May 2000

 

WELCOME TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA AND THE CONFERENCE ON RAILWAY ENGINEERING 2000; A VERY TIMELY EVENT GIVEN THE MANY EXCITING ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRALIA'S RAIL INDUSTRY BOTH INTERSTATE AND HERE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA.  

 

THE THEME FOR THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE, "RAILWAY TECHNOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY", IS PARTICULARLY APPROPRIATE FOR OUR STATE, WITH CONSTRUCTION OF THE FINAL LINK IN THE ADELAIDE-DARWIN RAIL LINE DUE TO BEGIN LATER THIS YEAR.  

 

I MUST BE VERY HONEST WITH YOU AND SAY THAT IN THE PAST THREE YEARS - THERE HAVE BEEN MANY DAYS WHEN I THOUGHT WE WOULD NEVER GET THIS FAR.  

 

BUT THIS STATE AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY WERE ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED THAT FINALLY WE WOULD GET THE PROJECT ON THE MOVE.  

 

THE ADELAIDE-DARWIN RAILWAY IS THE CULMINATION OF A DREAM WHICH BEGAN ALMOST A CENTURY AGO.  

 

IT WAS ALSO A COMMITMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH WHEN SOUTH AUSTRALIA AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY WERE SEPARATED AS A SINGLE STATE, THAT THE COMMONWEALTH UNDERTOOK TO BUILD THE RAIL LINE.  

 

THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS THERE WAS NO DATE PUT ON IT.  

 

DESPITE THE FACT THAT FORMER PREMIER TOM PLAYFORD TOOK THIS UP WITH THEN PRIME MINISTER SIR ROBERT MENZIES AND THE COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT, IT WAS POINTED OUT THEY HAD NOT RENEGED ON THEIR COMMITMENT, THEY SIMPLY HAD NOT GOT TO IT AT THAT STAGE.  

 

IT IS THE FINAL LINK IN THE NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK, CONNECTING THE ECONOMIC HEARTLAND IN THE SOUTH WITH THE DEVELOPING NORTH OF THE COUNTRY.  

 

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A MONUMENTAL ENGINEERING PROJECT,  

 

THE LIKES OF WHICH WE HAVE NOT SEEN SINCE THE SNOWY RIVER PROJECT 50 YEARS AGO.  

 

IN FACT THE PRIME MINISTER HAS CALLED THE RAIL PROJECT THE 'STEEL SNOWY.'  

 

JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THE ENORMITY OF WHAT IS TO BE BUILT.  

 

THE ADELAIDE-DARWIN RAIL LINE NOT ONLY COMPLETES AUSTRALIA'S NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK LINKING NORTH TO SOUTH.  

 

IT ALSO COMPLETES THE AUSTRALASIA TRADE ROUTE - A SEAMLESS TRANSPORT CORRIDOR BETWEEN MAINLAND AUSTRALIA AND THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION.  

 

ALL THIS AT A TIME WHEN RAIL IS SEEN IN THE PUBLIC'S EYES AS THE PREFERRED MODE OF TRANSPORT FOR MOVING OUR FREIGHT ACROSS THE VAST NATION.  

 

A RECENT POLL HAS SHOWN THAT PEOPLE THROUGHOUT AUSTRALIA - BOTH RURAL AND URBAN - OVERWHELMINGLY WANT THEIR FREIGHT TO BE MOVED ON TRAINS RATHER THAN TRUCKS.  

 

AND SO THEY SHOULD.  

 

WHETHER MOVING GRAIN FROM INLAND SILOS TO PORTS, MINERALS FROM MINES TO PORTS OR POWER STATIONS, OR MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS BETWEEN STATES -  

 

THE EFFECTIVE USE OF RAIL IS INTEGRAL TO THE ONGOING SUCCESS OF A LARGE NUMBER OF AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES.  

 

FROM A TIME NOT THAT MANY YEARS AGO WHEN RAILWAYS' PRIMARY FOCUS WAS ON RUNNING TRAINS, WE NOW HAVE EMERGING COMPANIES WHO REALISE THAT RAIL FORMS A VITAL LINK IN THE OVERALL FREIGHT LOGISTICS CHAIN AND THAT THEY THEREFORE NEED TO BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY.  

 

RAIL TODAY IS A TRANSPORT MODE CAPABLE OF DELIVERING  

 

ONTIME - EVERYTIME - FREIGHT TO CUSTOMERS WHO DEMAND AND DESERVE RELIABLE SERVICES.  

 

IN AN INTERNATIONALLY COMPETITIVE GLOBAL MARKET PLACE WHERE WE EITHER HAVE TIME SENSORS OF GOODS OR JUST-IN-TIME MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS; THAT IS ESSENTIAL, ON TIME - EVERY TIME.  

 

I WON'T DAZZLE YOU WITH TOO MANY FIGURES BUT THIS PROJECT WILL REQUIRE MORE THAN 7,000 RAIL BUILDERS AND MATERIAL SUPPLIERS.  

 

THE 1,410 KM OF LINE WILL BE BUILT AT A RATE OF 1.6 KM PER DAY, USING 155,000 TONNES OF STEEL RAIL AND 2.3 MILLION CONCRETE SLEEPERS.  

 

AS RAIL EXPERTS, YOU DON'T NEED ME TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED IN THE WAY OF GOODS AND SERVICES DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS RAIL LINE - FROM CATERING TO CULVERT CONTRACTS, FROM FUEL SUPPLIES TO BALLASTING.  

 

AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF THE CONTRACT FOR THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER IS THE REQUIREMENT FOR A LOCAL INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION PLAN.  

 

THE PREFERRED BIDDER PROPOSED THAT 70% OF THE GOODS AND SERVICES FOR THE PROJECT BE SOURCED FROM SOUTH AUSTRALIA AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY.  

 

WITH FINANCIAL CLOSE OF THE CONTRACT DUE SOON WE HAVE BEEN WORKING HARD IN PARTNERSHIPS WITH INDUSTRY AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY GOVERNMENT TO ACHIEVE THAT OBJECTIVE.  

 

WE HAVE CREATED A RAIL PARTNERSHIP GROUP - SPONSORED BY THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE SA EMPLOYERS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.  

 

THIS GROUP HAS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ASSISTING INDUSTRY AND REGIONAL COMMUNITIES TO IDENTIFY BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES DURING THE CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF THE PROJECT.  

 

AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS MONTH, 661 SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMPANIES HAD REGISTERED INTEREST IN TENDERING FOR WORK. AND THAT INCLUDES 135 COMPANIES IN THE UPPER SPENCER GULF REGION, WHICH HAS A TRADITION OF IRON, STEEL AND RAIL INDUSTRIES.  

 

IF WE THINK OF THE PROJECT AS A MAJOR TRANSPORT INITIATIVE, RATHER THAN SIMPLY A RAILWAY, WE CAN IDENTIFY MANY BENEFITS FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA.  

 

IT'S A REASON WHY WE ARE CONTRIBUTING $ 150 MILLION DOLLARS TOWARDS THE PROJECT, TO BUILD A RAILWAY LINE IN SOMEBODY ELSE'S STATE OR TERRITORY.  

 

FOR EXAMPLE, A CITY SUCH AS PORT AUGUSTA IS NOT ONLY STRATEGICALLY PLACED TO PLAY A ROLE DURING CONSTRUCTION, IT IS ALSO WELL POSITIONED TO BECOME A MAJOR FREIGHT DISTRIBUTION AND TRANSPORT HUB.  

 

FOR EXAMPLE, THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION IN THE UNITED STATES ESTABLISHED LONG BEACH CALIFORNIA AS A MAJOR FREIGHT CONTAINER TERMINAL.  

 

THAT TRANSPORT HUB SENT CONTAINERS THROUGH TO CHICAGO, AND FROM CHICAGO FANNING OUT ACROSS THE UNITED STATES BY RAIL AND ROAD IN DOUBLE AND SINGLE STACKED TRAINS.  

 

IT CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES THAT THIS ADELAIDE TO DARWIN RAIL LINK HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO OPEN UP SOME TRANSPORT MODES THAT PREVIOUSLY WERE OUT OF OUR REACH.  

 

SIMILARLY, PORT PIRIE CAN BENEFIT FROM TRAINING AND NEW JOBS REQUIRED FOR THE PROJECT AND WHYALLA, WITH BHP, CAN SUPPLY MUCH OF THE 155,000 TONNES OF STEEL REQUIRED DURING CONSTRUCTION.  

 

BEYOND THAT REGION, THE RAILWAY IS EXPECTED TO SUPPORT REGIONAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES ALONG THE RAIL CORRIDOR.  

 

FOR EXAMPLE, WE BELIEVE THERE WILL BE A STIMULUS FOR MINERAL EXPLORATION ACTIVITY AND ALSO FOR OUR RAPIDLY DEVELOPING AQUACULTURE AND AGRICULTURAL SECTORS.  

 

ON WEDNESDAY, FOLLOWING THIS CONFERENCE, THE GOVERNMENT, IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NORTHERN TERRITORY GOVERNMENT, IS HOLDING A "RAIL READY" ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR AND BUSINESS MATCHING PROGRAM.  

 

THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SA AND NT BUSINESSES TO NETWORK, AND EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR JOINT VENTURING ON THE RAIL PROJECT.  

 

IT IS WORTH SAYING HERE THAT THIS RAIL PROJECT, AND THE BUSINESS MATCHING AND CAPABILITY STUDIES WE AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY GOVERNMENT ARE DOING WITH COMPANIES NOW, WILL HAVE TREMENDOUS FUTURE BENEFITS.  

 

IN PARTICULAR, THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR JOINT VENTURING ON SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS SUCH AS TIMOR SEA OIL, AND THE RECONSTRUCTION IN EAST TIMOR.  

 

AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN A RAIL LINE - WE WILL HAVE AN INTEGRATED TRANSPORT SYSTEM USING STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY.  

 

LET ME GIVE YOU A VERY PRACTICAL EXAMPLE OF THE TECHNOLOGY  

 

A COMPANY EXPORTING FRESH OR FROZEN PRODUCT WILL BE ABLE TO MONITOR THEIR CARGO ALONG THE ENTIRE TRANSPORT CHAIN.  

 

YOU CAN IMAGINE WHAT A BONUS THIS WILL BE FOR EXPORTERS BUILDING NEW MARKETS OFF SHORE WHO WANT TO ENSURE THE INTEGRITY AND QUALITY OF THE PRODUCT IS AT THE MAXIMUM.  

 

THE ADELAIDE-DARWIN RAILWAY WILL CONNECT THE NEW DEEP WATER PORT OF DARWIN TO THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK, OFFERING SAVINGS IN LANDBRIDGED TRANSIT TIME FOR AUSTRALIA'S ENGAGEMENT IN TRADE WITH ASIA.  

 

LET ME GIVE YOU A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE.  

 

AT THE MOMENT WE EXPORT PORK OUT OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA. BECAUSE OF THE SALE IN TIME TO THE MARKETS IT HAS TO BE FROZEN PORK.  

 

WITH THE RAIL LINE AND LANDBRIDGING, WE WILL BE ABLE TO SELL CHILLED PORK INTO THE MARKET WITH THE BENEFITS OF  

 

$1.50 EXTRA PER KILOGRAM FOR THE PRODUCERS.  

 

WE EXPECT THAT THE TIME SAVINGS WILL BE UP TO 50% OF CURRENT AVERAGE FREIGHT TIMES OUT OF ADELAIDE TO KEY ASIAN MARKETS.  

 

THIS STATE HAS A FOOD PLAN - A BROAD STRATEGY TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF OUR FOOD INDUSTRY TO $15 BILLION BY 2010.  

 

EXPORTS, AND FREIGHT LOGISTICS ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS IN ACHIEVING THIS GOAL, AND THE ADELAIDE-DARWIN RAIL LINK WILL SOLVE SOME REAL PROBLEMS.  

 

I CAN TELL YOU THE STORY OF THE ONION EXPORTER WHO WANTED THE FREIGHT FORWARDER TO ARRANGE FOR 30 SLOTS ON EVERY SHIP LEAVING THE PORT OF ADELAIDE OVER A FOUR-MONTH PERIOD.  

 

IT COULD NOT BE DONE. ONLY FIVE SLOTS WERE AVAILABLE AND THE FREIGHT FORWARDER HAD TO LOOK FOR OTHER OPTIONS TO EXPORT OUT OF OTHER PORTS AROUND AUSTRALIA - THUS ERODING THE EXPORTER'S PROFIT MARGIN.  

 

THE LAST COUNT WAS SOME 85% OF GOODS GOING THROUGH THE EXPORT MARKET; EXITING OUT OF THE EASTERN SEABOARD WITH ADDITIONAL COSTS ON SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PRODUCERS.  

 

IF WE WANT TO, AS WE ARE INTENT ON ACHIEVING WITH OUR EXPORT PLAN FOR OUR FOOD INDUSTRY, WE HAVE TO GET OUR TIME SENSITIVE GOODS AND OTHER PRODUCTS OUT TO THE MARKET ON A RELIABLE BASIS WITH QUALITY, STANDARD, AND PRICE.  

 

WE CAN THEN ACCESS THAT MARKET AND SECURE THE MARKET FOR IT TO CONTINUE TO GROW.  

 

THAT IS WHERE THE ADELAIDE DARWIN RAIL LINK WILL PROVIDE SOME IMPETUS. IT IS WHY WE HAVE MADE A SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL COMMITMENT TO THE RAILWAY LINE.  

 

THE ADELAIDE DARWIN RAILWAY WILL OFFER A SIGNIFICANT ALTERNATIVE FOR EXPORTERS, IN THE FACE OF CURRENT FREIGHT LIMITATIONS.  

 

THE TIME SAVINGS FOR A SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMPANY INVOLVED IN LANDBRIDGING COULD BE UP TO:

  • 3 DAYS ON PRODUCTS SHIPPED TO SINGAPORE
  • 11 DAYS ON GOODS GOING TO TOKYO
  • AND UP TO 18 DAYS SAVED ON GOODS GOING TO MANILA.

YOU DON'T NEED ME TO SPELL OUT THE BENEFITS FOR EXPORTERS OF TIME SENSITIVE GOODS DESTINED FOR THESE MARKETS.  

 

THERE IS ONE OTHER B
ENEFIT - AND THIS ONE IS FOR ALL AUSTRALIANS, AND THAT IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT.  

 

CARRYING FREIGHT VIA RAIL WILL SAVE 40 MILLION LITRES OF FUEL ANNUALLY, AND REDUCE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS BY 100,000 TONNES ANNUALLY, OVER THE FIRST 50 YEARS OF OPERATION.  

 

I THINK YOU WILL APPRECIATE NOW THAT AS PARTNERS IN THIS VISIONARY NATIONAL RAIL PROJECT, WE ARE ENTHUSIASTIC, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2003.  

 

AND I HAVE NOT VENTURED INTO THE AREA SUCH AS THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA AND WHAT THE RAIL LINK CAN DO.  

 

PARTICULARLY, FOR PEOPLE COMING FROM EUROPE TO SINGAPORE TO DARWIN, CAN TRAVEL DOWN THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF AUSTRALIA, SO THEY HAVE AN OPTION OTHER THAN THE BRIDGE, THE REEF AND THE ROCK.  

 

THEY CAN DO IT THE OTHER WAY. THEY CAN GO TO THE ROCK THEN GO AROUND TO THE BRIDGE AND THE REEF.  

 

WE IN A COMMITTED, DETERMINED WAY WANT TO SEE THIS NOW PUSH AHEAD AND WHAT WE WILL HAVE IS:

  • A TRANSPORT CORRIDOR LINKING ALL MAINLAND CAPITALS;
  • A NEW HUB PORT FOR AUSTRALIA'S NORTHERN COAST;
  • AN INTEGRATED EXPORT / IM PORT TRANSPORT ROUTE INTO SOUTH-EAST ASIA AND BEYOND;
  • AND GREAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR A RANGE OF INDUSTRIES AND BUSINESSES WHO HAVE THE COMMITMENT TO "GET ABOARD THE RAIL PROJECT", DURING CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR IN VITATION TO BE HERE TODAY.  

 

THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING TIME IN THE HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA'S RAIL INDUSTRY AND I WISH YOU EVERY SUCCESS WITH YOUR CONFERENCE ON RAILWAY ENGINEERING.  

 

I HAVE MUCH PLEASURE IN OFFICIALLY OPENING THE CORE 2000 CONFERENCE.  

THANK YOU.