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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1931


Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Did the Minister see an article which appeared in the 'Australian Financial Review' recently, claiming that about $25m worth of new motor vehicles had not been delivered, chiefly because of a shortage of rail wagons? Since most of the large motor vehicle firms are involved, can the Minister advise whether the Minister he represents is concerned at the apparent state of affairs and whether the Government is doing anything to overcome the shortage of rail wagons?


Senator CAVANAGH -The Minister for Transport is aware of the shortage of rail wagons for the shifting of vehicles. In the main the article in the 'Australian Financial Review' was true. Of course the Government is vitally concerned. It estimates that there is a shortage of some 3,200 rail wagons in Australia. As will be remembered, the Prime Minister in his 1972 Policy Speech offered to accept the responsibility for State railways. As a result discussions are now progressing very satisfactorily with both South Australia and New South Wales, but Western Australia has broken off negotiations on the question of the Commonwealth taking over railways. Victoria and Queensland have refused even to discuss the transfer. Of course, Queensland consistently refuses to discuss anything with the Commonwealth.

The availability of wagons is limited by the poor turn around of vehicles at terminals, in particular at the Brisbane terminal. It affects all Australian systems and is therefore of national importance. The problem on the Brisbane line could be solved by the building of a new terminal at Acacia Ridge. Because the Queensland and New South Wales Governments have indicated that they will not take part in the scheme, which would be of national importance, and are not prepared to finance it, the Australian Government has offered to build a terminal at Acacia Ridge and meet the whole cost if the Queensland Government will make the land available. This would be of great assistance to the movement of cars within Australia and to rail transport generally. So far we have failed to receive co-operation from the Queensland Government on this aspect.







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