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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1571

(Question No. 1592)


Mr Andrew asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 7 June 1984:

(1) With respect to the Independent Economic Inquiry into Transport Services to the Northern Territory, dated February 1984, will he provide an addendum to the report to specify which particular paragraphs in the report support the assertions, findings and conclusions in Chapter 1 of the report.

(2) Did the report consider present and future freight and passenger traffic through the airport and seaport of Darwin, both incoming and outgoing; if not, why not.

(3) What Commonwealth expenditure was (a) incurred, or (b) is estimated to be incurred, in each of the years 1982-83 to 1987-88 on (i) airports in Australia, (ii) carriage of freight by sea to and from Darwin (iii) sea terminals in Australia.

(4) Which, if any, of the Commonwealth expenditures referred to in (3) above also attracted or will attract financial contributions by the States or the Territories and if there were, or are to be, any such State or Territory contributions, what are the details.

(5) What were the costs and benefits of the Alice Springs-Darwin railway as put forward by (a) the Chief of the Defence Force Staff, (b) the Secretary of the Department of Defence, (c) the Chief of the Naval Staff, (d) the Chief of the General Staff and (e) the Chief of the Air Staff.


Mr Peter Morris —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) No. Chapter 1 of the Inquiry's report summarises for the convenience of readers the findings and conclusions explained in more detail elsewhere in the report.

(2) Yes. The Inquiry took into account current and potential air and sea passenger and freight traffic which could be transported by the railway and road proposals under consideration. It also examined the concept of a landbridge involving the possible export and import of goods through Darwin with transport to and from the southern States by rail.

(3) (i) (a) and (b) I am advised by the Department of Aviation that the costs associated with the provision of aviation infrastructure and services are as set out below. Costs have been provided on a total system basis because of the difficulties inherent in defining and isolating specific airport costs.

Ongoing costs

attributable to Capital

the provision outlays on

of Aviation currently

Infrastructure approved

and Services works*

($m) ($m) 1982-83 408.6 156.1 1983-84 (est.) 440.8 124.1 1984-85 (est.) 476.8 157.1 1985-86 (est.) n.a. 239.8 1986-87 (est.) n.a. 150.2 1987-88 (est.)

and beyond n.a. 35.5

*Comprises expenditures on approved Civil Works, Technical Capital Works, and Aerodrome Local Ownership Plan (ALOP) Development Grants.

(3) (ii) (a) and (b) Expenditure by the Commonwealth in the form of subsidy to the Australian Shipping Commission for losses incurred on the operation of a vessel from the East Coast of Australia to Darwin, is as follows:

($m)

1982-83-1.5

1983-84-2.0

1984-85-nil

1985-86-nil

1986-87-nil

1987-88-nil

(3) (iii) (a) Nil.

(3) (iii) (b) The Commonwealth is providing assistance of up to $26 million to Tasmania for the purchase, modification and repositioning of the overseas vessel 'Nils Holgersson' to replace the 'Empress of Australia' on the Bass Strait passengers service, and for some upgrading of the associated terminal facilities in Melbourne and Devonport. An amount of $0.96 million was provided in 1983-84 to fund a deposit on the vessel. The balance of $25.04 million is to be provided in 1984-85, but the amount of the grant for sea terminal works cannot be determined at this stage.

(4) (i) I am advised that the expenditures do not attract financial contributions by the States or Territories, with the exception of some Local Government authorities who may receive some financial assistance from State or Territory Governments in operating aerodromes under the ALOP.

(ii) nil.

(iii) nil.

(5) I am advised by the Department of Defence that its report on the Alice Springs to Darwin railway was agreed by all relevant areas of the Department. It concluded that the defence value of infrastructure developments, such as completion of the rail link or an upgraded highway, is almost totally related to the prospect of serious deterioration in our strategic circumstances.

A decision now to divert Defence expenditure from projects having priority in terms of endorsed planning criteria to the proposed infrastructure work would, other factors remaining constant, reduce the level of defence preparedness we would otherwise achieve.