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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2618

Mr DAVIES (Braddon) - I will not detain the House very long. I would like to make a contribution to this debate because I attended a meeting at Ulverstone on Monday night. I support the Bill before the House. I am very pleased that the Bell Bay rail link is now to be constructed. This rail link will, as my 2 colleagues from Tasmania have said, be of tremendous benefit to the wood chip industry in Tasmania. It will in addition, as the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) said, provide opportunities for employment which will ease the unemployment situation. The rail link will also provide for much needed impetus to the processing works for the impregnation of timber at Longford in the honourable member's electorate. I ask the Minister for Shipping and

Transport (Mr Nixon) whether he will carefully bear in mind the impact of this decision by the Government to build the Bell Bay railway link on the recommendations in the Pak-Poy report that has just been released in Tasmania. I sincerely hope that the Tasmanian Government after considering the Pak-Poy report will throw it out holus-bolus. There is quite a lot of good in the report, and some of the recommendations are all right, but there is a lot of feeling in Tasmania among economists and others that the recommendations are based on wrong information and, so, many of the findings are incorrect.

The whole report seeks to justify the upgrading of the railway service in Tasmania and, because of the provision of Commonwealth money for the Bell Bay link, the report contained a recommendation that Bell Bay be the one port for Tasmania. This is completely contrary to the 4-port system in which the Minister for Shipping and Transport has a special interest because the Australian National Line has over the years not only supported but also built its line of ships to service the 4- port concept which has operated so successfully in the island State of Tasmania. If the Government is at all influenced by the Pak-Poy report based upon the concept of the link to the present Tasmanian railway service taking all non-bulk cargo from all over Tasmania simply to get longer rail haulage and so make the railways pay - and this is definitely the thinking of the people who produced the Pak-Poy report - woe betide all attempts at decentralisation and the attempts of the Australian National Line over the years to develop the ports of Hobart, Devonport and Burnie. It will not only destroy the concept of decentralisation as we know it but also add an impossible burden on industries that have grown up around the 4-port concept in Tasmania.

For example, paper from Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd at Burnie and Wesley Vale will have to be conveyed by rail over this link to Bell Bay, according to the recommendations in this report. This will add an extra $6 a ton to the freight charge for this product. We know, of course, the difficulties being experienced by this industry at the present time. It has retrenched from 250 to 300 employees. It looks as though Pak-Poy and Associates completely based its report on the fact that the Commonwealth Government has provided the funds and the State Government intends to carry out the rail link to Bell Bay, and in trying to build up the financial returns of the railways it has come out so strongly in favour of the oneport concept. I add this word of warning and ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he would look into this question, because I fail to see how all the Australian National Line shipping services at present serving Tasmania can be concentrated upon the port at Bell Bay simply because it has this rail link provided by Commonwealth money. I repeat that it will sound the death knell for many of the small industries that have grown up in the port areas. I might add for the Minister's information that there was quite a large public meeting at Ulverstone with representatives of municipal councils from Smithton to Latrobe and from the marine ports along the north-western coast. Out of it has been established a committee to deal directly on this matter and report to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in Canberra. I appeal to the Government to make sure, irrespective of the benefits that this money will provide for Bell Bay and the wood chip industry in northern Tasmania - and I support it very wholeheartedly - to take cognisance of the fact that the Australian National Line knows more about the benefits of the 4-port concept than Pak-Poy, which has based its report wholly and solely on the fact that the Commonwealth is building this rail link. It has tried to justify the sending of all goods through this link in order to make the Tasmanian railways pay. If this happens many industries will go out of existence.

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