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Wednesday, 3 November 1971
Page: 2898

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and refer to recent reports concerning the construction of a standard gauge rail link between Tarcoola and Darwin. As this link could pass through the important income earning mining area of Tennant Creek will the Minister and the Government give this matter urgent consideration?

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - I have seen some interesting reports, which are somewhat speculative, on the possibility of the construction of a rail link between Port Augusta and Darwin, but they seemed to be a mixture of facts and speculation. The facts are, of course, that the Commonwealth Government has a commitment under the Northern Territory

Railway Extension Act and, I think, also under the South Australian Railways Standardisation Agreement, to construct a railway link between Port Augusta and Darwin. The fact also is that the Commonwealth is committed, in the present programme, to the construction of a line between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. At present, surveyors are making detailed study of that particular part of the route. This will be a major portion of the line. I am fully aware of the honourable member's concern for there to be a proper transportation link between the mining town of Tennant Creek and Alice Springs and Darwin. I recognise the value he would see in a rail link from Alice Springs to Darwin. But in 1965 the Loder Committee said that there was no economic justification for the construction of the link at that time and that it did not see any economic justification for the proposal to build that link to be implemented in the foreseeable future. At the moment I am afraid that is where the matter stands. The Government has taken a decision on the Tarcoola to Alice Springs link. We will look at the other part of the line when developments occur.

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