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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1646

Mr WALLIS (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Can the Minister for Transport give any information on the progress of the negotiations now proceeding between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia on the construction of a new standard gauge railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs? Can he also restate the intention of the Commonwealth Government to proceed with this project at the earliest opportunity?

Mr CHARLES JONES - An agreement is pending between the Australian Government and the South Australian Government on the construction of a new railway line between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. My understanding of the position is that in May of last year the then Minister for Shipping and Transport forwarded to the South Australian Government the outline of an agreement for the building of that railway. The South Australian Government did not agree with it. It indicated that it wanted to have the right to determine what section of the existing line linking Alice Springs, Marree and Port Augusta could be closed at any time. It wanted to determine what would be the freight rates on the new line so that they would not be more than those applying in the South Australian railway system. The then Prims Minister replied in November last year rejecting that proposition. When I became Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation the South Australian Government wrote to me through the Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister replied in February of this year indicating that this Government was adopting the same attitude as the former Government, that it considered the agreement to be a fair and reasonable one but that it was prepared to confer before any changes took place. At this stage the matter is still in the hands of the Premier of South Australia.

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