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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 895 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

In conclusion, we are getting to the serious end of the decision-making cycle and this means that the Canberra community, its politicians, business people and residents need to pull together to maximise the benefits that can flow to the region from this project. We, in the ACT, are the smaller team and are against some big players in the competition for the benefits that will flow from the project. However, I am sure that our desire as a community to see the project implemented will see us successful in our aims.

I note the Opposition Leader's belated interest in the project and his attempt to score some political points in the media last week. We welcome the bipartisan support for the VHST because it has not always been forthcoming from those opposite.

Mr Berry: Labor started it.

MS CARNELL: Absolutely true, Mr Speaker. I would also be happy to organise a briefing for Mr Stanhope - and Mr Quinlan too, if he is interested - on all that has gone on till now in getting this project to where it is today, so that he can avoid repeating some of the ridiculous things he said last week. Again, I thank the members of the standing committee for their efforts, along with all the community groups and individuals who took the time to make a contribution to the committee's deliberations.

MR BERRY (3.38): As Labor's tourism spokesperson, I can say that this project puts a significant benefit on the horizon for the Territory. Labor started the debate over the very high speed train back in the days when Rosemary Follett was Chief Minister. I recall attending meetings between her and the then project development group under a different name. Of course, it has developed since then. There has been a great deal of hyperbole about the issue. Mr Moore and I have both sampled very high speed train services elsewhere. I have also been involved in the examination of some high speed train services and have taken a keen interest in the issue because of the importance of it to the Canberra region.

I am pleased to see that the Government has responded positively to the committee's report, but one thing which has caused me some concern in more recent times is the budget speech by the Chief Minister. Not once, as far as I could see, throughout the speech did the Chief Minister mention the very high speed train. She mentioned the high speed train, but there is quite a lot of difference. I wondered, when I read the speech, whether there was some inside knowledge about the future of the program or whether or not the Chief Minister had lost a little bit of enthusiasm for it, for some unknown reason. It did trouble me to read right through that speech and see reference to only the high speed train. In all previous references to a new rail link or high speed vehicle link, whatever you want to call it, between here and Sydney, the emphasis has been on the very high speed end of this sort of transport, either the French TGV which is capable of speeds up to 350 kilometres an hour - but 300 is around about right - or the German project which is capable of speeds up to 500 kilometres an hour but certainly over 400. I must say that, having travelled at over 400 kilometres an hour on a train, that is my favourite. But there are some economic and practical issues that have to be considered, and I am pleased to see that the examination of those issues is occurring.

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