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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 896 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I rise to speak today merely as a consequence of the references in the Chief Minister's speech - she may be able to explain why - to only high speed trains. High speed trains are much faster than most Australian trains, by a long shot. I had the good fortune to be able to travel in a very ordinary train in Germany, which I thought was rather swift, and I travelled in a fast train in Spain, across the plain, which was travelling at about 200 kilometres an hour. I thought that was pretty swift too. It is important that we remain focused on the very high speed end of the market because that is the one that would bring the most benefits to us, if it would stack up in the end. I would like to hear the Chief Minister explain why she did not refer to the very high speed train in her budget speech.

MR CORBELL (3.42): Mr Speaker, I respond briefly to the Government's response to the committee report. I, of course, was the member in the last Assembly who initiated this inquiry and I was grateful to receive the support of the Assembly which wanted to take it. I am very pleased to see that the Government has chosen to agree, or agree in principle, to all of the recommendations that the committee, and my colleagues Mr Hird and Mr Osborne, made in that report. Why that is encouraging from my perspective, Mr Speaker, is that what this committee inquiry demonstrated was the need to take a positive, proactive and thoughtful approach to the issues surrounding the development of very high speed rail transport in the Canberra region. The whole purpose of the inquiry was to look, in broad terms, at the sorts of issues that we as a city need to address if we are to gain the full benefits of the development of this sort of technology in our region.

I am glad to see that those recommendations have been agreed to, but ultimately, Mr Speaker, the test will come when a decision is made on the successful proponent, how the project will be built and where it will be built. If this Government is not proactive and does not take a positive approach to dealing with the issues of high speed rail technology, there is a real risk that Canberra will not gain the benefits that it deserves from this project. For that reason, Mr Speaker, I hope that a lot of the recommendations in this report, which the Government has agreed to in principle and has indicated that it intends to implement when that stage in the development of the project is reached, will be implemented in a comprehensive manner. If that is not the case, it will be a cause for concern as the Territory will not be getting the full benefit of this project. In principle, Mr Speaker, as the Government itself has said, this is a positive project. Labor recognises it as a positive project, which means jobs and development in our region; but we need to maintain a thoughtful and strategic approach to get the best benefit from it.

MR HIRD (3.44): Mr Speaker, as chairman of the committee in the last parliament, I thank the Chief Minister for her response. I compliment the Chief Minister and colleagues for initiating and implementing already some of the recommendations. I think it goes well. I would like to thank both Mr Osborne and Mr Corbell for the professional way they went about this inquiry inasmuch as the inquiry was apolitical. It just shows what can happen if you do have the will. As the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism said, this project provides an opportunity to develop hundreds of jobs not only for the Canberra area but also for the south-east region of New South Wales and it must be plus, plus, plus.

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