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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1271 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I see from letters to our local newspaper that a significant number of people continue to argue the case for the Maglev train and, I suspect, argue that the assessment process was not as fair as it ought to have been. But, at the end of the day, a decision has been made on a train system, a railway system rather than a guide rail system, to travel between Canberra and Sydney and perhaps to Melbourne one day. There is a lot of argument about how it will compete with airlines and there are some realities that we have to take into account. The fact of the matter is that the population densities in Europe are far more suitable to the provision of these sorts of railway systems than is the case in the ACT and Australia. After all, Canberra's population base is very small when you take into account the cities between which fast train systems travel in Europe.

I do not recall the argument about the time that the train will take to get from Sydney to Melbourne, but I know that it would be fairly difficult to compete with airlines on that sort of distance. Between Sydney and Canberra, of course, the distance is ideal because the trains, both the French one and the German one, could easily compete with aircraft. I suspect they would take much of their patronage if there were appropriate train stations, or vehicle stations, in Sydney and Canberra. At the same time, I think a 200-kilometre per hour tilt train would compete with the airlines as well. Again, one has to take that statement into consideration against the background of what the ticket costs might be. Mr Speaker, I am quite enthusiastic about seeing a better transportation system between Sydney and Canberra. Maybe it is not fundamental to our future, but it is an important addition which we should all applaud.

MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.29): Mr Speaker, I rise because I like trains too. I join other members in congratulating Speedrail. We accept that was the decision. But, as somebody who has ridden on both a TGV train, as Mr Berry has, and a magnetic levitation train, I share that emotional disappointment that so many other members have already touched on. Had I been in Mr Howard's shoes as the prime decision-maker in this area and had I been really looking for a nation-building exercise, an exercise that actually touched the imagination and gave the nation a sense of going somewhere into the future, in my view, a magnetic levitation train would have been it. Those of us who have ridden on it know that it is exceptional.

The two trains do not compare. But it is the old story. A Rolls Royce or a Ferrari may be fantastic to drive, but the vast majority of us still get around in our Toyotas, Holdens, or whatever. Those issues had to be taken into consideration. The decision has been made and I think it is a fantastic one because, as I said right from the beginning when I looked at this, provided we get a fast train coming through to Canberra, we are winners. That is the most important thing. Still speaking with that little disappointment that we have missed out on the Rolls Royce, had the magnetic levitation train been considered right through to - - -

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