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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2705 ..

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope says, "Ask the patients". I have to say to you, Mr Stanhope, that out of the 500,000 or so separation service deliveries that we provide in the public hospital system each year there will be, occasionally, some patients who are dissatisfied. If there were 365 of them, or .001 per cent or whatever that is of them, that would still give you a story to run like this every single day; but if that is going to be the case, Jon, at least get your facts right.

Very Fast Train Project

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, my question, addressed to the Chief Minister, relates to the fast train project. Chief Minister, a bit over a year ago - I think it was on 4 August last year - the Prime Minister announced that the Speedrail Consortium had been selected as the preferred tenderer for the fast train and that Speedrail would then proceed to the next stage of a so-called proving up process to determine whether they could deliver the product or whether they could not. We were told that that proving up period would take six months - in other words, until March of this year. Along the way there have been some rumours that the proposal put forward, and on which Speedrail was selected, has been significantly modified. In fact, what they are offering now is not a two-rail track between here and Sydney but a one-rail track with passing loops, and the price for that has gone up as opposed to the original price that they quoted. In light of all of that, can the Chief Minister indicate whether or not it is true that the Speedrail proposal has been significantly modified since they were given the go ahead for a so-called proving up period? Secondly, since the proving up period was to have been completed in March, can the Chief Minister tell us whether that proving up period has been concluded yet and, if so, what was the result and when is the result going to be published.

MS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine. I am always happy to speak about the fast train project. In fact, yesterday I was at some meetings with Federal Ministers on that particular issue. The Speedrail group is now undertaking additional work on the proving up part of its submission, as I understand it. I understand that this will involve the Speedrail group refining the details of its submission, including issues such as design engineering costs, revenue and other impacts of the project. At the end of this process the Speedrail group is expected to provide a detailed submission that resolves all technical issues and is fully underwritten to the satisfaction of all three governments.

Mr Speaker, I have no information whatsoever from Speedrail, and nor should I, of the outcome of its proving up process at this stage. I understand though that Speedrail expects to submit its prove up document late this year. It will then be addressed to all of the three governments. I think it was in March this year that the Commonwealth Minister for Transport and Regional Services and the New South Wales Minister and I signed a heads of agreement. The Commonwealth understood to take the lead role in the prove up stage of the project, and that is what is happening at this stage. If the prove up stage is satisfactorily completed, the governments then will begin to contract with Speedrail and the environmental assessment and planning processes will commence. These processes will include extensive public consultation prior to any government approval.

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