Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2750 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
We discussed this matter further and there was a suggestion that the transport Ministers set up a land transport commission. I think initially that was code for establishing another road transport commission, but then it was road and rail. In the end we rejected that. We said that we should have a small secretariat advising us on the appropriate transport infrastructure for tying road, rail, air and sea ports together to best serve the needs of the people of Australia. I think the very high-speed train project has played a role in exciting the imagination of people and focusing their attention on issues such as the impact that a high-speed rail link would have on the whole nation, not just on Canberra.
I do not know how accurate the reporting in the Daily Telegraph has been that Federal Cabinet is considering these things. I hope that they are considering them. I hope that the Federal Cabinet will look at the sorts of sums that have been bandied around for building Badgerys Creek and consider whether we can reasonably put that money into other projects that would better serve the nation on all sorts of grounds, such as a very high-speed rail link that might extend across the eastern seaboard. All that just focuses attention back on Canberra. I think it is very important that everybody appreciates the impact that it would have on us as a city. That is why this debate today is important. We might vary on the detail. Some of us have other favourites. All of us looked at Maglev and the technology of the future and wondered which one was better and how they would go, but the committee that did the work came down with Speedrail and Speedrail has been given time to firm up their proposal.
In terms of Canberra as a city, the proposal brings a focus to all the things that we could become, that we should become and that we can become. We always talk about Canberra's technology industries and its computing industries. All of those will be required to build a very high-speed train that works. That is mirrored by Monday's announcement that Bishop Austrans actually sees the ACT as the place where it would like to set up the test track that will prove the technologies of the next millennium.
Let us not underplay how important Bishop Austrans can be, not just for Canberra, but for the world. The technologies that will be required to put Bishop Austrans' proposal into operation are the very things that we are talking about here in Canberra - about a clever, caring city, about improving amenity to residents and about building on what we have to take us forward into the next decade, the next century, the next millennium. It is those industries, harnessed for the good of us all, that will continue to make Canberra a tremendous city. We see the train proposal coming to Canberra and we see the airport going to private ownership and, hopefully, a dramatic expansion of that airport to service our needs and the needs of the rest of the nation.
That, then, draws into it a man like Mr Bishop, who holds some of the most significant patents worldwide on steering - I think it is rack and pinion steering - that he developed. He has those patents. He has used that knowledge that he has to overcome some of the difficulties that, say, monorail systems face. Among the difficulties they have is their inability to climb above a certain gradient and to corner, so there is the amazing outcome in Sydney that the monorail actually passes through the corner of a building, which you would have to say is somewhat curious.