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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3653 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Australia's pre-eminent city, Sydney. Once a service has gone-this is the history of all rail services around New South Wales and Australia; we see the sad remainders of rail services of bygone times-it takes an enormous effort to have it re-established. The infrastructure runs down, the costs grow and-perhaps our greatest fear-if it is removed, it will never be restarted. We must ensure that that does not happen.

It would make much greater sense to use the rail infrastructure and the assets that we have to make the train trip more attractive to passengers to generate more revenue. That is the approach we should take, and it is the approach that the ACT government will be putting in a submission we are currently preparing for the interim report on the ministerial inquiry into public passenger transport, expressing our very strong views on the possible closure of the rail service.

That issue, and perhaps some of the other, more gratuitous aspects of Mrs Dunne's motion, led me to propose the amendment I am proposing. The government is currently preparing a submission, which will be expressed in strong terms. It will convey all the sentiments that Mrs Dunne has expressed, sentiments which the government shares about the vital importance of this rail link to a significant number of Canberrans.

As I said, 170,000 trips a year, essentially 85,000 each way, is a significant number of journeys by Canberrans. Indeed, it is more journeys than are undertaken by bus. Through that submission, we will pursue the restoration of the full train service to include the morning and evening runs, which have been replaced by bus services that we fear will become permanent.

For the information of members, we have continued efforts commenced under the previous government to develop a service-level agreement. Our experience in relation to those negotiations is the same as the experience of the previous government. They are complicated negotiations. They are complicated now, as they were under the previous government, by issues of developing a formal basis for the New South Wales occupancy of the Kingston rail yards. The negotiations also involve track infrastructure, railway buildings and the identity of the actual service provider.

Another complication that has made the negotiations difficult is the corporatisation of the New South Wales rail service. That has led to difficulties, which we are still battling with, identifying which organisations are to be responsible for which parts of the operation and, indeed, the management of the agreement.

We are continuing to negotiate that service-level agreement. We took over the negotiations from the previous government. They have not been easy. They have been complicated and difficult for us, as they were for the previous government. But we are continuing to pursue the completion of a service-level agreement with New South Wales. The basis of that is to ensure that this agreement restores full train services between Canberra and Sydney.

On that note, Mr Speaker, I move the following amendment:

Omit all words after "That this Assembly:"

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