Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3656 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I am pleased to hear today that the Chief Minister, after initially sending an obviously fairly ineffectual letter to Mr Carr, is now prepared to pressure his colleague in much stronger terms to reactivate this train service. That is a welcome sign. There is obvious concern about this in the ACT community, and it has evoked real interest. So many of our citizens who have no other form of transport and who need this service because they are elderly, have a disability or cannot travel in any other way would be very badly affected. The government has belatedly realised that that is the case.
This motion has served a purpose in ensuring that the ACT exerts a lot more pressure on its New South Wales counterpart to reactivate this essential service than it has exerted in the past. I thank Mrs Dunne for bringing forward the motion, and I commend it to the Assembly. It is timely and, if we are successful in forcing the New South Wales government to restore the full service, we will have done a lot of people a service.
Ms Dundas has an amendment that has a lot of merit. It calls on the government to investigate any means available to encourage greater utilisation of both passenger and freight services. It is important to encourage people to use this wonderful form of transport. Trains can carry a stack more freight than those big trucks can: 1,000 or 2,000 tonnes of freight in a decent goods train as opposed to a maximum of about 50 tonnes in any large truck that travels around here.
In the territory they do not call big trucks with three or four compartments "road trains"for nothing. They approach a real train, which has 50 or 60 carriages to carry goods. Ms Dundas's inclusion is a most useful one. We should encourage more people to use this service and more businesses to use the freight services. That will assist in making the service more economically viable as well.
It is like the New South Wales government's hide to interrupt a service to the national capital. They get a lot of benefit from the territory. I can recall being asked that we pay for it. We provide a lot of services to New South Wales residents. Over 25 per cent of people coming to our hospitals are from the region. About 12 to 14 per cent of all of our TAFE students come from the surrounding area, and so they should. We are the regional centre. But there can be a quid pro quo. Because we provide a lot to them, it is only fair that the New South Wales government at least continue this service to the national capital and from the national capital to Sydney.
MS DUNDAS (5.58): I will take this opportunity to speak to Mr Stanhope's amendment and the substantive motion moved by Mrs Dunne. I foreshadow for members that I have circulated an amendment, which I will be moving at the conclusion of the debate on Mr Stanhope's amendment and any subsequent amendments that are put forward to his amendment, which is being discussed at the moment.
Rail services in Canberra have a long history. According to the ACT branch of the Australian Railway Historical Society, the past 80 years have seen a cavalcade of change for the railways of the capital, invariably reflecting broader social and economic tides sweeping both the nation and the globe. The first revenue earning train services arrived in Canberra on 25 May 1914. The first passenger service was introduced on 15 October 1923, and it ran twice daily.