Rail Services

About this Item
SpeakersSpeaker; Black Mr Peter; Scully Mr Carl
BusinessQuestions Without Notice


Page: 3686

    Mr BLACK: My question without notice is to the Minister for Transport. What is the latest information on the Government delivering rail services for New South Wales?

    Mr SCULLY: It was a great day for Broken Hill yesterday when the honourable member for Murray-Darling was able to inform the people of Broken Hill that Country Labor had delivered again. Well done! I believe that a little bit of history is in order. In 1989, when the honourable member for Murray-Darling was the mayor of Broken Hill, these miserable members opposite cancelled the Silver City Comet to Broken Hill. Who was chief of staff to Bruce Baird at that time? It was none other than the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, Barry O'Farrell. The people of Broken Hill were outraged.

    The Labor Party made a commitment in 1994 leading up to 1995 that we would return the train service to Broken Hill. When we came to office we returned that service in 1996. However, the former Coalition Government had left the rail rolling stock in such shambles that the only rolling stock available were 50-year-old rail carriages, which were only able to run for about four years. As I informed the House a little while ago, those carriages got to the stage of being so old that we needed to withdraw them from active service. We made a commitment at the time that we would return the train to Broken Hill. This is where Country Labor works in an integrated, holistic fashion. The National Party should listen to how we operate.

    South Coast Country Labor delivered not only for the Illawarra and the South Coast, but also for their communities by getting the electrification from Dapto to Kiama. That was a $42 million project and a big win for the honourable member for Kiama, the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Illawarra. This freed up three Endeavour rail cars and the Government spent $4.2 million converting those Endeavour rail cars to three Explorers, which were delivered yesterday, and we had a terrific time. The honourable member for Dubbo should be pleased to hear that the train left this morning on time. I understand it is out in the vicinity of Parkes on its way back into Sydney. It will be a record service—Monday morning out, Tuesday morning back.

    Yesterday the honourable member for Murray-Darling and I went on board the train at Menindee and the local townsfolk were there to receive the train. Menindee Central Public School was out in force. In fact, practically the whole school went on board the train for the trip up to Broken Hill. Honourable members may remember Darnick station. The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai does not like to hear about Darnick station because that is the station he had accidentally bulldozed. The train went through Darnick station and about 40 people were there to welcome it.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I place the honourable member for Coffs Harbour on two calls to order.

    Mr SCULLY: The train pulled up and the people enthusiastically received that train returned to them by the Labor Government. When we pulled into Broken Hill station the reception was absolutely terrific. The band played Waltzing Matilda and there was a banner—

    Mrs Chikarovski: Please don't sing!

    Mr SCULLY: They hate this stuff. Every question time we should tell them about the achievements of Country Labor because they hate hearing about them. This is a great Country Labor achievement. The band played Waltzing Matilda, the train broke through a banner and 200 townsfolk crammed the station. There was a euphoric three cheers for Peter Black, who had delivered the train. I will not say "Hip hip hooray for Peter Black" in the Chamber, because that would be unparliamentary. However, in Broken Hill there was virtually a standing ovation for this great member for Murray-Darling.

    The new train will not be called the Silver City Comet, because that is what those opposite called it. Yesterday the townsfolk expressed some interest about what it would be called. Some have suggested the "Silver City Xplorer" and the local member has suggested the "Broken Hill Bullet". I assure National Party members that, despite pressure from the Country Labor team, we will not call it the "Broken Hill Blackie", the "Blackie Bullet" or anything like that. There will be a competition to decide the name and we would like to hear from the townsfolk what they want their train to be called. The front page of this morning's edition of the Barrier Daily Truth—which yet again tells the truth—carries the headline "Glorious return of city's comet". The article reads:
        The ghost of the Silver City Comet was laid to rest yesterday when the new Sydney train pulled into Crystal Street Station.

        The pipe band struck up with "Waltzing Matilda" and the hundreds of people along the station platform applauded as the Silver City Xplorer, whistle blowing, broke the banner set across the tracks.
    Well done to the honourable member for Murray-Darling. This Government is doing still more for regional rail networks. I thank Country Labor and the honourable member for Maitland for securing 14 new rail cars in the Hunter. The tender process is well advanced. This is another win for Broken Hill because tied into that contract are three brand-new rail cars for the Broken Hill service. When the 14 new rail cars are delivered for the Hunter there will be another three for Broken Hill. The carriages that we sent to Broken Hill yesterday, which cost $4.2 million as new, will be replaced in the next few years by brand-new rail carriages, and Country Labor and the honourable member for Murray-Darling will deliver for country people again. We will have a win on the South Coast, a win in the Broken Hill area and a win in the Maitland-outer Hunter region of this State. This Government is delivering for the people of New South Wales.

    Despite what members opposite say, this Government continues to deliver for metropolitan Sydney and outer suburban areas of the Central Coast and the Illawarra. We have a contract well advanced for InterCity cars for the Illawarra and the Central Coast. As we indicated in the media this morning, the Millennium trains will be delivered on Sunday and Monday. However, the House should know about the Opposition's record in delivering trains. We have heard Opposition members criticising Labor governments and their delivery of trains, so I ask: What is the Coalition's record in government?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the National Party will cease interjecting.

    Mr SCULLY: Their record is pretty ordinary. The Tangara train was commissioned, designed, built and introduced by Labor in government. The Millennium train was commissioned, designed, is being built and will be introduced by Labor. What did those opposite do? How many trains have Coalition governments introduced in the past 30 years? I would like to say none, but there is one that was introduced in February-March 1995. When I learned about it I said, "That can't be right; there's no train running around the system now." But I was told that it was correct.

    I telephoned one of my deputy chief executive officers today to check that a Coalition government actually introduced a train—I am not used to Coalition governments delivering infrastructure; they have no idea how to do it. However, I was told that it was correct and that it was called the "Tilt Train". I asked how it had happened and I was told that the State director of the Liberal Party made a call to Bruce Baird and said, "Let's engage in the mother of all political stunts; let's get a tilt train out." Bruce then said to Barry, "Hold on, where can we get a tilt train to whiz out just before the State election?"

    Mr O'Farrell: Not true.

    Mr SCULLY: This is true; and you should be embarrassed about it. The Coalition sent a team to Sweden to lease a tilt train and to gain expertise on how to drive and run it. The train came to Australia on a special boat from Sweden. The boat docked at the wharf and the train was lowered onto the track.

    Mr Tink: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. The question was about Broken Hill, not Sweden. I would have thought the Minister for Transport would understand the difference, as he is a city-based member who purports to know something about Country Labor.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.

    Mr SCULLY: They took the train off the boat from Sweden and found that it could not power itself on our system. So the three tilt train carriages were pulled by two XPT power cars for what I call the "mother of all rail stunts". The train went on a magical mystery tour around the State. Where did it go? It visited the North Coast, Moree, Armidale, Tamworth, Dubbo, Parkes, Broken Hill, Albury, Wollongong, Penrith and Campbelltown. The train even went to the Easter show at Moore Park. How did they get it to Moore Park? They took it off the tracks, put it on a truck and drove to Moore Park to display it.

    What concerns me is that this mother of all rail stunts cost $10 million of taxpayers' money. Next time the chairman of the Opposition waste watch committee has the gall to comment about so-called government waste—and if any of my frontbench colleagues hear such a comment from him again—each and every one of us should ask him, "When is the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party going to pay back that $10 million it took from the taxpayers before the 1995 election?"

    Mr O'Farrell: Point of order: The party will pay the bill when the Minister for Transport proves his case.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.