March 10th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Nationals: the last hurrah?

EDITORIAL: Government embraces the politics of panic

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Competition Policy the next to go?

INDONESIA: Borneo violence further weakens Wahid

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why refugees are a soft target

Help needed for North Queensland farmers

DRUGS: Drug policy criticised by international board

Straws in the Wind

Letter: Kim Beazley - look at the record

Senate inquiry attacks NZ apple import proposal

ECONOMICS: Trade blocs - where will Australia fit?


HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty Report may sink China's Olympic bid

HEALTH: Lessons of SA abortion experience

COMMENT: Paul Lyneham - Australia's H. L. Mencken

Teen books gone from "honest" to "offensive"

Letter: Refugees - coarsening of attitudes

Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway

Letter: One Nation

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Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway

by Kevin O'Neill

News Weekly, March 10, 2001


The drop out of financial support for the Alice Springs-Darwin rail link should surprise no one conversant with the problem.

Although there has been long emotional support for this rail link, there has never been a great need for it while there is an efficient all-weather road available.

Indeed, Royal Commissioner, Sir Harold Clapp, said in his 1945 Report:

"I can see no justification for converting the Port Augusta-Alice Springs railway from 3'6" gauge to standard gauge, neither can any logical argument be advanced for extending this line north of Alice Springs to connect with the Darwin line.

"In my opinion, this line can play little part in the development of the Northern Territory and as explained elsewhere in this Report, the logical development of the Northern areas is not by railway construction through hundreds of miles of very inferior country, but by a railway from Queensland across the rich Barkly Tableland." (Page 27, paragraphs 127, 128)

It should be apparent that the way to Darwin is Melbourne, Mangalore, through the Goulburn, Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan valleys - the food bowl of Australia - and other western NSW river valleys to Toowoomba, Emerald and Longreach, Hughenden, Mt Isa, Camooweal, across the Barkly Tablelands to Darwin.

This route would provide the least cost path for exports and imports for rural Australia and lay the keel of industrial development away from the coastline.

Kevin O'Neill,
Progressive Rail Association,
Tocumwal, NSW

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