Tasmanian Times

Politics

Off to the Feds for rail salvation

MICHAEL STEDMAN, Mercury

THE State Government will buy back Tasmania’s ailing rail operations, taking over from November 30.
The State Government and Pacific National’s parent company Asciano had been locked in two days of crisis talks after revelations the company was pulling the plug on its operations from the end of this month.

Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges emerged from “very intense” negotiations at 4pm yesterday to announce the Tasmanian Government would take over the entire network by November 30, subject to agreement by the Asciano board and Cabinet.

Mr Sturges would not comment on the agreed price, saying only that the state had secured a “very good deal”.

It is believed Asciano was seeking $40 million from a commercial sale process.

“It is a great outcome for the Tasmanian community, it is a great outcome for the business community, and it is also a great outcome for the employees of Pacific National Tasmania,” Mr Sturges said.

All operations will continue until November 30, including the freight line to the West Coast mines.

Closure of that line could have put more than 100 extra trucks on the road every week.

The deal includes the profitable West Coast and Australian Cement lines, the Burnie concentrates loading facility and Launceston maintenance workshops.

“Dare I say it, we take it lock, stock, barrel and locos,” Mr Sturges said.

There was no money in the State Budget to take over rail.

But Mr Sturges said he had had preliminary discussions with the Federal Government about using funds from the existing $250 million rail infrastructure package. Read more here

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Richard Butler

    June 20, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I was chatting to Iva Sorend the other day, and apparently Tasmanian Parks are to manage Rail – because when the inevitable comes and the while thing falls over, they can put soil down in between the sleepers (not the members of Parliament) and grow native bushes there, making these long thin national parks.

  2. William Boeder

    June 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Seems there was never any real government determination to recognise the need to maintain the State’s rail network.
    This is only to be expected through our long term Labor State government being deeply complicit in denial to supporting that of which could be a vibrant State-serving rail network.
    Far better for them it seems was to pour such large revenues into the State’s proven unsustainable forestry industry.
    The Tasmanian rail network debacle is a clear example of the loyalty and revenues as given to the lords of forestry.
    A simpleton could soon tally the amount of money so blatantly mis-directed into the gluttonous environment ruining forestry industry, that same money could have seen our rail-network and its infrastructure worth many many millions in assets to the State.
    Where now in lieu, it is but another State Labor government created, sorry debt upon the people.

  3. salamander

    June 20, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Who will take over an ailing Tasmania?

  4. Garry Stannus

    June 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Does Minister Graeme Sturges have any positive job performance attributes? Are there parts of his job that he has done well in? Or is he as he appears?

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