Tasmanian Government to nationalise rail
All Tasmanian rail operations will be taken over by the State Government at the end of November, reports the ABC.
The Government has reportedly reached agreement with the owner Asciano after more than a year since the company put its rail assets up for sale. Earlier this month the company lost patience and said it would close its west coast operations.
After two days of intense negotiations in Hobart, the government has agreed to buy all Tasmanian assets from the company. The Minister for Infrastructure, Graeme Sturges will not say what price has been agreed, but says it is a very good deal for Tasmania.
The deal still needs to be signed off on by the Asciano board and State Cabinet before it goes ahead.
All rail operations will now continue until the transfer on the 30th of November.
It is understood the Tasmanian Government has sought federal help for the rail takeover. The transaction is expected to cost up to $30 million.
While the Infrastructure Minister, Graeme Sturges, is remaining tight lipped on the price it is expected to be between $20-$30 million.
Questioned about the arrangements by the committee yesterday, the Treasurer Michael Aird said there was still a lot to be worked out but Commonwealth assistance would be sought.
"There can be a range of options here and what I’m saying is we have to have some very serious discussions with the Commonwealth," he said.
The Treasurer expects Mr Sturges to have something more to report about the deal to State Cabinet in the next few weeks.
The Infrastructure Minister says he does not expect the outgoing rail operator to strip assets from the state but he is taking precautions.
Graeme Sturges has told ABC Local Radio the deal has been agreed to in good faith but he is not taking any chances.
"This week I’ve got a representative of Crown Law and senior officers of my department going to Sydney to tidy up the negotiated outcome," he said.
When asked whether that meant he did not trust the company Mr Sturges said: "It means that we’ve got to be pragmatic in our commercial dealings."