Acting on widespread community and financial concerns, the Senate this week backed Labor’s call to establish an inquiry into the Inland Rail project.
After years of inaction from the Coalition, the Inland Rail is at a critical point in its planning and construction timeframe.
Inland Rail is the biggest project assigned by the Prime Minister to his Deputy. Deputy Prime Minister McCormack must get Inland Rail right.
The Deputy Prime Minister must stop ignoring the legitimate concerns of affected rural and urban communities about the route selection process. The final alignment in parts of NSW and Queensland deviated from recommendations in 2010 and 2015 studies. As it stands, Inland Rail terminates 38km south of the Port of Brisbane at Acacia Ridge.
The Deputy Prime Minister must be transparent around the Government’s understanding of the project’s commercial viability. There are widespread concerns around the commercial viability of the “off budget” $8.4 billion equity injection into the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Labor in Government supported Inland Rail with almost $1 billion in grant funding to progress track upgrades and planning. The project has the potential to support economic growth along its route from Melbourne to Brisbane.
Comments attributable to Ms Catherine King MP:
- “Labor supports the Inland Rail project but we hold deep concerns that this Government has failed to address fundamental questions on planning and financing.”
- “The Deputy Prime Minister is failing to adequately consult on the Inland Rail route, turning farmer against farmer, community against community.”
- “There are widespread concerns the Government won’t see an adequate return to justify its “off-budget” $8.4 billion equity injection.”
Comments attributable to Senator Murray Watt:
- “It’s important for the Senate to examine this Government’s implementation of major projects like Inland Rail.”
- “I invite submissions from all stakeholders – in particular those affected communities this Government is ignoring.”
- “Labor wants to see Inland Rail succeed. The Committee will listen to concerns from all sides and propose recommendations to improve the project.”
Terms of Reference:
The following matter be referred to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 September 2020:
The management of the Inland Rail project by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Commonwealth Government, with particular reference to:
- Financial arrangements of the project;
- Route planning and selection processes;
- Connections with other freight infrastructure, including ports and intermodal hubs;
- Engagement on route alignment, procurement and employment;
- Urban and regional economic development opportunities;
- Collaboration between Governments;
- Interaction with National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy; and
- Any other related matters.
Shadow Assistant Minister Senator Glenn Sterle will chair the Inquiry. Submissions close 8 November 2019. More information available here.