Labor bidding on Inland Rail

Labor promises to hold inland rail inquiry


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Nationals leader Michael McCormack argues if you vote Labor on Inland Rail, you've voted Labor on everything, including native vegetation. Photo Mark Griggs.

Nationals leader Michael McCormack argues if you vote Labor on Inland Rail, you've voted Labor on everything, including native vegetation. Photo Mark Griggs.

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An elected Labor government would launch an inquiry into the federal government's $10 billion Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail line.

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WHEN Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese this week said an elected Labor government would launch an inquiry into the federal government's $10 billion Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail line, NSW Farmers considered it a breakthrough.

Labor's infrastructure spokesman Mr Albanese said the opposition supports the project but wants the route selection process and financing arrangements investigated.

"It is very clear the government has failed to consult properly," he told Sydney radio on Tuesday.

"It's very clear there are real issues with the route going through prime agricultural land, that the locals aren't being listened to."

Farmers along the greenfields Narromine to Narrabri route have raised concerns about a lack of transparency associated with picking the route.

A Shorten Labor government's inquiry would be led by an "eminent Australian" who would get access to Infrastructure Australia and other departments, including finance and treasury, said Mr Albanese.

NSW Farmers welcomed Labor's recognition of the concerns of regional Australians about the Inland Rail project and its commitment to conduct an independent inquiry.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson said like Labor, NSW Farmers supports the Inland Rail project, but the methodology of route selection and community concerns about the alignment and the project's ability to deliver for regional communities deserved thorough analysis.

"NSW Farmers has been calling for the Australian government to commission an independent, open and transparent inquiry into Inland Rail for more than year. At every turn, the coalition government has refused to conduct an inquiry," Mr Jackson said.

"Labor's announcement provides regional communities affected by Inland Rail with real choice. With the Nationals, to date, refusing to conduct an inquiry, it seems the only way our members and regional communities affected will get answers is with the election of a Labor government."

NSW Farmers' Inland Rail taskforce chairman Adrian Lyons said communities across western NSW deserved answers.

"An inquiry will give communities impacted by the railway the opportunity be heard," Mr Lyons said.

Mr Jackson and Mr Lyons called on the coalition to drop its hardline opposition and make an independent inquiry a bipartisan investigation.

But Nationals leader Michael McCormack hit back at Mr Albanese, criticising Labor's approach to the bush.

"Labor's cheap fear mongering on Inland Rail is nothing more than an attempt to spread uncertainty and doubt amongst our rural and regional communities," he said on Wednesday.

"At the very least, Mr Albanese could have travelled west of the divide and spoken to real people in real communities, instead he chose to address city slickers in the heart of Sydney.

"That alone speaks volumes of Labor, all the gear but no idea," said Mr McCormack.

"We're talking about the party that has failed to fund a single mobile phone tower in rural and regional Australia, which turned the Regional Development Fund into the city fringes fund, and the party which wants it's detrimental vegetation management laws to be rolled out nationally."

"The Liberal and Nationals are not going to hide from delivering the infrastructure Australia needs to drive economic growth, increase productivity and connectivity, and create new jobs.

"What Labor doesn't realise is regional businesses and farmers want to take advantage of new opportunities for export growth, and get their produce to market faster.

"Famers and business owners using the Inland Rail could cut transport costs by up to $94 per tonne. When farmers hear that the feedback is 'get on with it'," he said.

Mr McCormack said the Inland Rail corridor has been informed by extensive studies over the past decade.

"Right now community feedback is being fed into the design of Inland Rail, following this, the environmental impact statement will be lodged with the state government for planning approval," he said.

With reporting from AAP.

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