Rallying right to the poll

NSW Farmers explains why it is digging in on Inland Rail

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NSW Farmers' president James Jackson and Inland Rail Taskforce chairman Adrian Lyons during a NSW Farmers Inland Rail tour in December.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson and Inland Rail Taskforce chairman Adrian Lyons during a NSW Farmers Inland Rail tour in December.

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To help explain its staunch position on Inland Rail, NSW Farmers has released a fact sheet which details its reasons.

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NSW Farmers is digging in on Inland Rail right up to the election, and for good reason says the association's Inland Rail Taskforce chairman Adrian Lyons.

Mr Lyons said the group had been labelled as obnoxious, and was questioned on its stance including by farmer members.

So to help explain its staunch position, NSW Farmers has released a fact sheet which details its reasons.

The first point it makes is the association supports Inland Rail and its potential benefits, but goes on to explain where it feels the Government has let its members down.

"People aren't getting listened to out here - we don't count, and that's why you've got people like Will Landers having a go," said Mr Lyons, referring to the independent candidate for Parkes.

However, he said people also didn't realise how regularly representatives of the association had been in discussions with the ARTC, and with Government.

They had also sat down with the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanense, who Mr Lyons said was thoroughly across the detail.

"It's so comforting to know he's so on top of this project," Mr Lyons said.

Yet, he said if the Nationals would commit to an independent inquiry "they'd win the voter back out here".

The fact sheet is the association's "final hit for us to show that we've followed it right through to an election ... they (the Government and ARTC) can't answer the questions we're asking".

The Nationals leader Michael McCormack said in a radio interview during April with 4CRB, that the original estimations of $10 a tonne saving for farmers was now looking like being nearer to $76/t, and for post food process products about $94/t.

In a statement to The Land he also said Labor failed to realise regional businesses and farmers want to take advantage of new opportunities for export growth.

"In order to meet service delivery, the Inland Rail needs to be less than 24 hours from point to point, otherwise there is no point building it," he said.

However, Mr Lyons said the Government had not clarified how farming communities would benefit and the fact sheet said government was disinterested in the rail's capacity to develop regional sustainability.

Among other questions on the fact sheet were "why is it deemed to be more efficient and cost effective to build a new rail line compared with upgrading the existing corridor? What is the potential added cost to a freight forwarder on an additional one, five or 10 minutes on the journey time?".

"Why is a two-minute saving (between Narromine and Curban) more important than identifying a corridor which has broad community support and that doesn't cut viable farm businesses in half?"

The association also says it uncovered errors in official briefing notes to ministers ... and ... there are deep concerns about the quality of information being used to justify decision making.

Mr Lyons said the association's members felt the ARTC had moved onto phase two prematurely and the ARTC's middle and upper management had not heeded feedback from its own staff on the ground.

He said an inquiry would be a win-win because if the government was right in its route selection, it could go ahead as planned, or if it found a glaring problem, the route could be altered.

However, Mr McCormack said the rail corridor had been informed by extensive studies in the past decade and would deliver the best overall outcome.

Community feedback was currently being fed into the design of the project and then the environmental impact statement would be lodged for state government planning approval.

This though could yet be blocked if the NSW Government takes issue with any particular aspect.

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