Media Releases & Transcripts


June 09, 2021




SUBJECT: Inland Rail.


MICHAEL BAILEY, HOST: In the meeting was our very own Senator Anthony Chisholm, good morning to you, Anthony. How are you, it was a very busy meeting yesterday for you, wasn't it Anthony?


SENATOR ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah it was a good opportunity and we've had a discussion about Inland Rail before Michael but it was good to get the committee up to Gladstone and hear firsthand from some of the proponents. They to be honest they put forward a compelling case and it's something that they've been building momentum on now for a number of months. And I think that the evidence they put before the committee mounted a strong case for consideration of Inland Rail going to Gladstone.


HOST: Senator Susan McDonald put in, had some good ears and good questions.  I got to be direct, is this just hot air or is this going to happen, is it going to be an inquiry. Is it going to happen or is it just going on the back burner, Senator?


CHISHOLM: Well, certainly from my point of view I've been advocating strongly for Gladstone to be considered. I think the interesting thing that emerged, Michael, over the last couple of months is that it's not an either or scenario as the proponents of Inland Rail going to Gladstone are saying that they can make it work, even if it does go to Brisbane and into the port of Brisbane. So, I think that is encouraging and that is not a sense that governments have to make a decision about it goes here or it goes there. The proponents of Gladstone are saying that this can stack up on its own two feet, and that there's potentially private capital that actually want to build the link to Gladstone and so, potentially, we can look at having the best of both worlds, where it still goes into Brisbane, but there is a link to Gladstone and that means jobs and economic opportunities for Central Queensland.


HOST: It sounds to me that the Government has to tick it, and then of course the backers have to find the money, so it's going to be private enterprise that actually pays the bill in the end. Because there ain't no money left in the jam tin.


CHISHOLM: Well, there has been cost blowouts associated with Inland Rail and I think the cost is now up to $15 billion and I think it started at about five. And that's before they even decide how they're going to get down the range from Toowoomba into Brisbane which they built a road that costs $4 billion so I imagine a rail link would cost about the same that way. And then, as you know, at this stage it terminates at Acacia Ridge, which is still a long way from the port so there are a lot of costs associated with Brisbane that haven't really been explained or thought through yet. But some of that will more than likely be done by private enterprises as well for a PPP proposal. So it's not as if the proposed link into Brisbane at the moment doesn't require private money as well.


HOST: So, Senator, hand on heart. Do you think we'll actually see this in our lifetime, because it's been talked about for such a long, long, long time?


CHISHOLM: It has and I was reminded by someone yesterday that the Redcliffe rail line was first proposed in, I think in 1896 and it got built in 2010 so that took 114 years.


HOST: Right you know where I'm coming from, you know where I'm coming from.


CHISHOLM: So I understand that there can be some cynicism around these sorts of proposals but I'd have to congratulate the work of John Abbott and CQ Regional Organisation of Councils they've done a very professional job. They put forward a compelling case. And I'll certainly be advocating within the Labor Party that this be considered did it. I know that Matt Burnett who is also the Labor Candidate for Flynn, it's something that he's very passionate about. It has been for a period of time. So, I think that there is something that certainly needs serious contemplation, and there is a strong evidence base for Gladstone to be seriously considered.


HOST: The reason I say its going to be a long long time because we're going to federal election around the corner next year sometime. And of course, everything will be put on hold. So, you know, there'll be another couple more years before it goes any further. If Labor was to get in. Do you think that actually, you know, kickstart the whole project?

CHISHOLM: Well that's something that Labor are going to have answer those questions between now and the election. I certainly, I don't think it is any surprise to you and wouldn't be surprise to listeners that myself and Matt Burnett are advocating strongly for this link to be considered. So we've got work to do on that inside the Labor Party, but the good thing we have in Anthony Albanese as our Federal Labor leader, he understands Inland Rail well, understands Regional Queensland well. So, I think that we can have a really good conversation with Anthony Albanese as leader. I am confident he understands the benefits and what this would mean for Central Queensland, not just Gladstone.


HOST: Just open up the whole entire region, you know, ringing a ding ding jobs and money. Here we go.


CHISHOLM: Yeah, and that is the case, and that is what was interesting the Mayor Ferrier from Banana and you sort of think well all Banana is going to have, is these trains running through the Shire, but he talks about mung beans and the export opportunities and how they have to go down to Brisbane now which takes longer. So you know the costs are cheaper and that they will be able export them quicker, so there is just so many things to this, let alone Gladstone, but through surrounding areas the link the intermodal in Emerald like it's just, and that's an absolute bonanza and is exciting. And that's why I think that there is such a compelling case and I honestly believe that there needs to (inaudible) and days like that yesterday in Gladstone only add to that and I think give locals a sense that this is being seriously considered.


HOST: Well, Senator Anthony Chisholm thanks very much for coming into Gladstone, getting your ears around all the information. It's time to go home to Canberra and banging your fist on the table. We want action. We want it now. I wish you all the best of luck. Okay.


CHISHOLM: Thanks Michael and go Queensland tonight.


HOST: Yes indeed, Senator Anthony Chisholm.