ABC CAPRICORNIA BREAKFAST WITH PAUL CULLIVER
WEDNESDAY, 9 June 2021
SUBJECT: INLAND RAIL
PAUL CULLIVER, HOST: Yesterday, for an inquiry into Inland Rail and exactly where it should terminate. Senator Anthony Chisholm is with the Labor Party, Senator for Queensland and well was in Gladstone yesterday, Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Good morning Paul, good to be with you again.
HOST: So, you've held this Inland Rail hearing in Gladstone and talk me through what did you learn?
CHISHOLM: Well it was an opportunity for some of the proponents of Inland Rail coming to Gladstone to meet with the committee and put forward their case. As you know they have been doing a lot of work over the last couple of months, and I get a sense that they have been really building momentum about the case for Gladstone. So we heard from Mr Abbott, who's been at the forefront of this, but we also heard from a couple of the Mayors in Matt Burnett the Mayor for Gladstone and Mayor Nev Ferrier the Mayor of Banana as well. And it was just good to hear from those local mayors about what this means and particularly from Nev Ferrier who, even though the proposed route would pass through Banana Shire, he talks about the export opportunities, mung beans is a big crop for his patch and so it just gives you a real sense of the economic opportunity, it wouldn't just be the end where the port would be, it would be all through the region, and that's great for central Queensland.
HOST: Are you trying to use this as a wedge issue to lead into the Federal Election?
CHISHOLM: No, not at all. To be honest, in January, we had a hearing in Brisbane and Mr Abbott came along to give evidence to that. And he put Gladstone on the radar for me and then the further I looked at it, the more compelling the case became. And, when you look at the well identified problems of the Inland Rail route from the border into Southeast Queensland, it made sense for Gladstone to be considered. So, I've certainly been doing it because I've been reading the reports, I've looked at the evidence and I think that there is a mounting case for Gladstone to be considered. But the interesting thing from yesterday, Paul, is that it doesn't have to be an either or, it's not goes to Brisbane or it goes to Gladstone, the evidence from Mr Abbott yesterday was that Gladstone does stack up on its own two feet and potentially can be done with private capital as well so that means potentially not looking for any government money to actually complete this.
HOST: Are we going to see an election campaign where Labor says LNP doesn't want the Inland Rail to come to Gladstone, but we do, vote for us?
CHISHOLM: Well that's something that the Labor Party will have to consider, I've certainly been mounting the case internally, Mayor Burnett who is also the Labor candidate for Flynn is someone who's been passionate about the economic opportunity and the job opportunities that the Inland Rail would bring so he's certainly been talking Anthony Albanese the Federal Labor Leader and Catherine King our Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister. So we're certainly having those discussions internally in terms of what the Labor Party's position will be before the election. And in terms of what the LNP do , I can't answer that Paul, but I do know that they've been in government now for a long time and, despite what some of the local members have been saying I haven't seen any evidence that they've actually changed position on this issue.
HOST: Talk to me about this private funding like so, what is the idea of the Federal Government wouldn't stump up the money, private sector board how would that actually work to get it done?
CHISHOLM: Well, basically the evidence that we heard from Mr Abbott yesterday who is now spearheading a private consortium to get this rail link done. Basically, his evidence was that all we would need is for government to get out of the road basically and we can do. So, they’re not looking for government help they're basically just looking for governments get out of the road and say we won’t stop this from happening. And I think it's interesting that when you consider the Gladstone link as opposed to coming into Brisbane. There's also going to be private components of the rail link from the Border into Brisbane, particularly from Toowoomba down the range into Ebenezer is going to be done by a PPP, so its not as if Inland Rail as it is currently proposed does not involve private money at the moment. That's on top of the cost already blowing out, so I, you know in a way that it isn't that different to what is being proposed for elements of the Inland Rail into Acacia Ridge and Brisbane at the moment.
HOST: Does that still need Federal Government approval to happen?
CHISHOLM: Not in the sense that they, they've already put out a proposal for a PPP for that part of the route. I think the bigger question marks about southeast Queensland is how the trains would get from Acacia Ridge to the port. And that's one that hasn't been answered and that's obviously causing concerns for many people on the south side of Brisbane. About potentially the additional truck movements that would happen and it's a real contrast between what I think is a welcoming community in Central Queensland. When there is strong opposition to the proposal through many parts of Southeast Queensland.
HOST: So what happens next?
CHISHOLM: Well the Inland Rail inquiry is due to wrap up in August. So that will obviously be an opportunity for a really thorough report to be proposed and the proposed links Gladstone will take part of that, but also there will obviously be recommendations about other elements of Inland Rail and my understanding is there's many other challenges, particularly through Victoria and regional Victoria as well, some of the towns haven’t been adequately consulted. And then obviously this question for the Labor Party and what our position will be on the proposed link to Gladstone and that’s something that we've got to work through, but I can assure you and your listeners that there's a strong advocate for Gladstone in myself and also particularly in Matt Burnett our candidate for Flynn and Russell Robertson, also, our candidate for Capricornia as someone who I met with and he understands the potential benefits for his region as well. So we'll be out there continuing to advocate strongly, but also listening to local residents about what this means and the potential economic opportunities for all through Central Queensland region.
HOST: Anthony Chisholm, Senator. Thanks for your time.
CHISHOLM: Thanks Paul, good to be with you.