News and op-eds

Gladstone Observer: Inland rail ‘a dog of a project’: Senator Chisholm

February 12, 2021

Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm has labelled the Morrison Government's inland rail plans "a dog of a project" as the train line is proposed to end at Brisbane and not extend to Gladstone.

Senator Chisholm was in Gladstone this week for a round table discussion on inland rail which included Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher, Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett and other local groups.

After the meeting, Senator Chisholm told The Observer there were a number of issues with the project.

"Anyone who has looked into the route that is currently proposed for Inland Rail knows there are a lot of significant issues with it," he said.

"As I said earlier this week, it's a dog of a project - and there have been many people from Central Queensland calling for it to come to Gladstone."

The Australian Rail Track Corporation describes the project as "a fast freight backbone that will transform how we move goods around Australia, generating opportunities for our regions and our economy, now and well into the future.'

"Inland Rail is a 1700km freight rail line that will connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland," the ARTC says.

Despite his feelings, Senator Chisholm said it was great to hear the thoughts of interested parties at the meeting.

"It was great to be in Gladstone on Wednesday to be briefed by John Abbott the CQU chancellor as well as Mayor Burnett, representatives from the Gladstone Port, Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher and other local economic groups about the opportunities that could come from extending the Inland Rail to Gladstone rather than to Brisbane," he said.

"The proposal to extend it to Gladstone is an interesting one and would bring many benefits. "It would help alleviate some of the problems in southern Queensland with the current route while also helping to support the Gladstone Port's long-term growth and the local economy."

"But the benefits wouldn't stop there - it could also help support the growth of other industries across Central Queensland, including manufacturing, by opening up new markets.

"So it's something that the whole of CQ could potentially benefit from."

Senator Chisholm said he gathered some valuable information from the meeting.

"Wednesday's meeting was very valuable, and it was good to be able to sit down with people from on the ground about these opportunities, and I will continue to listen to opportunities that will help this project succeed," Senator Chisholm said.

"Federal Labor wants Inland Rail to succeed, Michael McCormack and the LNP need to fix inland rail or will be held accountable for it."

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the multi-billion dollar project would deliver a safer and more efficient Inland Rail while also backing thousands of extra jobs and billions in additional economic activity through major enhancements to the planning, design and delivery of Australia's largest freight infrastructure project.

Mr McCormack described the project as a jobs bonanza, saying the enhancements would lead to a safer and more efficient Inland Rail as well as deliver significant benefits for regional communities, businesses and jobs.

"It's already supporting thousands of jobs, has already started to generate billions in economic activity and will eventually lead to a boost of more than $18 billion Gross Domestic Product during construction and in the first 50 years of operation," the Deputy Prime Minister said.

"These enhancements will provide for greater local investment, mean Inland Rail will now support more than 21,500 jobs at the peak of construction and deliver an extra economic boost of $2 billion.

"These enhancements to the Inland Rail network will deliver more contracts for local businesses and more work for Australians at a time when we need them most.

"Inland Rail isn't just being built by the big companies and Tier 1 contractors - across Australia businesses of all sizes are tendering for work and benefiting from the construction of Inland Rail.

"This world-class freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will be the 'spine' of the national freight network, enabling travel between Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours, while connecting major ports and all mainland state capitals."

First published in the Gladstone Observer