May 7, 2016

Inland rail still on the slow track

The Turnbull Government’s $580 million plan to invest in the Inland Rail project from Brisbane to Melbourne represents a clear admission that it misled Australian voters in 2013 when promising to “fast track’’ this important project.

Since taking office, the Coalition has failed to invest a single dollar into Inland Rail – a project that would dramatically improve the movement of freight through the heartland of Australia’s agricultural industry.

While the Budget’s allocation is welcome, people should believe it when they see it, given that the Coalition has run dead on Inland Rail during its first term in office, breaching its own election promise.

In the 2011 Budget, the former Labor Government allocated $300 million to advance Inland Rail.

We also invested $600 million upgrading parts of existing rail lines that will be part of the project.

The Coalition’s inability to take the project further during the current electoral term has angered rural organisations, which took the 2013 fast-track promise seriously.

Even former Nationals Leader John Anderson, hired by the Government to conduct an implementation plan for the project, is concerned, reportedly telling the ABC last month that if the Government was not prepared to invest at least $1 billion into Inland Rail in this Budget, it should give up on the project.

Mr Anderson set the bar, and the Government has fallen well below expectations.