Feb 7, 2017

No more delay on High Speed Rail

Malcolm Turnbull must use the resumption of Parliament to take action on High Speed Rail and ensure no further delays on this critical project.

The Coalition should support my Private Member’s Bill, introduced in November last year, which would create a High Speed Rail Authority to start detailed planning work on a High Speed Rail line between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

I have now introduced this Bill on four occasions but the Coalition Government has taken no action to date on progressing High Speed Rail in Australia.

This is despite members of the Coalition expressing support for High Speed Rail over the last year.

This includes the Member for Bennelong, John Alexander, and former Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, who said Australia should take the opportunity now to build High Speed Rail while interest rates are low.

High Speed Rail would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours.

It would also turbo charge the economic development of the regional centres along its route, including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The former Labor Government conducted a feasibility study into the project which found it was viable, producing, for example, more than $2 in public benefit for every dollar invested in the Sydney-to-Melbourne corridor.

In response, we appointed an expert panel including former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Business Council of Australian chief executive Jennifer Westacott and the late Bryan Nye, of the Australasian Railways Association, to recommend practical measures to advance the project.

The panel recommended the creation of a delivery authority to work with the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory on detailed planning and corridor acquisition.

My Private Member’s Bill would establish that Authority.

During the recent federal election campaign, Labor announced we would create the Authority envisaged in this Bill and require it to move toward an Expressions of Interest process to capitalise on strong interest in the project from international railway companies.

I call on the Government to support my Private Member’s Bill so we can progress this important nation building project.