THE green light has finally been given to a long awaited independent review aimed at determining the most appropriate path of Queensland’s Inland Rail route linking Yelarbon, east of Goondiwindi, to Gowrie, near Toowoomba.
Highly regarded former Queensland Transport director-general Bruce Wilson AM was this morning named by federal infrastructure minister Darren Chester as chair of the independent review panel.
The panel has been tasked with “providing an independent assessment of each of the proposed routes in light of technical, engineering and economic principles to ensure that the key $10 billion infrastructure spend meets community expectations both now and into the future.”
Federal member of Maranoa, David Littleproud, said the review was the result of an obvious and concerning lack of engagement with landholders.
The issue came to a head at an emergency meeting in Warwick in early October where Inland Rail builder Australian Rail Track Corporation was reprimanded by Minister Chester for its handling of the project.
“The review’s terms of reference will require the final endorsement of any alignment to be determined on open and transparent evidence on a like for like basis so that the community can have confidence in the end result.” Mr Littleproud said.
“I have no doubt that this transparent and open review process will not only restore community confidence in this vital project but ultimately serve to expedite decisions on the Inland Rail’s future in Queensland. This project is extremely important as it will unlock more than $22.5b of direct and indirect benefits for Australia and I believe that this will be particularly true for agricultural communities in Queensland looking to access new markets.
“Inland Rail is part of a broader Governmental strategy to improve the expected capacity of our national freight network from Melbourne to Brisbane before 2050 and given it is our only shot at this, I am glad we now have this opportunity to get it 100 percent right.”
Mr Wilson retired from government in 2011 after serving both sides of government twice. He was awarded an AM for "services to transport planning, infrastructure development and reform, and land management policy".