One of the flagship announcements in this year’s Federal Budget for regional Australia was the funding commitment towards building the much discussed Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has advocated for improvements to the national freight rail network for a long time. The project is an important part of the solution to ensuring Australia has safe, sustainable and efficient capacity to move freight around the country.
The Federal Government, in particular the National Party, has been eager to present the $8.4 billion commitment to the project as a significant win for farmers and regional communities. Principally, QFF and its industry members totally agree. This once in a 100-year project will deliver sector wide benefits for agriculture as well as 16,000 jobs during construction and a projected $16 billion boost to the New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland economies over the next 60 years.
However, for a project of this significance it is important we have a long-term vision and get the Queensland corridor right. QFF is committed to working alongside the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the Federal Government to ensure consideration is given to the project’s impact on prime agricultural land and key flood plains so the rail link realises its intended goals. The preservation of agricultural land and the impacts of natural disasters on agriculture are both areas QFF has and continues to advocate strongly on. QFF is confident proper consideration of community, industry and environmental impacts will be undertaken before a decision is reached on the location. It is essential farmers and regional communities’ concerns are heard and where possible accommodated. A project of this scale will substantially change parts of regional Queensland so an appropriate consultation process is a must. – Stuart Armitage, QFF president