SENATE candidate Campbell Newman says he will 'supercharge regional economy' by sending Inland Rail directly to Gladstone instead of Brisbane, and building the long promised Nathan Dam.
The former LNP Queensland premier and now lead Senate candidate for the Liberal Democrats said the plan would create new high value agriculture opportunities, open up new resource projects and deliver a more cost-effective pathway to port for exporters.
Mr Newman said Toowoomba would become a major freight hub under the Liberal Democrat plan, which would avoid tracking Inland Rail across the agriculturally important Condamine River floodplain.
Instead Inland Rail would be routed on former rail corridors and power line easements from Goondiwindi through Moonie, Miles, Wandoan and into the Southern reaches of the Central Highlands and then into Gladstone.
Charlton farmer Tim Durre said he welcomed any plan which minimised the impact on Inland Rail on prime farm land.
"There are obviously better options than sending Inland Rail across irreplaceable farm land," Mr Durre said.
"Sending the rail directly north to the deep water port at Gladstone is one of them."
Millmerran Rail Group chairman Wes Judd said Mr Newman's announcement on Inland Rail showed "he was listening".
"Queensland farmers and exporters deserve an Inland Rail project that delivers the best outcomes," Mr Newman said.
"The Liberal Democrats have listened to the community and support the Inland Rail project terminating at Toowoomba and not continuing to Brisbane.
"This decision will see Toowoomba become the freight hub for south east Queensland, creating jobs and securing the economic future of local communities."
Mr Newman said the savings from not building the line through urban Brisbane would be used to extend Inland Rail to the Port of Gladstone.
"The economic benefits in building an Inland Rail line to Gladstone are massive for Queensland," Mr Newman said.
The economic benefits in building an Inland Rail line to Gladstone are massive for Queensland.- Campbell Newman
"Much larger container ships can access the Port of Gladstone compared to Brisbane, which saves steaming time to Melbourne and Sydney."
"This route gives Inland Rail the opportunity to carry significantly higher volumes of products including agriculture and resource commodities," Mr Newman said.
"More importantly, this major infrastructure will open up areas for high value agricultural production and new resource projects.
Mr Newman's running mate Tegan Grainger said the eastern Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley would have access to the Inland Rail without highly productive and environmentally sensitive land being impacted by the new rail line.
In addition, the alternative route will negate the stupendously high cost of drilling a low gradient tunnel through the Toowoomba Range, she said.
The Liberal Democrats have backed the construction of the Nathan Dam to provide new high value agriculture opportunities and create new resource projects.
Mr Newman said community leaders, business leaders and regional councils had , all clearly expressed a desperate need for major water infrastructure to jump-start and sustain future growth.
"It's time to get Nathan Dam built," Mr Newman said.
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