Could Labor get inland rail on the right track?
NSW Farmers welcomes Federal Labor’s recognition of the concerns of regional Australians about the inland rail project and their commitment to conduct an independent inquiry into this important piece of infrastructure.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said like Labor, NSW Farmers supports the inland rail project, but the methodology of route selection and community concerns about the alignment and the project's ability to deliver for regional communities deserved thorough analysis.
“NSW Farmers has been calling for the Australian Government to commission an independent, open and transparent inquiry into inland rail for more than year. At every turn, the Coalition Government has refused to conduct an inquiry, preferring to press ahead in the face of deepening community opposition to the project,” Mr Jackson said.
“Labor’s announcement today provides regional communities affected by the inland rail with a real choice.”
“Earlier this year, we wrote to every Federal politician currently representing New South Wales, calling upon them to support our call for an inquiry. Only one responded – Barnaby Joyce simply told us he would refer our concerns to the Deputy Prime Minister. Today’s announcement, however, demonstrates a clear difference between the major parties on this important issue.”
NSW Farmers’ Inland Rail Taskforce Chair, Adrian Lyons, said communities across western New South Wales deserved answers, and to be treated with respect.
“An inquiry will give communities impacted by the railway the opportunity be heard – something that they have been denied for far too long under the present government. This project is simply too important for the concerns of impacted landowners and communities to be ignored”, Mr Lyons said.
“I want to acknowledge the personal commitment from Anthony Albanese that, should he be the Minister responsible after the election, he will visit the impacted communities and hear first-hand the concerns of local residents about the presently preferred route.”
Mr Jackson and Mr Lyons called on the Coalition to drop their hardline opposition, listen to the people of western New South Wales and make an independent inquiry a bipartisan investigation.
“We call on the Coalition to commit to matching Labor’s commitment to conduct an independent, open and transparent inquiry into inland rail. If there is nothing to hide about the route selection, project financing and other associated matters, what harm is there in giving the impacted communities a chance to have their say before it is too late?”
“The ball is now in the Coalition’s court – will they back regional communities with an inquiry or continue to ignore their concerns?” Mr Lyons said.
Date: 23 April 2019
Media Contact: Michael Burt | 0428 228 988