INLAND RAIL: MP says farmers to benefit from Gladstone plan
Key advantages of the proposal to bring the Inland Rail project to Gladstone are being overlooked by the Federal Government, according to a local MP.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said agriculture producers stood to benefit considerably if they were able to export product from the city's port.
Its northern position is an advantage for accessing Asian markets, and producers in Victoria and New South Wales as well as Queensland could take advantage.
Mr Butcher also noted the costs and challenges associated with building infrastructure in suburban Brisbane to deliver goods to the port.
He said Gladstone's port was a public asset, meaning revenue would flow back to the state as opposed to a private operator.
It is a similar argument to that put forward by Regional Development Australia Central and Western Queensland.
Director Tony Gambling said that building the "simpler" Gladstone link first would allow revenue to flow sooner while the challenges of the Brisbane connection were tackled.
"While these significant and potentially unsolvable issues are being resolved, the inland rail link will be built to connect Sydney and Melbourne to Toowoomba, where a new intermodal hub (rail, road and air) can be established," he said.
"A rail connection from Toowoomba to the Port of Gladstone could be constructed for approximately half of the purported costs of the link from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane."
Mr Gambling said ship owners with vessels travelling between Australia and ports in Asia would save money with reduced travel time and there would be reduced costs for regional agricultural and mining exporters who could get containerised and bulk product to port easily.
Mr Butcher did not hold out hope for a change of heart from the Federal Government.
"I think they've got it set and that's what they've always wanted," he said
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has confirmed the Inland Rail project will run from Melbourne to Brisbane.
"The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail is a strategic infrastructure solution to Australia's growing freight challenge. As one of the busiest freight corridors in the nation, demand for freight transport along the Melbourne to Brisbane corridor is expected to grow substantially," Mr McCormack said.
The Deputy Prime Minister is standing behind a prefeasibility study that said an extension to Gladstone is not economically feasible.