REVIVAL: MP Brendan O'Connor and dismissed Aurizon apprentices in 2017.
REVIVAL: MP Brendan O'Connor and dismissed Aurizon apprentices in 2017. Chris Ison ROK190717caurizon4

Labor to turn failed rail precinct to industrial super hub

TWO YEARS of widespread community uncertainty over the future of Aurizon's Rockhampton railway precinct has ended today, as Labor announced it would foot the bill for a $15 million overhaul.

The plan was delivered by Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson, Labor MP Brendan O'Connor with a commitment from Labor leader Bill Shorten.

The announcement was for a planned acquisition of the rail-yards and would see the area transformed into a "major regional manufacturing jobs precinct”.

"A Shorten Labor Government will invest up to $15 million to restore the Rockhampton railway workshops into a major regional manufacturing jobs precinct,” Mr Shorten said.

"These iconic railway workshops remain one of Rockhampton's prime pieces of industrial land able to support future manufacturing jobs.”

Mr Shorten said the announcement came as part of a broader ALP commitment to apply scrutiny to multinational companies.

"We will work with all levels of government to acquire the land from Aurizon and oversee its master planning to support new, secure blue-collar jobs for the future,” Mr Shorten said.

Adding to the acquisition of the railway workshop site, Labor would work with all levels of government, industry, and the unions to form a dedicated working group to develop and drive the plan that would attract new blue-collar jobs and industries to the region.

Labor hoped the acquired precinct would attract a raft on new industry to the region, as well as fostering industries already established including defence and mining.

"There is no reason why Rockhampton cannot leverage more from its significant involvement with major domestic and international military exercises at Shoalwater Bay,” Mr Shorten said.

"Central Queensland is home to some of the best coal in the world, including metallurgical coal.

"Demand for this sort of coal will continue to increase with the growth in Asia, including the middle class in India, which is set to grow rapidly from up to 80 million today to 580 million people by 2025.

"Rockhampton is well positioned to become the heart of local mining maintenance and manufacturing.”

Labor had also identified emerging industries the proposed precinct could potentially foster, including hydrogen fuelled transport and renewables.

"Rockhampton is well placed to lead on the manufacturing of hydrogen-fuelled transport, including cars, buses and trains,” Mr Shorten said.

"Queensland has experienced a dramatic expansion of renewable energy project development in recent years.

"Queensland has one of the world's highest levels of solar exposure, with an average of 20 megajoules per square metre, making it the ideal location for solar energy generation.”

The acquisition could only take place if the occupant, Aurizon, agrees to sell the land, but after displacing 180 workers last year, Mr Shorten had expectations of the company.

"Federal Labor expects multinational Aurizon to come to the table and accept a fair price for this land without delay,” he said.

"It is vital that this land be put to use supporting a local economy which has done so much to build the multinational company and its profits.”

Aurizon previously told The Morning Bulletin the company was actively seeking expressions of interest for the site and was open to a range of potential occupants.

Labor, if elected, would work with the State Government to link the manufacturing precinct to the $10 million manufacturing hub being developed with CQUniversity.

The site is currently listed under Knight Frank Rockhampton.

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