Regional developers call for JobMaker tick on inland rail
AS THE owner of tourism and hospitality businesses in both Rockhampton and Gladstone - including the Edge and Empire apartments on the Fitzroy River - Grant Cassidy is committed to opening the region up for investment.
In his capacity as the chair of the local Regional Development Australia chapter, he is pushing for the extension of an inland rail route all the way from Toowoomba to Gladstone, to meet up with a transport corridor that extends as far south as Melbourne.
"The project will provide essential economic benefits to regional private industries and for the State and Federal Governments to rebuild Australia's economy," he said.
The rail would link Central Queensland's coal, bulk freight and containerised agricultural exporters to a "logical route" which overcomes the problems of getting inland rail to the Port of Brisbane.
It is reported the Prime Minister will announce further funding for the Brisbane-Melbourne link as part of the JobMaker plan to boost employment on the way out of the economic crisis COVID-19 has created.
It is among $1.5 billion worth of "shovel ready" projects, including an undersea electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria, which may be unveiled in the JobMaker announcement today.
In its "wishlist" for a green light on the inland rail project, Regional Development Australia calls for the Surat Basin Coal Mine to be opened up, via a line from Toowoomba north to Wandoan to join the existing line at Moura.
"Miners have advised that freighting their product 460km on rail to the Port of Gladstone is commercially viable," an RDACWQ spokesperson said.
"Failure to build this rail link would strand their mining assets."
Expanding container and bulk handling facilities into the Port of Gladstone by 150 million tonnes per annum would reportedly save northern ports, such as Singapore, days in travel time, unloading at Gladstone and on-forwarding by inland rail.
"In 2017 when the prefeasibility study for this link was completed, several significant factors were not considered, including coal revenue from opening up the Surat Basin, agricultural revenue benefits, increased container traffic, savings in shipping costs and comparable ease of construction," Mr Cassidy said.
RDACWQ director Antony Gambling said there had been "overwhelming" support for the inland rail project, and his organisation was calling for the government to start the wheels rolling this afternoon.
"Not only will opening up this corridor create unprecedented opportunities for the region, it is also ready to start tomorrow as the corridor is gazetted and the Economic Impact Study complete."