An independent inquiry into Inland Rail proposed by the Labor Opposition must not cause delays to the construction of this much-needed project, says the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).
“Bipartisan support for Inland Rail has been a key feature of the project, and it is crucial that be maintained throughout the next Parliament,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
The project will play an important role in boosting Australia’s export performance, he said.
While reaffirming its support for Inland Rail, the Federal Opposition says it will conduct an independent inquiry into the project if elected this month.
“Freight logistics operators and local communities are already making preparations for Inland Rail, and their investment decisions must be respected,” Mr Coningham said.
“The conduct of any proposed inquiry must not be allowed to slow the pace of construction on Inland Rail, which is already underway.”
Also, the proposed inquiry would be asked to examine possible port connections at either end of the Inland Rail route.
Substantial public investment
“ALC has consistently emphasised that finalising a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane as soon as possible will be essential to ensure full benefits can be derived from the substantial public investment being made in Inland Rail,” said Mr Coningham.
“We have also noted that there needs to be a focus on upgrading the current rail connection from Truganina to the Port of Melbourne, as well as on connections from Inland Rail to key NSW ports and intermodal terminals.
“However, in the event of a change of government, the proposed inquiry should not be a reason for any delay to overall construction of the Inland Rail project.”
Mr Coningham said more than 32 million tonnes of freight is expected to be moved along Australia’s east coast by 2030.
“We must find ways to do that which are safe, and which don’t add to road congestion and other existing bottlenecks in the freight network,” he said.
“Inland Rail is essential to achieving these goals – and will play an important role in boosting Australia’s export performance.”