13 September, 2021
Inland Rail controversy continues
It was announced late last week that a contract has been signed to begin work on the Border to Gowrie section of the Inland Rail, and the news has been met with mixed responses from both politicians and residents alike.
Federal Member for Groom Garth Hamilton said the confirmation of the contract was a great win for Toowoomba, and the route is now set in stone, despite residents around Pittsworth and Millmerran continuing to oppose the current route selection.
“This is not a difficult subject, we’ve put man on the moon,” Mr Hamilton said.
“The route has been selected and is now settled.
“From the Prime Minister, to the Deputy Prime Minister, to the Cabinet and myself, there is 100 per cent support for this route.
“I can’t be more clear on this point, we have taken a huge step forward on construction and delivery and a key part of the next stage is working with locals to get the best possible outcomes.”
Mr Hamilton said the feedback he has received since the signing of the contract has been excellent.
“Overwhelmingly amongst farmers this is seen as a positive thing,” he claimed.
“This announcement was a huge step forward and weight off people’s shoulders.”
RAIL GROUP REACTION
However, the response from landholders and farmers between Pittsworth and Millmerran following the signing of the contract says otherwise, with Millmerran Rail Group Chairman Wes Judd saying Mr Hamilton has forgotten about his constituents outside of Toowoomba City.
“I think that Garth Hamilton should get out and talk to landholders in his electorate,” Mr Judd said.
“They’re trying to make out to the public that it’s all ‘done and dusted’, but that won’t wash.
“Quite frankly people expect more of their politicians than a statement like that.
“They think they’ve got the line locked in.
“The line’s not locked in until the umpire says it is.”
Mr Judd said he believes the route selection was purely a political decision, and still remains that way.
“It’s disgraceful politics, and supposedly what for? Jobs and business?
“They’re not concerned about the jobs already here that have been established for years.”
Mr Judd said the Millmerran Rail Group will continue to keep the pressure on politically to get the route shifted.
“We’ve got no issue with the Inland Rail or how they go about building it, it’s about where the route is situated that is our contention,” he said.
“They can appoint contractors and do whatever they need to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that this route is in the wrong place.”
STATE MEMBER AT ODDS WITH HAMILTON
Member for Southern Downs James Lister reinforced Mr Judd’s remarks, saying he also disagrees with the proposed route and will continue to support residents in his electorate until they are happy with the outcome.
“I have heard the public proclamations that the proposed route for Inland Rail through my electorate is ‘done and dusted’, but nobody has consulted me, and I respectfully disagree,” Mr Lister said.
“The EIS is yet to be approved by the Queensland Coordinator-General, who is an independent officer.
“In the past month I have met with her to express my concerns about the proposed alignment through my electorate, and I have more recently written to her to highlight the significant problems which the recent senate report highlighted.
“The process used to select the proposed alignment from Inglewood to the North Branch of the Condamine River relied on incorrect data regarding the cost and complexity of crossing the Condamine Floodplain.
“On that basis, the present route proposal, particularly between Inglewood and Pampas, lacks legitimacy and community acceptance.
“That matters to me as our local MP.
“I have a sworn duty to faithfully represent my constituents on this matter, and between Inglewood and Pampas the proposed route is just completely friendless.
“It slices through prime agricultural land and threatens very significant investments in intensive egg and pork production.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has now signed an agreement with a Brisbane-based joint venture for the civil works component of the project.