ALC, ARA call for Budget support for Inland Rail

Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has spoken out ahead of the release of the 2017/18 Federal Budget, noting that Budget support is the “best chance” the Inland Rail project has of moving into the construction phase.
“It is already clear that infrastructure development will be a central theme in this year’s document,” Kilgariff said.
“This project is a long-held priority for ALC, as it is for many in the freight and logistics industry. That’s why it was a core focus of ALC’s pre-Budget submission.”
Danny Broad, CEO, Australasian Railway Association (ARA), also stressed the need for Inland Rail investment. “The ARA outlined in its pre-budget submission that a significant financial commitment is needed in order to boost rail efficiency and urban liveability,” Broad said.
“The ARA has indicated that a firm commitment by the Commonwealth to vital infrastructure, such as Inland Rail and rail to ports is necessary.
“Inland Rail will increase Australia’s GDP by $16 billion. It is profitable from day one – for every $1 the Commonwealth invests there is a return of $2.60 to our economy. Inland Rail will inject 16,000 jobs at its peak, retaining 700 jobs every year over the life of the project. Inland Rail will reduce congestion on our roads with fewer heavy vehicle movements and improve our nation’s environmental sustainability.”
“An ongoing commitment to increasing urban and regional rail projects is also necessary. The ARA looks to the Commonwealth Government to work with State and Territory Governments as partners in investing into rail. Ongoing financial support needs to be provided to enhance our liveability in our cities and growth corridors.
“We urge the Commonwealth Government to also take action on road pricing. The Commonwealth needs to act on mass-distance-location charging mechanisms for heavy vehicles along major interstate routes which compete with rail. The playing field on this issue has been unequal for far too long. Options for independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges need to be commenced, including trial elements of heavy vehicle road reform.
The Inland Rail project is expected to receive an allocation of $1 billion in the Federal Budget.
Kilgariff also said that funding to equip authorities such as Infrastructure Australia (IA) with the resources necessary to undertake their core functions will help the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“IA is particularly important in this regard, as its professional and apolitical approach helps to ensure that infrastructure development remains subject to rigorous, evidence-based assessments, and that projects ultimately deliver the best economic and social outcomes for the community,” he said.
“As in previous years, ALC will be closely monitoring what emerges on Budget Night, and will provide commentary regarding its impact on the freight and logistics industry.”
The 2017/18 Federal Budget will be announced on the evening on Tuesday 9 May, 2017.

Inland Rail information centre opens in QLD

An information centre to provide information on the development of Inland Rail– Australia’s largest infrastructure project – and to allow people to give feedback has been opened in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Inland Rail – the planned, new 1,700km freight rail line –will transform the national freight rail network, enabling freight to be delivered from Melbourne to Brisbane, via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, in less than 24 hours.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, commented on the significance of the project, both now and in future, at the opening of the information centre.
“We believe in the future of regional Australia, and the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project will deliver benefits to all the communities it touches today, and in 100 years from now,” he said. “This Toowoomba office is an Australia-first, as well as being a useful resource for local residents – it’s a central spot to get information and advice, give feedback and talk face to face with the people delivering this nationally important project.
“Choosing Toowoomba as a base for Inland Rail in Queensland makes perfect sense. It is a major regional city and the gateway to the Darling Downs.
“Local people can now come and see for themselves what Inland Rail will mean for the region and Australia.”
Queensland will be the biggest state beneficiary of Inland Rail, with the benefit to Gross State Product modelled at $7.3 billion during construction and the first 50 years of its operation.

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