Connecting on local government opportunities

Thursday 21 March 2019

Our population is concentrated along the coast, supported and enriched by inland communities at the heart of Australia’s agricultural production and resources. In South East Queensland, a region which covers 22,420 square kilometres and includes some of the best agricultural land in the nation, they understand first-hand the importance of transporting the food and fibre Australia produces to domestic and international communities.

But it is not only food and fibre that is transported across the nation— central to the way we live are the furniture and furnishings in our homes, the clothes we wear and the products we use — as well as the food in our fridges and on our barbeques.

Moving these goods to domestic and international markets underpins our economy and our individual lifestyles. Every day we consume, wear and use products and produce that have travelled hundreds and thousands of kilometres by road, rail, air and sea to reach our local supermarkets and shopping centres.

And as Australia’s population increases, so do the demands on our freight network.

Australia’s freight volumes are expected to double within 20 years and we must shift some of this freight from road to rail to reduce congestion on our highways and in our towns, avoid serious road accidents and reduce costs for consumers.

Inland Rail, a 1,700 km railway, will connect the north to south, Brisbane to Melbourne, in under 24 hours, transporting products across immense distances more quickly, in greater volumes and at a reduced cost.

Inland Rail and the opportunities such large-scale infrastructure delivers to regional communities can only be achieved by all levels of government working together to get it done. The department held a Local Government Forum in Gatton on 14 February 2019, providing tools and information to the Economic Development Managers along the Inland Rail alignment in Queensland.

Infrastructure projects like Inland Rail come along once-in-a-generation and we must make sure inland communities have the skills and expertise to take advantage of the employment and economic opportunities Inland Rail will deliver.

The Forum was an opportunity for councils to engage one-on-one with the Government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) about the impacts that this large-scale infrastructure project will have on their community and to hear first-hand about what ARTC and the Australian Government are doing to ensure the best possible railway is built.

The Government has committed to ongoing engagement and consultation with councils along the Inland Rail alignment in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

We must ensure that Inland Rail is delivering the best outcome for inland Australia, both through short-term benefits, such as jobs generated from construction, and long-term, sustainable economic growth for regions that is respectful of our community.