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Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
COTTON Australia CEO Adam Kay has backed the proposed Brisbane to Melbourne inland railway, saying the critical government infrastructure investment could help boost cotton exports into key Asian markets, especially China.
Mr Kay said Australia had a proven global reputation for producing high quality cotton products, but the prospect of moving cotton freight into export markets faster through more efficient port access transport routes ensured a double-edged selling point for current trade negotiations with China.
“We’re big supporters of the inland rail because it can help link growers with the ports of Brisbane and Sydney far more efficiently,” he said.
“A lot of cotton goes out of Goondiwindi and the Namoi Valley but it doesn’t matter which port it goes to.
“We need efficient transport systems to move our cotton crop to port faster and into export markets and one of our key selling points, apart from quality, is faster shipping times into Asia.”
Australia produces about 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of cotton per year - grown mostly in the western regions of NSW and Queensland - with about 80 per cent exported from the Sydney and Brisbane ports.
About 99pc of that tonnage is exported overseas with China accounting for 70pc of that volume, representing approximately 15pc of the nation’s total cotton imports.
Mr Kay said an infrastructure network that moved product from inland NSW and Queensland to port more efficiently would only serve to strengthen trade relations.
“It would help to drive efficiencies for everyone, especially when one of your key selling points, on top of our product quality, is proximity to market,” he said.
Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss has said the Melbourne-to-Brisbane inland rail is the government’s “priority new rail freight project” and one of Australia’s most important and ambitious long-term infrastructure projects.
The government has committed $300 million in a first stage investment for the railway that’s been reported to measure 1800 kilometres and cost an estimated $5 billion to build over 10 years.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister John Anderson is currently chairing an implementation group overseeing project staging options and costs, which Mr Truss says could see construction activities potentially starting later this year.
This article first appeared on www.theland.com.au
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