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The Deputy Prime Minister says he wants to see more rail put down in Victoria, though stopped short of committing extra money to the Murray Basin Rail Project.
Michael McCormack visited Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange on Thursday afternoon alongside new Member for Mallee Anne Webster.
The National Party leader's comments came after the managing director of rail freight business Wimmera Container Lines, Geoff Smith, told the Mail-Times he was worried the approvals of larger and larger road trains would kill regional rail's business model.
"We want to see more rail put down," Mr McCormack said.
"I know the Victorian Government has not done well with the Murray Basin Rail Project, despite the fact we've put tens of million of dollars of commonwealth money into the project we're yet to see how that money would be spent.
The $440 million project involves converting hundreds of kilometres of freight railways between Mildura and Geelong so they can accommodate 21 tonne axle loading.
In June, the state government admitted it had spent most of the project's entire budget, halfway through its completion.
Mr McCormack said he would be meeting with Victoria's transport minister Jacinta Allan on Monday.
"In good faith I will work with her to see what we can do with the future," he said.
"I'll be weighing up my options after the meeting and seeing exactly how determined and committed the state government is. It is at the end of the day their responsibility.
"(Trucks and rail) can work in tandem. We're investing $9.3 billion in inland rail, but that's not going to be at the expense of road freight: Without trucks the nation stops."
In March, the federal government committed $1.49 million to help council pay to put a roof over the livestock exchange.
While there, Horsham Rural City Council strategic planning co-ordinator Justine Kingan showed Mr McCormack and Dr Webster the municipality's 20-year vision for the river and Horsham CBD.
On May 13, in a promise made five days before the 2019 Federal Election, Mr McCormack pledged $1.65 million to the project.
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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