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VICTORIAN Nationals leader Peter Walsh has demanded Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan specify when stage three of the Murray Basin Rail plan would start, and asked whether businesses would be compensated for delays.
He put Ms Allan under the spotlight during question time in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, and said she failed to answer his question on the matter last week.
It follows a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing last Tuesday, when Ms Allan was questioned about delays to the Manangatang and Sea Lake section, work on which was due to start in March.
She told the hearing “the project has had it scope changed” due to works on the Ballarat passenger rail line that would affect the basin rail plan.
But the answer didn’t satisfy Mr Walsh, who on Tuesday called for Ms Allan to specify a start date for the stage three works.
Ms Allan again outlined that she had been in talks with industry stakeholders and said they wanted to know how the Ballarat rail upgrades would intersect with the Murray Basin Rail line.
“She still hasn’t answered my question,” the Nationals leader said, before pressing Ms Allan to name a date.
“You have (previously) done over the taxi licensees ... will you apologise for this botched project?”
Ms Allan responded: “This, from the party who closed country rail?”
She then said the Opposition had previously “flogged off the rail network”.
Mr Walsh last week said industry stakeholders were being notified the work wouldn’t go ahead, and accused the State Government of being “city-centric”.
But Ms Allan said the Nationals were responsible for “lies” about work on the Murray Basin rail being halted, which she said she had to correct in Kerang recently.
“We are pushing on with this project,” she said.
The Rail Revival Alliance Victoria has slammed the State Government over the project and what it has called the “complete disaster” of the Maryborough to Ararat section.
It claimed construction went over $100 million, the line was unsafe, freight trains were reduced to 30km/h, and 40,000 tonnes of ballast was needed on the tracks.
The alliance’s Scott Ramsay said: “There has been an attempted political cover-up of the disastrous and incompetent management on the Maryborough to Ararat line.”
He said Ms Allan previously “fictitiously told the media the line had been constructed and was operational”.
For more local stories, pick up your copy of Wednesday's Sunraysia Daily, 6/6/2018. To subscribe to our Digital Edition, click here
This article first appeared on www.sunraysiadaily.com.au
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