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LANDHOLDERS on the Condamine Floodplain will be keen to impress on new Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack the importance of getting the Inland Rail project right, if it to cross some of Australia’s most important agricultural land.
Mr McCormack, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, is expected to meet with concerned landholders on the ground within the next two weeks.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) chairman Warren Truss, a former Nationals leader, is also expected to attend the meetings.
The invitation was extended to Mr McCormack after he assumed the infrastructure portfolio following the dumping of John McVeigh from federal cabinet by new Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Wes Judd, a spokesman for the affected Condamine Floodplain farmers on the 16km corridor, said landholders were waiting on a preliminary assessment of the proposed rail corridor.
“Until we see that engineering report ordered by the Senate, we don’t know what ARTC and the government are thinking,” Mr Judd said.
“What we do know is there is no way an embankment can be built on this floodplain without causing massive disruption to the farming systems here.
“If the inland rail is to come across the floodplain it will have to be on a bridge. That seems unlikely given the extreme cost.
“There are other alternatives and we will be making sure Mr McCormack know it.”
The Inland Rail project has now had four ministers overseeing the project since October 2016, when an emergency meeting was held in Warwick to get the $10 billion project back on track.
Mr McCormack’s leadership of the controversial project follows Darren Chester, Barnaby Joyce and John McVeigh, who all struggled with community reaction to the proposed infrastructure.
However, with a federal election unlikely to be held any later than May next year, there are an increasing number of indications the Queensland section of the Inland Rail project may never be built.
Labor government has already signaled the economically questionable trophy project championed by former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is unlikely to be a priority investment.
Member for Condamine, Pat Weir, said a major test for the resolve of government would be when, and if, the Palaszczuk government was willing to issue compulsory resumption notices for the rail corridor.
“The case must absolutely stack up or the community will not accept it,” Mr Weir said.
“Resumptions are always complex and government need to show a lot of compassion, not just for affected farmers, but the entire community.
“But until we know what is being planned we are all still in the dark.”
The proposed Inland Rail corridor is expected to be a key issue when the Palaszczuk government Cabinet meets in Toowoomba from September 24.
This article first appeared on www.begadistrictnews.com.au
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