NSW Farmers offers assistance to government to get inland rail right 

More than 200 people impacted by the proposed inland rail gathered in Gilgandra yesterday to share their concerns with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, at a community town hall meeting.

NSW Farmers inland rail taskforce chair, Adrian Lyons, summed up the mood of the community meeting by offering to work with the government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation to help progress the project to reality, subject to more information and verification of the correct route.

“At the end of yesterday’s meeting, I offered, on behalf of NSW Farmers, to work with Mr McCormack, the ARTC and the wider government to build confidence around this project and ensure it delivers for agriculture and regional New South Wales.  There was nothing said at yesterday’s meeting that NSW Farmers has not been outlining for more than 12 months – it remains the case that the community has deep reservations about inland rail,” Mr Lyons said.  

“The community asked the Deputy Prime Minister whether the government would consider modest adjustments to study areas if the community can demonstrate that a superior outcome can be delivered for landowners and the rail’s service offering.  NSW Farmers would like to work with the Government to manage these issues and act as an honest broker between the landowners and the ARTC.”

“Further, the community aired its belief that a short, independent inquiry into the selection of the preferred corridor would give them maximum confidence that all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed with respect to the scoping of the project.”

“It is fair to say that the community, from as far south as Illabo and Junee through Narromine, Narrabri, North Star and into southern Queensland, remains deeply unimpressed by the way this project has been managed – people from all of these communities, and many others, travelled to Gilgandra yesterday, a demonstration of their concern with the project’s delivery to date.”

Mr Lyons said NSW Farmers continued to support inland rail but we have to get it right.

“On the back of the meeting, NSW Farmers’ president James Jackson and I have today written to the Deputy Prime Minister formally offering our assistance to work with the Government to get this project right.  We have also requested the Deputy Prime Minister consider, consistent with the offer given at the meeting by inland rail CEO Richard Wankmuller, to consider modest adjustments to current study corridors where the local community believes a superior outcome can be delivered.”

“Local country people are passionate about their communities.  They know their country well and want to work with authorities to ensure this project stands the test of time.  By working together we can achieve the outcome desired and in a way that benefits the community. 

“This railway is a significant investment in regional New South Wales.  It behoves all of us to ensure we invest taxpayers’ funds as wisely as possible – without community support for this long-overdue project, it risks being derailed before it gets going,” Mr Lyons said.

Date: Friday 23 November 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690