Rail project side­tracked Fury as Mount Isa- Townsville link over­looked

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

T OWNSVI L L E E n t e r p r i s e chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan has slammed the Fed­eral Govern­ment after it was re­vealed the Mount Isa to Townsville rail cor­ri­dor is only a “medium- term” pri­or­ity in an in­fra­struc­ture re­port.

In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia’s lat­est In­fra­struc­ture Pri­or­ity List, re­leased on Mon­day, showed the project was in the “busi­ness case de­vel­op­ment” stage and given the low­est rank of “pri­or­ity ini­tia­tive”.

High­est- pri­or­ity projects in­cluded trans­port projects in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne and mo­tor­way works near Bris­bane.

The Mount Isa project has pre­vi­ously been cited as cru­cial to Townsville, as it would in­crease the speed of trains and de­liver ef­fi­ciency to in­dus­try.

Ms O’Cal­laghan said the list con­tra­dicted the Govern­ment’s Northern Aus­tralia Agenda.

“This agenda is all about open­ing up in­fra­struc­ture in the North, so it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see only five pri­or­ity projects iden­ti­fied in Northern Aus­tralia out of 100,” she said.

“Fur­ther­more, there is a to­tal of 18 pri­or­ity projects listed in the plan for the whole of Queens­land, yet only two of these are lo­cated in North Queens­land. The rest are in the south­east cor­ner.”

Ms O’Cal­laghan said re­gional in­fra­struc­ture was criti- cal as most of Aus­tralia’s key bulk com­mod­ity ex­ports were shipped from re­gional ports.

“The Mount Isa to Townsville rail cor­ri­dor up­grade will de­liver ef­fi­ciency to in­dus­try, in­creased ca­pac­ity to Port of Townsville, amenity to the com­mu­nity, construction and em­ploy­ment within the re­gion,” she said. “It is the es­sen­tial next step in the sup­ply chain which con­nects one of the world’s rich­est min­er­als prov­inces with its global mar­ket.

“Con­sid­er­ing the MITEZ re­gion gen­er­ates over $ 16 bil­lion of GRP an­nu­ally, the rail up­grade must be treated as a project of na­tional im­por­tance.”

A Depart­ment of In­fra­struc­ture and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment spokesman said the Govern­ment was sup­port­ing the state’s work on a busi­ness case for the Townsville Eastern Ac­cess Rail Cor­ri­dor.

“This ( TEARC) is a key com­po­nent of the Mount IsaTownsville rail cor­ri­dor up- grade,” he said. “The Fed­eral Govern­ment has com­mit­ted $ 147 mil­lion for the Townsville Eastern Ac­cess Rail Cor­ri­dor.

“In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia is aware the line re­quires on­go­ing main­te­nance to en­sure it is able to meet ex­ist­ing de­mand.

“The ‘ medium term’ cat­e­gori­sa­tion refers to the ex­pected need for ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity on the line in the fu­ture, not the need for reg­u­lar main­te­nance.”

Townsville Port CEO Re­nee Crosby said the rail line was a crit­i­cal part of the sup­ply chain for the im­ports and ex­ports for the port.

Pic­ture: WESLEY MONTS

ON SONG: Townsville Rock Fest co- or­gan­iser Tammy Roberts ( right) with Tyson Wag­ner, Rus­sell Tozer and Rod Townsend.

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