The Chronicle

Farmers reject deal


FARMER’S living along the Border to Gowrie Inland Rail Route have slammed a decision to award the civil engineerin­g contract to Brisbaneba­sed venture BHQ.

It has been tasked with building 160km of rail track from Yelarbon to Gowrie Junction – a task that is expected to employ more than 950 people.

Australian Rail Track Corporatio­n’s Inland Rail interim chief executive Rebecca Pickering said constructi­on would not start until statutory approvals have been received from the Queensland and Australian government­s.

“But the appointmen­t of a preferred proponent now tells local businesses to get Inland Rail ready,” she said.

The joint venture in charge of the works is made up of Bielby Holdings Pty Ltd, JF Hull Holdings Pty Ltd and QH & M Birt Pty Ltd.

The announceme­nt was met with criticism from Millmerran Rail Group.

It has been lobbying the Federal Government to change the route, citing the adverse impact it would have on the Condamine Flood Plain and the farmers that rely on it to feed their families.

Millmerran Rail Group Chairman Wes Judd said the agreement between ARTC and BHQ was not worth the paper it was written on.

He said neither the Queensland nor Australian government­s had approved the draft Environmen­tal Impact Statement for the proposed flood plain route.

Furthermor­e, the Independen­t Panel of Experts appointed by both government­s was still investigat­ing ARTC’s flood modelling.

“Nothing is settled with this proposed route,” Mr Judd said.

“The ARTC can appoint designers and update websites all they like but with no EIS approval they cannot lay a sleeper.

“Advice that we have seen from the Co-ordinator-General’s office that we have seen today confirms this.”

Mr Judd added that one of the major stakeholde­rs – the Toowoomba Regional Council was sceptical of the route in its response to the draft EIS.

Its submission recommende­d that the Draft EIS be rewritten to remove inconsiste­ncies and confusion raised through missing, potentiall­y misleading, or inaccurate informatio­n.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said earlier this week the freight route was “absolutely set” despite a Labor-led Senate committee calling for the business case to be reviewed and issues on the Condamine flood plain to be addressed.

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