Rail plan to open up min­ing

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - STEVEN SCOTT FED­ERAL PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing a plan to fund a rail line to open up cen­tral Queens­land to fur­ther min­ing de­vel­op­ment but aban­doned it after Mal­colm Turn­bull was rolled as prime min­is­ter.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions for the Aus­tralian Rail Track Cor­po­ra­tion to build Queens­land’s first stan­dard gauge rail line would have seen the Gov­ern­ment take over Adani’s rail pro­posal to en­sure it could be ex­panded and ac­cessed by fu­ture mines.

The for­mer PM held high­level talks with a select num­ber of min­is­ters in­clud­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann, deputy PM Michael McCor­mack and then as­sis­tant to the deputy PM Keith Pitt.

Mr Turn­bull had not agreed to the push, which came from Na­tion­als and the Queens­land LNP, but had not re­jected it.

Ex­ec­u­tives in Adani, GVK and Waratah Coal were aware of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mr McCor­mack pri­vately told some LNP MPs the scheme would go ahead after it was raised in res­o­lu­tions to the party’s state con­ven­tion and Na­tion­als fed­eral con­fer­ence last year.

The talks were not re­sumed after Scott Mor­ri­son be­came PM and Adani later went ahead with a plan to fund its own nar­row gauge rail line that has a more lim­ited ca­pac­ity.

Mr Mor­ri­son’s of­fice said it was un­aware of the ear­lier ne­go­ti­a­tions. But Mr Pitt, said the plan should still be con­sid­ered.

An Adani spokes­woman said it was com­mit­ted to “build­ing a 200km nar­row gauge rail line that will con­nect the mine site to the ex­ist­ing rail net­work”.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten yes­ter­day ex­pressed doubt about whether the Adani mine would go ahead.

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