Govt toyed with rail line idea for CQ min­ers

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE STEVEN SCOTT

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was ac­tively con­sid­er­ing a plan to fund a large rail line to open up Cen­tral Queens­land to fur­ther min­ing de­vel­op­ment but the scheme was aban­doned 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 Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment take over Adani’s orig­i­nal rail pro­posal to en­sure it could be ex­panded and used by fu­ture mines.

Mr Turn­bull held high level talks with a select num­ber of min­is­ters in­clud­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann, Deputy PM Michael McCor­mack and the then as­sis­tant to the Deputy PM, Keith Pitt.

The for­mer PM had not agreed to the push, which came from Na­tion­als and the Queens­land Lib­eral Na­tional Party, but had not re­jected it ei­ther, the Courier Mail has con­firmed.

Ex­ec­u­tives at 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 at 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 they were un­aware of the ear­lier ne­go­ti­a­tions.

But Mr Pitt said the plan for the “ARTC to de­velop a multi­user rail­way” should still be con­sid­ered in a bid to cre­ate a jobs boom in cen­tral Queens­land.

An Adani spokes­woman said the miner would not com­ment on ear­lier pro­pos­als and the com­pany was now com­mit­ted to “build­ing a 200km nar­row gauge rail line that will con­nect the mine site to the ex­ist­ing rail net­work”.

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