Govt toyed with rail line idea for CQ miners
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”.