Rail dumped with PM
THE Federal Government was considering funding 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 accessed by future mines.
Mr Turnbull held highlevel talks with 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 from 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 discontinued 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 Mccormack said the Government had been approached by people “associated with the Adani mine project about potential new infrastructure projects in the region” in the past, but added “there are no related projects under formal consideration at this time”.
Mr Pitt, one of the key players in the talks, said the plan for the “ARTC to develop a multi-user railway” should still be on the table.
“If there was a way to provide an efficient, cost-effective, profitable multi-user railway that would enable the Galilee Basin, then the Federal Government should be considering all options,” Mr Pitt said.
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”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday expressed doubt about whether the Adani mine would go ahead.
“The number of people who are to be employed in this coalmine has dropped from 10,000 to just over 1000,” he said. “I will believe it when I see it.”