Rail dumped with PM

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - STEVEN SCOTT

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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.