Mark Coulton MP Federal Member for Parkes, New South Wales The Nationals. Parliament House Canberra 8 February 2017. Image David Foote – AUSPIC/DPS
Mark Coulton MP Federal Member for Parkes, New South Wales The Nationals. Parliament House Canberra 8 February 2017. Image David Foote – AUSPIC/DPS

OPINION: Inland Rail represents ‘new dawn’ for regions

INLAND Rail is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia, and with the Queensland Government now signed up, this transformational project is set for delivery.

Since before federation, the fact each state's freight networks are incongruous has been a source of frustration.

From Victoria's wide, to Queensland's narrow and New South Wales' standard gauge rail networks, the challenge of developing a real national freight network has been considered almost impossible.

That impossibility has now become opportunity though, with the Australian Government-owned ARTC network developing to provide the skeletal basis for the freight network of the future.

Queensland has a great deal to gain from this network and Inland Rail makes it all possible.

Inland Rail is the vital missing link between existing ARTC lines and promises to achieve far more than simply connecting the consumptive markets of Brisbane and Melbourne.

Inland Rail represents future prosperity.

Inland Rail represents a new dawn for rural communities along its 1700km route.

Inland Rail represents an opportunity for the whole country and Queensland is a big part of it.

At a time when the Sunshine State's economy lags the rest of the country, real job-creating infrastructure is needed more than ever.

Over the past decade, Queensland's economic growth has averaged just 2.4 per cent while the rest of the nation grew at an average of 2.7 per cent.

Despite exceptional employment growth in the state's resources sector, Queensland workers are suffering the nation's highest unemployment rate (6.5 per cent).

The state clearly needs a catalyst to help strengthen the economy and create jobs and Inland Rail is just the project.

Promising more than a $7 billion economic boost and 7200 direct and indirect jobs, Inland Rail represents opportunity for Queenslanders.

Inland Rail is a great deal for Queenslanders because Inland Rail is a serious job-creating opportunity, both through its three major construction projects and through the increased private investment we know this project will attract.

These jobs have been theoretical to date but now stare us in the face.

With construction already under way in NSW, serious private investment is being attracted to regional areas with Pacific National setting up a major intermodal facility along the route, near Parkes.

Similar projects are champing at the bit in the Sunshine State too, with serious opportunities for a range of businesses to "hook in" to the new freight spine.

Every Queenslander looking for a new or better job has a better chance as Inland Rail gears up; I look forward to seeing this important project get moving.

Inland Rail is a great deal for Queensland because it will revolutionise the way we handle freight logistics.

By moving freight from trucks on highways to double-stacked trains on a national rail network, we will decongest our roads, improve safety, and save taxpayers funds.

For every 1800 metre-long loaded train on Inland Rail, 10 less B-doubles are on the road.

Removing long-haul trucks from Warrego and Pacific Highways and Ipswich Motorway will make a great deal of difference to the daily commute for thousands of Queenslanders.

Mark Coulton, Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government and Assistant Trade and Investment Minister.

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