Councillor Graeme Scheu, Mayor of Goondiwindi Regional Council no doubt went a bit quiet and weak at the knees on Tuesday night, but now says he is ecstatic to learn from the Budget release that finally the Inland Rail will be funded.
“The funding of this vital infrastructure will create an enormous benefit to Goondiwindi and Balonne regions, areas that provide in excess of $800m dollars of agricultural product to export alone.”
“It has been a long wait,” Councillor Scheu says.
“I remember the day that the former Mayor of Goondiwindi Alderman Tom Sullivan drove the peg and planted the tree on November 5, 2001. Ironically, the Deputy Prime Minister at the time was John Anderson who has also been a longtime advocate and more recently Chair of the Implementation Committee.
Both the former Waggamba Shire Council and the former Goondiwindi Town Council prior to amalgamation have been long time supporters of the project and have always advocated the line needs to enter Queensland as close as possible to the town of Goondiwindi but obviously not go through town.
Mayor Scheu says there are a number of purpose built rail facilities immediately to the east of Goondiwindi.
“This rich agricultural region needs a form of connection to the point (a feeder line) where the Inland Rail joins the existing South West Rail. This is why we have made representation to both the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on his recent visit.”
Currently, ARTC have a designated seven kilometre exploration zone where the rail will cross into Queensland. The zone extends from the Wagner’s Quarry on the Macintyre River back seven kilometres to the west.
Goondiwindi Regional Council have pushed for the consideration of the utilization of the forest north of Whetstone in preference to the existing southwest rail close to Inglewood. Councillor Scheu says this depends on the investigations still underway with the four potential models left on the eastern end of the corridor.
“And finally, for the Inland Rail to capitalize fully on the potential there needs to be a direct access into the Port of Brisbane.”
“It is definitely the best news the town of Goondiwindi has received for a long time and we are now at the stage where all levels of government, Federal, State and Local need a collaborative approach to ensure the best decisions are made as soon as possible with this vital piece of Infrastructure.”
“Rail freight is our future.”