Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes

Australia's Freight Rail Network- Question Without Notice

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

 My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline what the government is doing to improve Australia's freight rail network?


Mr TRUSS (Wide BayDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:22): I thank the honourable member for his question. I know that he is as pleased as all regional members in Australia are about the $50 billion commitment that this government has made in the budget to road and rail infrastructure. It will make a real difference to our road network. There has been a lot of attention given to some of the major road projects that are being funded in this budget, but there is also significant investment in rail.

Mr Perrett: What about urban rail?

Mr TRUSS: How about the Port Botany rail? Is that urban? I would have thought it was in a sort of town. It is called 'Sydney'. This is a new rail link to connect the port at Botany to the intermodal to make sure that freight can move smoothly through Sydney. Of course, there is the North West rail project in Sydney—$690 million for that project. If the honourable members opposite are looking around for urban projects, how about the Moreton Bay Rail in Brisbane, which was announced by both the Labor Party and the coalition in the 2010 election? This will not be—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler, on a point of order, and it had better be an accurate one.

Mr Albanese: Yes, Madam Speaker. The question went to this year's budget and initiatives for rail.

The SPEAKER: Are you raising a point of relevance?

Mr Albanese: Yes, I am on relevance. He has not mentioned one initiative from this year's budget.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It is a debate.

Mr TRUSS: The reality is that, yes, both Labor and the coalition promised this railway line in the 2010 election but it had to wait until we were elected to actually get started, to get built and underway. There are also commitments to the Advanced Train Management System between Port Augusta and Whyalla, the Melbourne metropolitan intermodal scheme and the $120 million to continue the upgrading of the Tasmanian rail system. I am sure the honourable member for Parkes will be particularly interested in one of the other flagship commitments in this budget, and that is $300 million towards the new Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail. We are getting on with the job—a project that Labor neglected during its time in office. We have put in place an implementation committee, and they are working on developing key initial projects that might well be able to begin promptly. They have identified three areas: the Rosewood to Kagaru section in Queensland, the Narrabri to North Star section in New South Wales and the Parkes to Narromine section in New South Wales. Some of those areas are obviously in the member's electorate.

So we have a real commitment to getting the inland rail project underway. It is a project that will make a real difference to the movement of freight between our second and third largest cities but also provide new outlets for production, particularly in inland New South Wales, the member's electorate, to enable it to get to a port more smoothly and more efficiently. This is a major new project that will make a real difference to the transport network of our nation.

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