SEAN MURPHY: There'll be close to 100,000 tonnes of cotton lint produced in the Murrumbidgee Valley this year. That's about 430,000 bales being trucked by road to the Port of Melbourne. It equates to 2400 truckloads and there could be the same number again carrying cottonseed. The potential to double the region's cotton production is helping fuel a new debate about the best way to transport around $30 billion worth of freight from two of the nation's biggest inland food bowls. ...
DAVID FARLEY: The most practical part about it, it actually exists. We have a transport corridor. You don't have to go and buy new land, acquire new land, get easements, etc. This corridor exists. It's just a matter of updating the corridor and making it used. Then you'll find that inside it, whether it's the stone fruit industries at Shepparton, whether it's the rice mills, the flour mills, the abattoirs, the timber mills or the value-added food companies - is there is enormous amount of freight here already. There's in excess of 190,000-odd container units at the moment moving out.
SEAN MURPHY: The Riverina's three cotton gins all say they would welcome cheaper, more efficient transport. Southern cotton used to transport up to 50,000 tonnes of cottonseed by rail. But the cost and reliability didn't stack up.
KATE O'CALLAGHAN: If that all changed, we certainly would be looking at changing back to rail, certainly for our cottonseed. For the cotton, we don't control that because we're just the toll gin, we're just ginning for the other merchants. But as a toll gin maybe down the future we could put in more warehouses and pack directly on-site into containers and ship out of containers. Nothing's impossible. "