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Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
Grain growers are disappointed the Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper misses an opportunity to develop inland rail.
It was nearly the only black mark against the Federal Government's long awaited White Paper, that has been otherwise welcomed by farmers.
Grain growers are fed up with the high cost of moving grain, and are disappointed with the lack of investment.
"Absolutely, it's widely acknowledged that transport, post farm gate, makes up 30 per cent of most growers costs," said Grain Growers chief executive Alicia Garden at the group's conference on Innovation Generation: Risk, Staying Ahead of the Game.
"So we were hoping for at least a little initiative to move the discussion along.
"It wasn't going to be the entire solution, but at least it could have started down the pathway of trying to rectify the current issues with rail infrastructure in Australia."
Grain growers said they would do their own research over the next six months to present to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce a route for inland rail from Brisbane to Victoria.
The largest grain handler in eastern Australia, GrainCorp, was also critical, saying for years the government knew it needed to improve dilapidated inland rail.
New South Wales grain grower committee chairman Daniel Cooper agreed the failure to mention rail infrastructure spending was a setback.
"Speaking with people over the weekend, the White Paper didn't have the 'wow factor' that everyone was anticipating," he said.
"As NFF has highlighted if it had that infrastructure, money allotted to built inland rail it would have made 10/10, but that was the bigger disappointment, the lack of money to start building the inland rail."
But there was delight at the $50 million for investigating new dams and water infrastructure, with $450 million for construction.
"Certainly in NSW, the major rivers from north to the south, where the dams are there could be provisions like Split Rock above the Lachlan, could add to production," said Mr Cooper, from his farm near Forbes.
"As we've seen in the floods of 2010, at times there's more than enough water to store that water to grow food down the track."
Chairman of the Inland Rail Alliance and mayor of Parkes in New South Wales, Ken Keith. was disappointed an inland rail network did not receive greater attention in the White Paper.
"It could be a game changer for agriculture," he said.
Mr Keith said the release of the government's $300 million inland rail study, led by former deputy prime minister John Anderson, may have more answers.
"I think the other part of the government's deliberations on this is the involvement of the private sector and what sort of input they will have on it," he said.
"I think the government is waiting to see what sort of contribution it might make.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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