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PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the Federal Government’s decision to build the final leg of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland railway on Queensland floodplains.
The Government today officially announced that the route would run between Yelarbon and Gowrie.
It will cut directly across the Condamine floodplain in the state’s Darling Downs region.
Farmers have hit out at the plan, with local Wes Judd saying it had the potential to “directly affect every landholder” along on the track.
“In the floodplain where we are - upstream and downstream - people are now, depending on what these guys do, in the eye of the storm,” he told ABC Radio.
However, Mr Turnbull says there are plenty of railways around the world that are built on floodplains.
“There are a number of reasons for that alignment being chosen,” he told ABC Radio.
“It uses existing rail corridors as much as possible and is a more economically viable option than the other routes.”
But Southern Downs Regional Council mayor Tracy Dobie said she was disappointed the government had decided against building the last leg of the train line through her area.
“There is already a Queensland, state-owned rail link through the Southern Downs,” she told ABC Radio.
Ms Dobie said it “didn’t make sense” to construct another track and it could result in the state government abandoning the maintenance of the existing line.
“The impact on the economy would be devastating,” she said.
Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester said rigorous technical analysis and consultation had helped the government decide on the preferred route.
“All options present challenges but it is my view, based on the available information, that the corridor via Wellcamp and Charlton is the right decision,” he said in a statement.
Mr Chester reiterated Mr Turnbull’s comments that it used existing networks as much as possible and also went past Wellcamp Airport, “which didn’t exist in 2010 when the original route was considered”.
“I acknowledge there will be impacts to those living and working on or near the preferred route,” he said, saying the government would work with communities to minimise the impact.
“The final design will be subject to an extensive state government planning and approvals process, which will work through questions about technical and environmental aspects.”
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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