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Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said the project would provide the state government and Ararat Rural City Council the chance to work together.
“This is an opportunity for us to work with the council,” he said.
“Through the budget we have been provided with extra funds to support the planning for these projects.
“So the Ararat freight hub is the perfect example of where council, working with the state government, progress this project.
“It is not just a project of local significance, it is a regional significance.
“It is an opportunity to export produce internationally.”
Mr Wynne made the comments after opposition members questioned why a feasibility study into the project had taken a year to get underway.
He said the state government was happy to provide what support it could for the project.
“At the request of council will be happy to provide a planning support for it,” he said. “The state budget has provided significant money towards assisting councils like Ararat to get this freight hub, properly planned and scoped out, so we can get this significant project away.”
Ararat Rural City mayor Paul Hooper said the scope of the project had grown since council first started advocating for a rail hub.
“The project has changed in scope, when this first came up, we advocated for finding better use for the land out at the service centre,” he said.
“Now with the north-west rail corridor development and potential bypass of the town, the project is very different to what we envisioned it might have been some years ago when we start advocating for it.
“So that takes time, it is a much more complex piece of work now.
“We have no issues at all because it has changed its scope and complexity.”
Cr Hooper said Ararat’s geographical location made it the perfect place to put a rail hub for freight.
The city is positioned on the Western and Pyrenees Highways.
It also has access to three major Victorian ports.
Mr Hooper said there was plenty for the potential project to consider.
“The question is how do we capitilise on the that?” he said.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Damian Drum, questioned the government about the study in parliament on Tuesday.
Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the state government had been forced to admit the study was not underway.
“This is a very embarrassing admission for Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and the Andrews Labor Government,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews promised this study back in October 2014.”
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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