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It’s Queenslander against Queenslander in the battle to stop a proposed multi-million-dollar Tennant Creek to Mount Isa rail link.
Mount Isa Mayor Joyce McCulloch has thrown her support behind the Tennant Creek proposal and accused Queensland opponents of “zero-sum thinking”.
Ms McCulloch said the Tennant Creek rail line, linking with the Adelaide-Darwin line, would make the supply chains in Northern Australia more efficient, make companies more efficient and attract new investment and jobs.
She said the Mount Isa and Tennant Creek Railway Strategic Options Paper, done in partnership with the Northern Territory and Queensland, should be released by the Federal Government.
“We believe there have been many expressions of interest in funding and building the link,” Ms McCulloch said.
Townsville’s peak Economic Development Organisation and Charters Towers Mayor Liz Schmidt opposed the line, saying it would be detrimental to their towns.
Townsville Enterprise Limited (TEL) says an economic study shows the link has the potential to redirect a significant share of the North West Minerals Province’s $4 billion of mineral exports to Darwin.
TEL chief executive Patricia O’Callaghan said the report showed the potential for loss of wealth along the rail corridor.
“It’s disappointing that Mount Isa’s mayor would dismiss a report that shows there is the potential for up to 900 jobs lost from the region,” Ms O’Callaghan said.
However, Ms McCulloch said the Townsville Enterprise report, by AEC, focused only on Townsville and not on the broader Northern Australia economy.
“An efficient rail connection linking Townsville on the east coast and Darwin in Australia’s north will mean improved supply chains throughout Northern Australia, which will be good for all economic centres, including Townsville,” she said.
“There is a lot of zero-sum thinking going on at the moment with a belief that if one centre achieves something then that is to the detriment of another, and that is simply not the case.”
Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester said the options paper technical assessment program would be finalised in early 2018.
This article first appeared on www.ntnews.com.au
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