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David Cranney is the candidate for Rise Up Australia in the New England by-elections following his decision to run on Saturday. On his way to Armidale to register his candidacy, he stopped by our offices and left us an article about how to foster prosperity in the region and how an inland rail line to Gladstone could help in this direction.
Eight million people out of the 16 million people who live along our eastern and southern Australian coastline could be facing food shortages over the next five to ten years if the radiation from the Fukushima reactor keeps annihilating the fish stocks in the northern Pacific and possibly southern Pacific Oceans. Asian countries who are now exporting to Australia will, in the future have to import huge quantities of food from Australia,driving prices through the roof. Australia is committed to free trade deals with the Asian countries, who are investing heavily in prime farming land and water in Australia. These countries know what is happening in their own back yard. So should we. “Please check with my Google.”
The problems as I see them.
(1) The route from Goondiwindi to Brisbane port has to cut through several ranges, tunnels have to be constructed, adding huge costs and disruption to traffic flows in and around Brisbane, to get to the port. Ipswich road, Logan City bypass and port connection roads are congested to the maximum now, without the extra freight from high speed trains, being adding to them.
(2) The cost of building the railway from Goondiwindi to Brisbane Port is going to cost more than the cost of building the railway from Melbourne to Goondiwindi!
(3) The proposed route from Yelarbon to Wellcamp and on to Brisbane cuts through some of the most fertile small farming areas on the Darling Downs and Gatton districts and is causing great concern to these farmers and small towns. It also cuts through and across the Condamine River and major highway systems connecting Queensland’s population to the south. The Newell/Cunningham/Gore highways will be known as “the highways from hell” if rail crossings are incorrectly constructed. Trucks, Grey nomads, Golden oldies and tourists will find different routes. is this a wise move to the future as population in these are areas also on the increase?
(4) I have been farming for over 50 years and our family for nearly a hundred years. Never in this time have I seen so few 20-30 year olds coming on to put their “hand to the plough” as is happening now. The average age of farmers is now over 60. No farmers, no food.
My reasons for going to Gladstone are as follows.
(1) Goondiwindi district could become an inland port and distribution centre for Australia, as there are six highways leading out of Goondiwindi in all directions connectin Miles, Dalby, Toowoomba, Moree, Inverell and St George districts. With my suggestion we would have rail going in four directions.
(2) We have the potential for a huge increase in production capacity in the Border Rivers and Condamine River catchments from Kingaroy south to Inverell – west to Wee Waa, north to Boomi, Dirranbandi and St George, north to Miles and back to Kingaroy. Goondiwindi could become a massive packaging and distribution centre employing thousands of people. A small fee would pay for the rail link from Gundy to Miles. Small crops across this area would take over from cotton as the prices rise.
Building a freight-only air field in Goondiwindi to shift freight into Asia and distribute goods into South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. These states are investing their taxmoney into the inland rail project, but they are not directly benefitting from this trade opporunity. Please note that there are very little hills and rises to obstruct huge freight lifters out of the Goondiwindi district.
(3) Gladstone port is under capacity. New coal mines at Wandoan have been given approval, and with the Billion dollar loan schemes the federal government are offering to other overseas coal companies, the Surat Basin Railway, 450k from Miles to Gladstone, could be started straight away and paid for by coal. The rail link from Goondiwindi to Miles could actually be bulit sooner than the inland rail connection from melbourne to Goondiwindi is completed. The relatively flat terrian from Goondiwindi to Miles should be a breeze in comparison to going through the ranges to Brisbane.
(4) When i went ot Gatton College, most of southe-east Queensland’s small crops were ggrown in the Lockyer Valley and around Redlands areas. The sources were our small crops are grown have now changed. South East Queensland main food supplies now come from the Darling Downs, Stanthorpe Bundaberg and imports. 60 per cent of our food is now imported.
So as I have mentioned, the Border Rivers, Bundaberg, Fitzroy Basin and north to the Atherton Tablelands, could become the essential food production areas for two thirds of the Australian population, who live in the greater Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne and Adelaide city clusters. If you take in the new free trade agreements into Asia, that have to be honoured, and the shortages caused by radiation, then the inland rail line would become an essential life line to these people as back freight. The north would be able to supply the osuth with out-of-season produce as back freight, boosting northern development.
Our family policy has been to survive 40 years of low commodity prices by injecting off farm income into our farming enterprises. We purchased the old Goondiwindi hospital and shifted it out to our property and ran it as a tourist facility. my oldest son loves living on the farm but has had to travel into town to practice as a Vet and is now giving that away to be a teacher. No time with the family! My second son ran a landscaping business to Brisbane before settling in our area to bring up his family. Off farm income again. My daughter married an ex-shearer/farmer-cum-obstetrician practicing on Thursday Island. They work there to purchase enough land in our district to live on and bring up their family.
What I am asing is, when are the politicians that are in control going to change their policy, to put our future farmers and food production first before commercial interest? Government policies have been a disaster in the electricity, gas and housing. Please don’t let this happen to our food sector. Please note PM Kevin Rudd destroyed the wheat board, no one-year supply of grain left in reserve!
For these reasons, I feel it is straight out common sense to have a fast freight line going straight from Goondiwindi to Gladstone, making this the inland trade route for Australia. It is also closer to ports in Asia. I could be wrong, but what do you think?
Bethel homestead, Yelarbon, Queensland
This article first appeared on www.moreechampion.com.au
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