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The Northern Territory Government has committed $1 million to investigate the feasibility of building a rail line from Tennant Creek (NT) to Mt Isa (Qld).
The proposed rail line has been talked about for years and a feasibility study was one of the key recommendations in last year's Pivot North report.
NT chief minister Adam Giles said the 600 kilometre rail connection had the potential to deliver "enormous economic opportunities" to the nation.
"Linking northern and eastern markets would provide incentives to explorers and producers to invest in the NT, creating jobs and driving money into the economy," he said.
"This would be a long term project with a price tag in excess of a billion dollars, but its benefits would be exponential to the Territory and I'm keen to explore whether it's economically viable.
"This is a project of national significance and the Australian Government will be asked to match this funding in line with its commitment to developing the north."
Speaking to ABC Rural, the general manager of the northern Australia development office, Luke Bowen, said the new rain line was "a no-brainer".
"This line across to Mount Isa brings in some really new dynamics, so it brings in the whole eastern seaboard, it brings in the resources sector, gas reserves and some very large phosphate resources that lie across the Barkly," he said.
"Currently the Queenslanders are very concerned about their [Great Barrier] reef, so we can offer them an alternative to some of their outbound goods, and inbound goods, we could take some pressure off.
"It's a very logical progression and it's not just about goods in and out.
"It's also about national defence.
"It fits very well around moving equipment and people quickly and efficiently from the eastern seaboard into northern Australia.
"It stacks up and ticks a lot of boxes."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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