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TOWNSVILLE Enterprise chief executive officer Patricia O’Callaghan has slammed the Federal Government after it was revealed the Mount Isa to Townsville rail corridor is only a “medium-term” priority in an infrastructure report.
Infrastructure Australia’s latest Infrastructure Priority List, released on Monday, showed the project was in the “business case development” stage and given the lowest rank of “priority initiative”.
Highest-priority projects included transport projects in Sydney and Melbourne and motorway works near Brisbane.
The Mount Isa project has previously been cited as crucial to Townsville, as it would increase the speed of trains and deliver efficiency to industry.
Ms O’Callaghan said the list contradicted the Government’s Northern Australia Agenda.
“This agenda is all about opening up infrastructure in the North, so it’s disappointing to see only five priority projects identified in Northern Australia out of 100,” she said.
“Furthermore, there is a total of 18 priority projects listed in the plan for the whole of Queensland, yet only two of these are located in North Queensland. The rest are in the southeast corner.”
Ms O’Callaghan said regional infrastructure was critical as most of Australia’s key bulk commodity exports were shipped from regional ports.
“The Mount Isa to Townsville rail corridor upgrade will deliver efficiency to industry, increased capacity to Port of Townsville, amenity to the community, construction and employment within the region,” she said. “It is the essential next step in the supply chain which connects one of the world’s richest minerals provinces with its global market.
“Considering the MITEZ region generates over $16 billion of GRP annually, the rail upgrade must be treated as a project of national importance.”
A Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development spokesman said the Government was supporting the state’s work on a business case for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.
“This (TEARC) is a key component of the Mount Isa-Townsville rail corridor upgrade,” he said. “The Federal Government has committed $147 million for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.
“Infrastructure Australia is aware the line requires ongoing maintenance to ensure it is able to meet existing demand.
“The ‘medium term’ categorisation refers to the expected need for additional capacity on the line in the future, not the need for regular maintenance.”
Townsville Port CEO Renee Crosby said the rail line was a critical part of the supply chain for the imports and exports for the port.
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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