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RIDDLED with frustration, a south-east Queensland MP has called a Federal Government agency "idiots" in a spray over the $8.4 billion Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail.
In his latest bid to extend the inland rail line by 520km to Gladstone, Lockyer MP of 14 years Ian Rickuss told six state and federal politicians in an email the current route was "incorrect and a disadvantage".
The email, published on the Queensland Government's website, shows he wrote "this way you idiots" below a media release from miner Glencore stating it needed the Brisbane to Gladstone link to move forward with another coal mine.
The comment was aimed at federal agency Australian Rail Track Corporation, which is responsible for building the rail line.
Mr Rickuss has gained support from Gladstone Ports Corporation and the region's state and federal members, all vouching for the Gladstone to Melbourne connection.
Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss left this note in an email about the need to extend inland rail to Gladstone.Tegan Annett
"Finally people have started to realise there's a bloody big freight train coming with a load of debt," Mr Rickuss said.
"I'm more than happy with any support I can get, I don't care if it's green, blue or any other colour for that matter."
The Gatton-based politician argues Toowoomba's range is too treacherous for the rail line, and his region's landholders do not want it either.
Describing it as "blatant stupidity", Mr Rickuss likened the Toowoomba to Brisbane leg of Inland Rail to an episode of ABC's Utopia.
Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive Peter O'Sullivan said the 1987km long Melbourne to Gladstone connection was "a fantastic idea" and would benefit the broader central Queensland region too.
Mr O'Sullivan said the international market would benefit with exporting to Asia cheaper and faster via Gladstone.
He said the extension was one way GPC, already one of the world's largest multi-commodity ports, could more than double its exports from 120 million tonnes to 290 million tonnes.
"Following the recent announcement from the Queensland Government regarding (Glencore's) major coal mining lease in the Surat Basin, there is the need for this inland rail system to link to the Port of Gladstone," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"This extension would have a catalyst effect, increasing both agricultural and resource trade opportunities for regional Queensland.
"GPC is ready and willing to handle the potential increase in containers and other products."
It's not the first time the Gladstone link has been touted, with a $250,000 feasibility study into the costings and viability of the extension launched by the Federal Government last year.
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd, who launched the study, said yesterday the report was with the Department of Transport.
He said the department would prepare a brief for Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester.
The study has gained Mr O'Dowd an ally in Gladstone's state Labor member Glenn Butcher.
"We're doing everything we can to utilise the Gladstone Port and an inland rail from Melbourne to Gladstone would be a great investment," Mr Butcher said.
Meanwhile Mr Rickuss said there was "no end" to his frustration and he warned he would not give up on his cause.
"I think they think just because I'm retiring next year I'll go away, but really, I'll be even louder and frustrating," he said.
The decision rests with transport minister Mr Chester, who is yet to announce his decision on his evaluation of four route options.
The tri-state Melbourne to Brisbane project was part of a $20 billion federal spend on rail infrastructure in the May 10 Budget this year.
This article first appeared on www.gladstoneobserver.com.au
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