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A 1,700-kilometre freight rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane is met with widespread criticism over the proposed route that requires new corridors to be constructed through farmland in southern Queensland, the Inland Rail Senate inquiry hears.
The project, which will consist of a 1,700-kilometre freight rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane, has been met with widespread criticism over the proposed route that will require new corridors to be constructed through farmland in southern Queensland.
The Millmerran meeting is one of two being held in Queensland to hear concerns about the proposed route of the rail project.
Goondiwindi Mayor Graeme Scheu said while he was supportive of Inland Rail, he had not met a single person who thought the current proposed route was a good idea.
Councillor Scheu said it was unbelievable to put a major freight rail corridor through one of "Australia's largest floodplains".
"I myself have lived in Goondiwindi since 1978 and I have not spoken to one man, woman or child who believes this to be the correct decision," Cr Scheu said.
Cr Scheu said out-of-date flood mapping was used by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) when devising the route.
"There has been plenty of consultation, but our biggest fear we have is that the messages from our end have not got to the decision-makers," Cr Scheu said.
"If it has to go through the floodplain, so be it, but there has to be a bridge built capable of allowing water to move under it.
"These earth mounds and viaducts will create obstacles and create interference."
'It could destroy our business'Millmerran egg producer Adam Birch said uncertainty over the rail line was having a major impact on his business, which produces 10 per cent of whole eggs in Australia.
"It could destroy our business — we are not sure where the line is going to go," Mr Birch said.
"We know it will bisect our properties and we have an establishment where we have 350 employees in Millmerran.
"By bisecting those properties it could redirect flood water and flood not only our feed mill, but the birds we care for."
Mr Birch said he would have to make some "hard decisions" about the future soon.
"Time is ticking and we can't seem to get any clarity," Mr Birch said.
Lack of transparency in ARTC consultationLarry Pappin, the president of the Inner Downs Inland Rail Action Group, said recent rain highlighted how quickly flooding could happen.
"Last week we found with the downpour we had — you saw the erosion that occurred just outside of Pittsworth — I don't think ARTC and their engineers fully understand the power of nature," Mr Pappin said.
Committee chair Senator Glen Sterle said he believed there was a lack of transparency in the company's consultation.
"If a deputy prime minister or decision-maker sat in this hall today with 300 people, there is no way you could leave this town as an elected minister of the Crown and walk away and think your department has got it right," Senator Sterle said.
In November 2019, the project gained support from the Queensland Government, which signed an agreement with the ARTC.
An ARTC spokesman said the inquiry would help them to explain the work that was being done.
"The Senate Inquiry is an important opportunity to hear different perspectives about the project," the ARTC spokesman said.
"We appreciate the opportunity to share that detail with the wider community."
The rail line is scheduled to be completed by 2025.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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