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DO NOT underestimate "the power of people" is the message the Inner Downs Inland Rail Action Group to Federal MPs after they mailed their 1,000 signature petition to the House of Representatives yesterday.
IDIRAG president Larry Pappin said the current petition "had only been floating around for two weeks" and the group thought it important to send it to Canberra early, in the hope that it can be discussed in Parliament before Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester makes a final decision on the project.
"We're asking the parliament to reserve the decision that Minister Chester made and choose a route that considers operations, environment, community and safety," he said.
"We're the people that vote them in and we're the people that can vote them out.
"And if it's affecting all taxpayers in the nation, and once they realise that (the government) has made a decision that isn't the cheapest, isn't the best for operations, and is going to ruin some of Australia's best agricultural land, I'm sure they won't be happy."
The petition said: "There have been two major Inland Rail project assessments completed in 2010 and 2015 that mapped the route for the Inland Rail."
"Early in 2017, the Project Reference Group (PRG) led by Bruce Wilson AM was asked to review 3 additional routes. The PRG did not meet its Terms of Reference, a view that is held by many of the members.
"The suggestion by the members to identify potential alternatives was dismissed. Other recommendations made in the PRG report have been ignored by the Minister.
"The Local and State Government bodies have planned and approved the InterLinkSQ freight hub which has commenced development in preparation for the Inland Rail.
"Government has no overarching plan for a second freight hub that is only 8km from the Charlton hub.
"Despite a 2015 report by the Inland Rail Implementation Group stating that air freight was not a "viable alternative for addressing Australia's freight task on the Melbourne to Brisbane corridor into the future" the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has chosen a route to go to the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport and the development of another freight hub.
"This chosen route, examined and approved in 10 months (PRG 24/11/2016 - Corridor Options Report 21/4/17) has overturned seven years of planning.
"It has the highest disturbance of agricultural land, the largest greenfield area and the most impact on community. Furthermore, taxpayers will be contributing considerably more for this route."
This article first appeared on www.thechronicle.com.au
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