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THE Tier 3 debate has highlighted the enormous opportunities for growing WA's rural economy according to the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Transport Ken Travers.
Speaking at the WAFarmers annual conference last week, Mr Travers said the Tier 3 debate could initiate the rebirth of rail across regional WA and the State's freight network.
"I think there is an opportunity out of the Tier 3 debate to look at the whole of the Wheatbelt," he said.
"There are an enormous array of opportunities and we have got to work out how to get the economy going, apart from just the grains industry.
"Although you are increasing the amount of grain you're growing, the reality is you are doing it with less, and with less people, so if we want to maintain the communities of the Wheatbelt we have got to find another economic driver.
"We haven't had that debated for a long time and I think we can bring the rail debate in as part of a grander vision."
Mr Travers said the State Government had shown a clear lack of strategic development and engagement with industry throughout the Tier 3 debate.
"For many years I think geographically and as an industry, the agricultural industry has sat in a position in the political debate in WA where one side of politics takes you for granted because they think they can continually count on your vote," he said.
"It is probably fair to say that on my side of politics they have looked at it and said 'it is all too hard, let's go away and do something else and try and work with other parts of the community'.
"The end result of that... is you have had what I think are some very bad decisions made that affect your industry."
Mr Travers said the government's strategic assessment of Tier 3 rail failed to look beyond the present to the future.
"CBH made an incredibly brave decision to invest in new rolling stock which completely changes the economics and that was not even dealt with at the time of the assessments about how we deal with the supply chain," he said.
This article first appeared on www.farmweekly.com.au
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