Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail project saying it is the closest the project has ever been to becoming reality.
The Federal Budget allocation of $8.4 billion is more than 75% of the total estimated cost of the project.
“This is a $10 billion dollar project that will change the economic and social landscape of this region and regional Australia more broadly.
“My Toowoomba Regional Council colleagues as well as my colleagues in regions and towns along the proposed inland rail route have a real spring in our step today.”
Once completed, the inland rail project will complete a standardised rail offering across Australia for the first time in the nation’s history.
“This commitment brings immense satisfaction and delight to me personally, as a strong advocate for Inland Rail, I know what it has the potential to do for our region,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Our vision for the Toowoomba Region to become one of Australia’s major inland ports, just got a whole lot closer to being realised.”
“Inland Rail will bring remarkable employment, not only during its construction, but importantly will open up opportunities in regional Australia never considered possible because of the lack of access to ports via a reliable and efficient rail.”
All levels of government and industry agree the project will be catalytic to contributing to unprecedented economic growth in Australia, and a commitment of this size, paves the way for the project to be taken to the market for the best possible solution,” Mayor Antonio said.
Mayor Antonio said the Toowoomba Region, which is one of Australia’s most productive agricultural areas, was the place to start because it included one of the fundamental sections of the line.
“The Gowrie to Kagaru component is one of the most complex and costly sections of the project with the tunnel through the Toowoomba Range expected to cost in the order $2 billion”, he said.
Mayor Antonio said the Toowoomba Region exported 3.5 million tonnes of agricultural products per year, with only 180,000 tonnes of this output transported by rail.
“For producers, one of their biggest costs is transport. It’s easy to see that the inland rail will take our production and export industry to the next level because we will be more competitive on the global market,” Mayor Antonio added.
“We already are seeing Toowoomba taking shape as the inland port of Australia, offering a plentiful supply of some of the cheapest, readily zoned industrial land. We have excellent connectivity to existing rail, road and air but the inland rail is set to be a game changer to our region and Australia in general.
Mayor Antonio also welcomed the return of indexation for Financial Assistance Grants for local government saying based on current CPI, but says there is still a long road ahead before councils recover from the freeze as it permanently reduced the base level of the Financial Assistance Grants payments. -ENDS-