Not Tracking Well

Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester is under fire from key National Party backbenchers who are calling for him to justify the route through Queensland for the multibillion-dollar Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail project.

inland rail route through Millmerran
The eight backbenchers say they want more transparency and have written a jointly signed letter to the Minister demanding answers.

The correspondence has resulted from comments made at the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Senate Estimates Committee who has heard that proper assessments had not been done.

The Inland Rail Unit acting executive director Richard Wood and Australian Rail Track Corporation John Fullerton has told those hearings that some of the decisions for the rail corridor were made on high-level assumptions and not on detailed costings.

This comes on top of independent modelling sourced by Maranoa MP David Littleproud which found the route could be seriously problematic for farmers and taxpayers, with fears the corridor could cause an inland lake, and it also raises issues about costs associated with building an elevated track across the Condamine flood plain.

In September, Mr Chester announced that the Government would pursue a Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail route through Millmerran, Brookstead and Southbrook on to Wellcamp and through to Charlton.

The letter to Mr Chester from Nationals MPs, strongly urges the Minster to backdown on the chosen route.

Minister Chester says the Yelarbon to Gowrie section of the project would be subject to an environmental impact statement that would take up to two years.

In September, Mr Chester said the Government would pursue a Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail route through Millmerran, Brookstead and Southbrook on to Wellcamp and through to Charlton.