Andrews must commit to Murray Basin Rail Project

30 April 2015

The Murray Basin Rail Project offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair and standardise freight rail lines across northern and western Victoria which Daniel Andrews must not waste.

Following the sale of Rural Finance Corporation for approximately $400 million, the Coalition set aside $220 million of those funds for the Murray Basin Rail Project in the 2014/15 Budget.

We understood that upgrading and standardising rail freight lines was vital to the growth and competitiveness of Victoria’s grain and horticultural industries, by allowing farmers to get their produce to ports more efficiently and cheaply.

But Daniel Andrews has still not explained what he plans to deliver under the Murray Basin Rail Project or how much he will spend. If he continues to fail to commit to the $220 million, the Coalition fears money will be taken from the project and sent to prop up commitments in Melbourne – and a second-rate Murray Basin Rail Project will be the result.

The Coalition supports a comprehensive Murray Basin Rail upgrade including:

• Maryborough to Ararat line refurbishment

• Yelta to Gheringhap (Geelong) standardisation

• Sea Lake to Korong Vale standardisation

• Manangatang to Dunolly standardisation

• Murrayville to Ouyen standardisation

Improving these lines will provide farmers in northern and western Victoria with access to ports in Geelong, Portland and Melbourne, giving them choice about where they send their produce to get the best value for money.

The Coalition has listened to the industry and we know they do not want a piecemeal, half-hearted upgrade – if it’s going to be done, it needs to be done properly.

Given Daniel Andrews just spent at least $640 million to not build a road in Melbourne it would be an insult to country Victorians if he were to not spend $220 million to upgrade critical freight rail infrastructure.

Daniel Andrews is fast gaining a reputation as a Premier focused on Melbourne at the expense of country Victoria. His first State Budget is a true test on whether he will keep his commitments and decide to govern for all Victorians.

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