Scott Morrison has committed almost $600 million to the Inland Rail project in Tuesday night’s federal budget.
“We know that an inland rail link will help to integrate domestic markets and bring global export markets closer to home,” the federal treasurer told the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“This is particularly important to leverage the benefits of our export trade agreements for Australian agriculture.
“That is why the Turnbull Government will take the next step to realising an integrated inland rail link connecting Brisbane and Melbourne.”
Morrison announced the 2016 budget will include $594 million in additional equity for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to acquire land for the project.
“Inland Rail is a truly transformational project that will open up the freight corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane, via regional New South Wales, and boost productivity for decades,” infrastructure minister Darren Chester said.
“The Inland Rail project will be delivered through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) in partnership with the private sector.”
Chester said the Government will soon begin market testing for private sector involvement in the project.
“The economic benefits of Inland Rail will be felt across the nation,” he said.
“The east coast freight corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane already generates 75% of Australia’s gross domestic product.
“It is responsible for commodity exports of more than $260 billion each year.
“Inland Rail will deliver almost $22.5 billion of direct and indirect benefits to Australia. Inland Rail will be a huge boon for industry, including the mining and agricultural sectors in eastern Australia, helping to meet the long-term Melbourne to Brisbane freight challenge.”
Chester said land acquisition would commence in 2017.
Australian Logistics Council chairman Michael Kilgariff welcomed the announcement.
“The 1700 kilometre link between Brisbane and Melbourne will transform the way we move freight around the country, and in effect will complete the spine of the national freight rail network,” Kilgariff said.
“The project will also reduce pressure on our road infrastructure and improve the global competitiveness of our exporters.
“ALC stands ready to work with the Government to progress the next stage of the project’s development.”