Friday 17th Jul, 2020

Inland Rail to boost Northern NSW economy

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has appointed a company to enhance project governance and support decision making for the $10 billion Inland Rail project.

Inland Rail is capable of supporting another 310 full time jobs and grow the food processing industry, logistics hubs and consumer warehousing in towns along the rail line, according to a new economic study.

The Northern NSW Long-Term Regional Opportunities report found a significant boost to jobs and investment in the area as a direct result of the project.

The report says Inland Rail is capable of supporting another 310 full-time jobs by 10 years of operation and could boost gross regional product by up to $1.7 billion over a 50-year period.

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said the study was a call-to-arms for small and big business to take advantage of the enhanced connectivity and cost-competitive supply chains created by Inland Rail.

“Inland Rail will provide benefits in regional communities for decades to come so we want to see industries expand outside metropolitan areas by taking advantage of the significant infrastructure we are delivering, lower land costs, resources and the ready and willing regional workforce,” he said.

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“We want Australia to be in the best position to not only recover from the disruptions caused by COVID-19, but thrive after the immediate threat has passed with all levels of Government working together to drive economic resilience and support jobs in our regions.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the report’s findings clearly demonstrated the important role Inland Rail will play in the nation’s economic recovery.

“We entered into this pandemic from a position of economic strength and we are confident our pro-growth and pro-business agenda will significantly boost our economy on the other side,” Cormann said.

“Our Government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline, of which Inland Rail is a major component, is part of our plan for a strong recovery.

“Giving businesses and communities along Inland Rail’s path access to fast, efficient and cost-competitive freight transport will connect them to new markets and will drive new investments from industries looking to expand in our regions.”

Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Minister and Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, welcomed the report and the opportunities highlighted for the region.

“The report includes industry case studies for Narrabri and Gunnedah – but what this report shows us is that there are opportunities for industry throughout northern New South Wales and not just along the 1700-kilometre line,” Coulton said.

“I want regional communities in northern New South Wales to have the same opportunities as metropolitan and coastal communities. Northern NSW is in a strong position to maximise the opportunities presented by Inland Rail.”

Coulton said the study region for the report includes 16 local government areas that are approximately 50 kilometres east and 100 kilometres west of the Inland Rail alignment.

The report is part of a broader economic study released in March 2020 that builds on the existing benefits outlined in the 2015 Inland Rail Business case and forecasts that regional Queensland, NSW and Victoria will see a boost of up to $13.3 billion in gross regional product off the back of Inland Rail.