THE federal and Queensland governments are calling for public consultation on the draft terms of reference for an independent panel of expert hydrologists and engineers to inform the proposed flood modelling and structural design of the Inland Rail construction.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Michael McCormack said public consultation was important to provide further confidence the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s freight rail line will safely cross the Condamine Floodplain.

“Public safety remains the number one consideration for this government in the design and delivery of Inland Rail,” Mr McCormack said.

“The establishment of this independent panel of experts, which will include international expertise, will reaffirm our commitment to an engineering solution which safely crosses the Condamine and meets global best practice.

“Extensive work has already been undertaken by the ARTC and by Australian experts to develop and test flood modelling that will guide the structural design of Inland Rail as it crosses flood prone areas.”

Mr McCormack said he understands the “legitimate concerns landholders have about constructing infrastructure where our farmers and communities have experienced floods”. This is why the independent panel of experts is important to provide public safety assurance for Inland Rail, he said.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann said the government was committed to working with affected communities and experts to ensure Inland Rail safely and reliably delivered for all Australians over the very long term.

“Inland Rail is a major component of our $100bn infrastructure investment pipeline,” Minister Cormann said.

“This expert panel will provide reassurance around Inland Rail’s hydrology and engineering solutions.”

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Queensland Minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey said both the Australian and Queensland governments were committed to working with the community to ensure Inland Rail delivered on community expectations.

“The Condamine Floodplain is a complex and dynamic part of Queensland. The engineering solution for Inland Rail to cross the Condamine must address this, taking into account local hydraulic and hydrology patterns and local knowledge.

“The expert panel will review ARTC’s flood modelling and proposed designs against the best practice in a floodplain environment and provide advice to the Commonwealth, the State and the ARTC.”

The independent expert panel chosen to review ARTC’s flood modelling and design will include experts with international experience and will operate at arm’s length of ARTC.

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