FEDERAL Labor will hold an inquiry into the Inland Rail project if elected to government, Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese says.
Speaking to 2GB host Alan Jones (hardly a friend of the Labor Party), Mr Albanese criticised both the route selection and the financing of the 1700km project.
“The government has botched this from day-one which is why… I will be announcing a federal Labor government will be having a full public inquiry into this debacle,” Mr Albanese said.
“It is very clear that the government has failed to consult properly. It is very clear that there are real issues with the route going through prime agricultural land.”
While the rail line is to be 1700km long, 1100km is existing track with greenfield areas from Yelarbon to Gowrie and Narromine to Narrrabri.
Mr Albanese also criticised the funding of the project by way of an “equity injection”.
“The truth is [former Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader] John Anderson did an inquiry for the current government that said it wouldn’t produce a return in 50 years so the whole financing of the project, if you get that wrong, then you have got to fix it up later on,” he said.
Mr Albanese criticised the lack of plans for direct rail connection into the ports of Brisbane and Melbourne.
“When you talk about Inland Rail, it shouldn’t have been taken literally of being just inland, it doesn’t go to a port,” he said.
“It stops 38km short of Brisbane port at Acacia Ridge. Now if you have these incredibly long, double-stacked trains stopping 38km [short], what happens in those last 38km?”
Mr Albanese said the CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation conceded in Senate Estimates that it wouldn’t produce a return
“So what they are doing is counting the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s balance sheet as a whole in order to defend this equity injection into the project,” he said.
“So you have problems with the financing [and] problems with how the decision was made in the first time.”
During the interview Mr Jones drew attention to possible flooding issues that might be caused by running a rail line across the Castlereagh River flood plain in western New South Wales.