NSW Farmers want Inland rail enquiry after Senates Estimates

NSW Farmers are calling its members to down tools and refuse to engage with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) until the Australian Government finally calls an inquiry into inland rail.

This follows evidence given in the Senate Estimates this week, which demonstrated the extent the project is at risk of collapse. 

It found that former minister Darren Chester signed a brief with an incorrect map of the proposed study area, referencing the wrong preferred corridor and causing confusion in the community. 

There was no clear rationale for the selection of the route between Narromine and Curban, with the December 2016 independent Multi Criteria Analysis report’s recommendation to develop a particular option being ignored.

ARTC CEO John Fullerton was unaware of community concerns across two states about the proposed route and impact on landowners and Deputy Nationals’ leader Senator Bridget McKenzie, claimed that the Deputy Prime Minister was working with concerned communities, despite his written refusal to work with NSW Farmers to resolve issues across western New South Wales.

NSW Farmers’ Inland Rail Taskforce Chair, Adrian Lyons said the project is a critical piece of nation building infrastructure and the time had now come for an independent inquiry to get this $10 billion project right, once and for all.

“The Coalition Government’s rush to deliver this project has now caught up with them," Mr Lyons said.

"After spending years denying there is an issue, two hours of questioning in Senate Estimates yesterday has demonstrated the extent to which this project is at risk of collapse.

“It is time the Government admitted that there are issues warranting investigation and called an open, transparent and independent inquiry into inland rail. 

"Until they do, we are calling on our members and other affected landowners to refuse to engage with the ARTC so that we finally get the answers we deserve.”

Mr Lyons said NSW Farmers have been consulting with the ARTC and the Australian Government, however feel they are still being ignored. 

“At community meeting after community meeting, our members have been clear – unless answers are provided, they would refuse to engage," Mr Lyons said.  

"We have had meaningful discussions with ARTC’s Inland rail CEO Richard Wankmuller, but we feel ignored by other senior leaders of the ARTC and the Deputy Prime Minister."

Mr Lyons has called on the NSW National Leader John Barilaro to use his influence within the party and call on his Federal colleagues to sort out this important project.

“John Barilaro told a NSW Farmers forum in Dubbo last week that there are ‘barnacles’ on this project and that the Federal Government has to sort this out," Mr Lyons said.  

"If the government in Canberra won’t take action then we will turn to the NSW Government to ensure they use their planning powers to demand changes to this project that are in the best interests of landowners.”