I am writing in response to the commentary made by Mark Coulton MP regarding landholders 'shutting the gate' on the Inland Rail project. Mr Coulton continues to misrepresent the concerns of the community he calls a "group of families".
He fails to mention the "family" includes NSW Farmers, who 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".
The "group of families" includes hundreds of impacted farms and properties all along the NSW and QLD alignment study area.
Mr Coulton cites 10 years of research and studies into the Inland Rail route, but fails to inform the readers that this research was thrown out by ATRC when they drastically altered the route for hundreds of kilometres in NSW and QLD.
This alteration occurred with less than six months of new "research". Many impacted landholders had no consultation and only found out their properties were in the new alignment area after ARTC's announcement two weeks before Christmas 2017.
Little wonder landholders and NSW Farmers are angry and frustrated as they see this important nation building project's potential squandered and ruined through lack of consultation, haste and poor planning. In the Narromine to Burroway section alone, dozens of landholders had no consultation prior to the alignment change.
ARTC had no interest in talking with impacted families or looking at their properties before they made a decision to change the route. Now they need property access to check soils, flooding, safety and social issues for their Environmental Impact Statement - well it's too little too late.
Narromine News readers might be interested to know that ARTC's own documentation has the eastern alignment change costing $37 million dollars more than the original 'concept alignment' which was researched for 10 years. Narromine to Burroway is less than 40 kms of track.
Australia is a great country to live in, second to none. We have hard won freedoms and rights earned by our citizens over hundreds of years.
According to the Australian Law Reform Commission "a decision maker" must "afford a person an opportunity to be heard before making a decision affecting their interests", this fair hearing opportunity requires "prior notice that a decision that may affect a person's interests will be made" and "a substantive hearing with a reasonable opportunity to present a case".
Mr Coulton if you would like to get this project back on track I suggest you liaise with the relevant Minister and Department heads and get them out to talk these landholders.
They want an enquiry to ensure the Inland Rail project is the best it can be without you, the government of the day or any department trampling their hard won rights into the ground.
- Andrew Knop