Victorian farmers were disappointed that in last week’s federal budget there was no more funding for the Murray Basin Rail Project.
While a business case has reportedly been prepared for the resumption of upgrade works to standardise freight rail lines in the north-west of the state, the funding initially committed has run out and Victorian Farmers Federation David Jochinke said the project needs to continue.
“For the Murray Basin Rail Project to miss out on funding is incredibly disappointing,” Jochinke said.
“The onus is now on the Victorian government to show leadership and commit to funding the project as promised as we enter its sixth year of construction.”
In an interview with ABC radio Ballarat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said it was up to the Victorian government to release the business case before federal funding could be committed.
“[The Victorian government] needs to come up with that business case to release it so that there’s full transparency, full accountability. The federal government has already contributed more than $240 million and I’m happy to continue to work with the Victorian government.”
The Rail Freight Alliance, a grouping of councils across Victoria, said that both governments needed to work together to ensure the project is completed.
“The Mexican standoff between the federal and Victorian government is a convenient out for both governments, it doesn’t solve the problem and leaves the people of Victoria and the nation poorer for it,” the group said in a statement.
The Rail Freight Alliance said the Murray Basin Rail Project was an ideal project to get the state’s economy moving again.
“This project ticks all the boxes, it’s shovel ready, will boost jobs, attract private investment, support businesses to recover and grow, enhance Victoria’s growing exports and freight task. Now is the time to invest in this nation building project.”