AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Fischer to tackle Victorian freight issues `with an open mind’

<p>APT Freightlink director, outgoing Tourism Australia chairman, former deputy prime minister and rail buff Tim Fisher would have his first meeting as head of the Victorian Government’s review of the state’s rail freight network with taskforce members on July 9, he told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> today (Friday, June 22).</p> <p>The comprehensive review was unveiled by rail minister Lynn Kosky on Wednesday and will get under way on July 1, the day after Mr Fischer steps down from Tourism Australia.</p> <p>Mr Fischer would not be drawn on recent issues in the sector, including Victorian Farmers Federation criticism of grain access charges or the loss of the CRT’s Dynon container shuttle service, nor on calls for subsidies to support container shuttle services.</p> <p>&#41392 There are a raft of issues which the committee will be looking at,&#41393 he said.</p> <p>&#41392 I don’t prejudge anything and I approach them, with my fellow committee members, with an open mind.&#41393</p> <p>He did say the state had experienced a &#41392 stop-start litany of challenges over recent decades &#8211 other states, such as South Australia, also have problems&#41393 but intermodal operations, such at Parkes, were a template. </p> <p>Though the terms of reference were intra-state, he hoped the inquiry’s findings would furnish useful advice for cross-border co-operation issues in areas, such as southeast SA and southwest New South Wales, and expected to work closely with the Australian Rail Track Corporation.</p> <p>Mr Fisher was comfortable with the five-month timeframe for the inquiry, which will undertake public hearings on dates yet to be fixed, and with the makeup of committee, though he had no input into its formation.</p> <p>Asked about his familiarity with Victorian rail freight issues, Mr Fisher, who now farms near Myrtleford in the state’s northeast, said: &#41392 I used to represent the greater Mildura area north of the border and watched with delight Ken Wakefield and the Merbien-Port of Melbourne rail operation over the last decade.</p> <p>&#41392 I now live in Victoria and have studied rail freight for decades in a policy sense and a practical sense, and the third leg to it, I would suggest, is that I declare I am a director of APT Freightlink, which operates, among other things, a Northern Territory-direct link from Dynon to Darwin. </p> <p>&#41392 So, I’ve got both a working and a general familiarity.&#41393</p> <br />