AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Inland rail line to receive federal support but not this year

<p>The proposed inland rail line between Melbourne and Queensland, might not receive federal support this year but tax cuts should be put on hold to ensure that such projects get off the ground, deputy prime minister Mark Vaile said yesterday (Monday, January 1).</p> <p>Mr Vaile told the <em>Australian</em> that it was unclear if the $3bn inland project was &#8220well enough advanced&#8221 to be given funding, but that the government would support the project if it also had private backing.</p> <p>"Between ourselves and the private sector, I think we can probably do it, but I think there’s a bit more work to do," Mr Vaile said.</p> <p>The Surat Basin rail line, to carry coal from southern Queensland to Gladstone, was also a priority.</p> <p>"There’s been an approach made to the Commonwealth to provide some funding – certainly not a major share &#8211 to ensure it gets built, not just with narrow gauge line but so it’s also got standard gauge," he said. </p> <p>"We’re also having a look at that and I am very interested in that because it will be a critical piece of export infrastructure for the next decade or more for coal exports out of Queensland. </p> <p>"It means we can have proper competition on the line and it’s much more efficient for the coal operators because on standard gauge, you can carry much better loads." </p> <p>Mr Vaile said urgent investment in infrastructure would come at a cost, citing the need to limit tax cuts this year.</p> <p>"We have made great progress in terms of tax cuts in recent years, but we have to strike the balance between tax cuts and infrastructure investment,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220It’s interesting that when you look at recent polling, often infrastructure investment rates higher than more tax cuts. </p> <p>"People want to see the product of a well-run country being spent back into the country for the benefit of all the people.&#8221</p> <br />