Freight Rail

QLD Inland Rail consultation committees to meet this week

Julia Creek first freight train. Photo: Queensland Rail

Regional committees established for consultation work on the Inland Rail project’s greenfield sections in Queensland will meet for the first time over the next two days in Inglewood, Pittsworth, Gatton and Yamanto.

Four Inland Rail Community Consultative Committees have been established, with the appointment of independent chairpersons following a nomination process that saw 120 applications, and after consultations with local members of parliament and community leaders.

The committees – which will consist of up to 16 members – have been established to provide channels for communication and feedback between landholders, local businesses, residents and the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

“I expect the ARTC to listen closely to the feedback of these committees who will bring important local experience to the development of the final alignment and design which will mitigate impacts on farms and the environment, including on the Condamine floodplain,” federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester said.

“I will also be asking the chairs of the committees to report to me every six months to receive their views directly, and to be aware of how the consultation process is going and of any issues.”

The chair of the Southern Darling Downs Committee is Graham Clapham, a company chair and director of the peak industry body Central Downs Irrigators Limited and former chair of the Floodplain Committee.

Professor Steven Raine will chair the Inner Darling Downs Committee. Professor Raine established the Agricultural Value Chains Research Group at the University of Southern Queensland and is the inaugural executive director of the university’s Institute for Agriculture and the Environment.

The chairs for the Lockyer Valley and the Scenic Rim Committees are, respectively, Mark Hohenhaus and Katharine Bensted. Hohenhaus is an associate professor of animal science at the University of Queensland and chairs the Teaching and Learning Committee of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the university.

Bensted has served as a councillor on the Scenic Rim Regional Council and the Boonah Shire Council and is currently a member of the Queensland Utilities Reference Group and chair of the Ipswich & West Moreton Regional Development Australia Board.

Each of the committees will focus on the Inland Rail developments in their geographical area. Committee members will consult with members of the community and key stakeholders before presenting findings to the quarterly committee meetings.

Peter Winder, CEO of ARTC’s Inland Rail division, said that that feedback and consultation was key in making sure the project proceeds in the best direction.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Queensland, particularly over the last couple of months, talking directly with landowners. What I hear over and over is that people recognise the huge benefits that Inland Rail can bring to their regions,” Winder said.

“ARTC is focused on designing the best possible project and contributing to the vitality of communities where Inland Rail operates, so it is vital to have as much community input as possible to achieve that.”