The inaugural Inland Rail Summit will be held in Toowoomba in September this year, officially hosted by the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE).
Speaking at the 2022 Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) General Assembly in Canberra last week, Toowoomba Regional Council mayor Paul Antonio said the event would bring all stakeholders together from across the $14.5 billion nation-building rail project.
“The theme of this year’s ALGA 2022 National General Assembly is ‘Partners in Progress’, and that’s why I came to our nation’s capital to seek counsel and expertise from all local governments along the alignment in a bid to leverage as much as we can from the Inland Rail to build prosperity across regional Australia,” he said.
“I see great benefit in bringing together all councils, as well as industry across the alignment, to share insights and opportunities. Inland Rail is a complex project and one that needs the combined effort of local, state and federal governments to be successful.
“I will also be approaching the new Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, to invite her to play a central role in the Inland Rail Summit, as I believe this summit is of national significance.
“I have held talks with Inland Rail managers the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and they have given me a commitment that they will support the event to the hilt. They see the advantages of having such a large body of stakeholders in the same room to address the issues around Inland Rail.”
TSBE chief executive officer Ali Davenport said the summit would establish a forum for collaboration among councils who are looking to create new economic opportunity, to understand the status of Inland Rail and to discuss opportunities to minimise impacts on local communities.
“There are 36 local government areas along the Inland Rail alignment and businesses and communities are looking for certainty so they can continue to plan and get on with delivering the jobs and economic growth this infrastructure will bring,” she said.
“We are looking to bring as many local government, state and federal government agencies and economic development groups along the route together in September.
“The Inland Rail Summit gives us a wonderful opportunity to share our vision for regional Australia and what we can build on the back of Inland Rail.”
Inland Rail interim chief executive Rebecca Pickering praised the initiative, saying local government was the bedrock which underpinned communities, and councillors were the local champions of development of regional Australia and saw first-hand the opportunities and challenges Inland Rail will bring.
“We are working with local government right through the design and delivery process to ensure that Inland Rail is delivered to the highest standards and with minimum disruption to these communities,” she said.
“Inland Rail will bring a new wave of prosperity to regional Australia by the efficient transport of goods around the country or for export.”