Billions spent on roads, rail will benefit us all

Opinion Piece

DCO-003/2017

12 April 2017

The Weekly Times

Connectivity in all its forms is critical to the future growth and prosperity of regional Victoria.

Keeping our communities connected with better roads, rail services, airports and telecommunication links provides more opportunities for people to live and work outside of the increasingly congested greater Melbourne area.

All levels of Government need to work in partnership with industry and the community to prioritise infrastructure investment decisions, which address community needs now, and into the future.

We need to be focused on building the infrastructure that our kids and grandkids will thank us for.

I recently announced a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, which will help to inform some of those decisions and provide an investment blueprint for the future.  Getting our products to market in a cost effective and timely manner will help us to capitalise on Free Trade Agreements and deliver more jobs in regional areas.

Projects, like the Murray Basin Rail Project, are already underway and will make a real difference in the north-west of the state.

In the not too distant future, the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail line will allow for more freight to be taken off the roads and transported by rail along the eastern seaboard more efficiently. It is an historic project that will provide benefits to communities along its route and our nation as a whole.

Connecting our freight products to market is one thing, connecting our communities is even more important.

Last year the Federal Government was able to negotiate a $3 billion infrastructure deal in partnership with the Victorian Government to help get our state moving again. Those projects are rolling out across Victoria: creating safer roads and better transport links.

There's no secret that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also wants the Commonwealth to be an active partner in passenger rail projects and I have been meeting with the Victorian government about possible projects.

It is too early to speculate on the outcomes of those discussions but both levels of government recognise the value of connecting regional communities to Melbourne and providing better links within each part of the state.

Travelling by rail for work, medical appointments, or leisure needs to be improved in regional Victoria with a more reliable network and greater frequency of services.

I am confident that the Federal Government can make a real difference for regional Victorians.