Inland Rail project will bring new investment to Narrabri

When the Inland Rail project is built, it will be the most transformative project Narrabri and the people who call it home have seen in their lives.

But we have to get it built. Inland Rail will bring tens of millions of dollars of new investment into town. It will create fresh opportunities for existing businesses while supporting the establishment and growth of new businesses that will employ your sons, daughters, grandchildren, and all those who come after.

Narrabri will be the next big regional hub, connecting to Newcastle and Melbourne in the south and Brisbane and, ultimately, Gladstone in the north. Why? Because Narrabri, with its grain, cotton, wool, beef, coal, gas and other valuable commodities we sell to the world, is the most logical location.

Removing a link from a chain weakens it. To remove Narrabri from the Inland Rail route would undermine the entire 1,716-kilometre project.

We must drive ahead with this project for the benefit of Narrabri and our nation.

Delaying construction would bring additional costs, which would threaten our ability to gain further funding beyond the $14.5 billion dollars that we have secured to realise the great dream of building the Inland Rail.

This week in Narrabri, I came to listen to the concerns about the proposed route. I am not an engineer, so I will listen to others and I will always consider them, and I will take the advice of the experts.

In any project, we have so many studies that have to be completed, such as environmental studies that go for years when any new path is proposed.

It is the experts who have undertaken the work that has informed the chosen route of the Inland Rail. This has been done through the course of numerous studies over the last decade or more.

There are many towns along the route that want something changed. These are considered, investigated and costed. All towns, however, want the economic benefits the Inland Rail will bring because they are too great to miss out on.

Changes create delays we cannot afford. Ultimately, this effects how quickly we can bring the wealth to Narrabri that the Inland Rail will generate.

A change in government could see the delays used as a convenient excuse to stall the project for years.

They won't say they'll cancel the project, but they will just kick it into the long grass.

We have worked so hard to reach this point, fighting for decades for the Inland Rail.

I know, as Mark Coulton and I fought for and secured the first major tranche of funding in the 2016 Coalition Agreement.

I recognise the concerns people have and understand they need to be considered, but we must not delay the project or we risk it being delayed beyond our lifetime.

That would be the greatest shame for the people of Narrabri.

Originally published in the Narrabri Courier, 17 March 2022