Expert Panel Finalised for Inland Rail in Queensland
The Australian and Queensland governments have finalised the establishment of the independent panel to assess the flood modelling developed for Inland Rail in Queensland. The panel of five experts have been appointed by the Australian and Queensland Governments to provide the highest level of assurance for the design of Inland Rail.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the panel will ensure national guidelines and industry best practice are followed in the development of flood models and hydraulic designs where Inland Rail crosses floodplains in Queensland.
“We have now finalised the members of the independent panel of international experts and their terms of reference. I welcome Mark Babister, Tina O’Connell, Ferdinand Diermanse, Steve Clark and Martin Giles to this panel and look forward to their advice as they undertake the analysis of the flood modelling developed by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for Inland Rail in Queensland.
“Collectively they have more than 130 years’ of experience and will use their knowledge to analyse existing flood modelling and the proposed engineering solutions against national and state guidelines and industry best practice. This process is independent of the ARTC.
“In doing so they are building on years of work by world-leading companies – which have brought together the latest data on land use, geomorphology, hydrology and hydraulic modelling. This has included a review initiated by the Southern Darling Downs Community Consultative Committee (CCC) undertaken by Dr John Macintosh, who has found ARTC’s flood modelling to be fit for purpose.
“The rigorous approvals process put in place by the Australian and Queensland governments means that before a sod is turned the project has undergone robust and transparent analysis, including independent community feedback and multiple layers of expert peer review.
“The panel will test and provide expert advice on all existing flood models to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose while the ARTC continues to progress the design, consultation and approvals processes required to get construction underway. The Panel is not tasked with reviewing alignment options.
“The Australian Government is committed to pursuing the economic benefits for Queensland with Inland Rail while the Panel conducts its work. These benefits include 7,200 jobs during construction and operation and a boost of more than $7 billion to Gross State product.
“This infrastructure project is about more than construction; Inland Rail will boost productivity in Australia’s freight and transport network by reducing heavy vehicle congestion and providing easier access for regional producers to capital cities.”
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey congratulated the panel members on their appointment and emphasised their contribution would ensure floodplain and river crossings are constructed safely.
“The independent panel of experts will provide assurance to Queenslanders and test the flood modelling that underpins the Inland Rail design in Queensland as scientifically sound and robust and take into account the knowledge and experience of communities that live and work on these floodplains,” Minister Bailey said.
“The panel members’ conclusions will also inform the Queensland Coordinator General’s assessment of ARTC’s draft Environmental Impact Statements for this state. The findings of the panel will be publicly released once their work has been completed.
“The panel’s comprehensive evaluation of existing flood modelling and reference designs combined with requirements under Commonwealth and state planning laws means Queenslanders can be confident we are leaving no stone unturned in the assurance that design of floodplain and river crossings meet with national and state engineering requirements.”
The terms of reference for the independent panel were finalised following a period of public consultation in April.
Stakeholders will have the opportunity to monitor the panel’s progress through published reports. They will also be able to make submissions to the panel on matters relating to flood modelling for Inland Rail in Queensland at InlandRailFloodPanel@tmr.qld.gov.au
For more information on the independent panel of international experts, including the terms of reference, visit www.inlandrail.gov.au
Mr McCormack – Tess Salmon 0467 740 017
Mr Bailey – Toby Walker 0439 947 875