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Source: Australian Ministers for Regional Development

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

Good morning, you’re with Cameron here. This is the brekky show here on 2VN and a very special project, we’ve been talking about it with local Mayors for the past couple of months or so, but here to make it official is the Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton and also the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. Good morning, gentlemen.

MARK COULTON

Morning, Cameron.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Morning, Cameron.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

And it’s a pretty momentous occasion here. I see you brought the big guns up to Moree with Michael McCormack. How important is this project for people in the north?

MARK COULTON

Look, this is Stage 2 of 13 stages for the project. So, two years ago we did the sod turn for Parkes to Narromine, it’s now completed and running trains. This is a big deal, Cameron. So it’s a 171-kilometre section, that’s Narrabri to North Star and it will make an enormous difference, not only for the construction period – obviously it’s going to be a huge shot in the arm for all the communities, Moree, Cropper Creek, North Star, Bellata, Gurley, all those places will get, you know, a boost over the next couple of years. But in the long term the efficient freight for local produce is going to provide huge savings to farmers.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

Fantastic. I might go to you, Michael McCormack. Tell us some of the facts about these Inland Rail projects. 25,000 tonnes of steel, is that right?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Twenty-five thousand tonnes of Whyalla, Australian steel, so that’s even better. There’s 224,939 sleepers from a Wagga Wagga company. I come from Wagga Wagga so that’s great. Mark would say it’s the best thing to come out of Wagga Wagga to this area for quite some time.

MARK COULTON

There’s lots of sleepers that come from Wagga Wagga.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I knew he’d have a crack somewhere along the line, Cameron. A bit of friendly fire. But, look, it is a great project and as Mark has just said, 500 jobs. The local procurement, I know in the first section, Narromine to Parkes, hundreds upon hundreds of jobs but, indeed, 99 small local businesses benefitted to the tune of $110 million of procurement. So they’re big numbers.

That money flows throughout the area and Mark knows that jobs are so important, particularly as we come out of hopefully what is the back of COVID-19 and of course, the drought and so many other things have affected regional Australia, but Mark’s in there fighting. He’s been an advocate of this since before he got even into Parliament but certainly his first speech he was talking about Inland Rail, talking about the benefits of getting product from paddock to port within 24 hours and that’s what the Inland Rail brings.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

And Mark, tell us exactly how many jobs are going to be created with this new scheme and especially locally.

MARK COULTON

So in this section, Cameron, about 500 jobs through construction. It’s a nearly $700 million project. It’s about $692 million, so that’s considerable. That’s direct jobs. And then, you know, like the flow-on, as Michael said, local contractors, local stores. I know the folks up at the Cropper Creek store are gearing up for the extra people coming through and that will flow right through. Even this morning showing Michael the delights of having breakfast in a cafe in Moree and there were three or four tables of people there from Inland Rail. So, you know, that flows through, right through nearly every business in town.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

And you’re just about to head off to a stakeholder event, can you tell us a bit more about that?

MARK COULTON

So the sod turn, very pleased to have my friend and colleague Michael McCormack in town. It’s a great honour to have the Deputy Prime Minister visit but it’s also a great honour to bring together, so I have Ron Campbell, the Mayor of Narrabri, Katrina Humphries, Mayor of here. My brother, John Coulton, the Mayor of Gwydir.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

My favourite Coulton.

MARK COULTON

And local community members as well because the councils here have really – they’ve really worked hard for this project as well. You know these projects, Cameron, aren’t without disruption. You know, it does cause some difficulties for some people but the councils have seen the long-term benefits. They’re planning what comes off the Inland Rail. You know, we’ve got the Special Activation Precinct here in Moree. We’ve got the inland port in Narrabri, you know, there would be an intermodal at Cropper Creek. All of those projects, you know, take a lot of planning but the benefits long term are immense.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

And what’s the time frame for this project to be completed?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It’s going to take several years because it’s still a working line and so it will take several years, so that’s several years of local jobs. Several years of local procurement. So whilst it will take some time, and of course the whole project, 1,700 kilometres, will be finished in the mid-2020s. This is a major project and it’s one of the most significant projects to come to this area for a while, for some time. And we’re very proud of it and we know the benefits that it will bring, not just in the construction phase but certainly post-construction when those – that product and we get some of the best product from Coulton’s electorate of Parkes to port and of course, we can increase our export opportunities as a result.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

And that will be great news for growers as well, won’t it, because a lot of green goes through here, especially down to Newcastle and up to Gladstone and stuff. So it might make it a lot easier.

MARK COULTON

It will give a lot of options. You know, the possibility of grain from southern Queensland, actually, to go out the Port of Newcastle, you know, if there’s a deal going from a shipping company like that, but even now, you know, under the current network, local farmers here are sending barley to a malt in Geelong. It takes them a couple of days to get that train through the network at the moment. So the efficiency of running a train, you know, say from Cropper Creek to Geelong, because they’ve got the special barley that, you know, there’s only one place that can process it, the cost per tonne for that operation will be enormous and that’s just one example of the savings that we’ll get.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us today, gentlemen. I know you’ve got the stakeholder event and the monumentous turning of the sod a little bit later on, 8:30am or something like that?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Around about then.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

So I won’t keep you any longer.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

A momentous occasion.

CAMERON SCOTT-BOHANNA

Thanks very much for joining us today guys and all the best.

MARK COULTON

Thanks, Cameron.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thanks, Cameron.

8:19AM

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