Over the past two days our region has welcomed funding commitments from Labor towards two key projects included in our 2019 Federal Election Priorities document.
MOUNT ISA TO TOWNSVILLE RAIL LINE
Today from Townsville, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced a $100M commitment towards the Mount Isa to Townsville Rail Line - a critical artery in the north that links us into the multi-billion dollar minerals province - which is very much welcomed and needed for.
With this investment, and the recent floods further highlighting how important this corridor is, we now need the Federal Government to engage with the State Government to address the cost of access and a further upgrade.
The upgrade of the Mount Isa to Townsville Rail Line is not a new project, it is one of national significance and connects our region to a multi-billion dollar industry in the North West. Following the floods, we have been promoting the need now more than ever for a direct response to overhaul this infrastructure and policy setting. We encourage whoever forms the next Federal Government to work cohesively with the Queensland Government upon a 50-year investment and operating model and fast-track this priority.
The Mount Isa to Townsville Rail Line is a nationally recognised Queensland State asset that for some time has not been operating to its full potential. The fact that mining companies have been sending product by road, rather than by rail between Mount Isa and Townsville, is testament to the inefficiencies now experienced by the rail connection and failures in the existing regulatory and pricing models. There is a significant risk to the Queensland economy, in particular the ongoing contribution made by the North and North West, through prolonged disruption to the existing supply chain.
Adding to this risk is the potential of a Mount Isa to Tennant Creek alternative rail connection through to the Port of Darwin, which would have disastrous impacts on our local and state economies. If the development of the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek rail link proceeds, the Townsville North Queensland economy is at risk of losing some or potentially all of the economic activity supported by the NWMP. We need a long-term approach adopted to financially support the operating and funding model for this critical freight corridor to efficiently support mining, agriculture and manufacturing industries in our region.
Yesterday we welcomed Labor's candidate for Herbert, Cathy O'Toole announce a $30M commitment towards Reef HQ in Townsville should the ALP win the election.
Whilst the commitment only partly addresses the refurbishment requirements that would see this asset reclaim its former glory of a world class Great Barrier Reef education and research facility, it is a solid step forward and a great start after years of neglect across successive Governments.
The experiences delivered through Reef HQ are inextricably linked to the ongoing success of the Reef tourism industry and consequently the Queensland and Australian tourism industries, and we encourage all parties across the political divide to commit their support during the election campaign period.
Labor’s funding announcement is a very much welcomed first step in the right direction towards the upgrade of Reef HQ and supporting the development of the national headquarters of the Great Barrier Reef.