Transcript - Narrabri Doorstop

TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP IN NARRABRI
6 SEPTEMBER 2018

E&OE

Subjects: Inland Rail

QUESTION:

Alright Mark, I guess could you kick off. Just give us a bit of an overview about what’s going on today.

MARK COULTON:

The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and myself are here with mayor Cathy Redding and other representatives of the Narrabri Council to a roundtable with local businesses and businesses from further afield to look at the opportunities that will arise from the Inland Rail- to talk about the processes for tendering, for procurement, for employment. There’s a lot of excitement about the Inland Rail coming through and you can tell by the turnout that’s here today that people are really interested to find out how it’s going to impact them and how they can take advantage of it.

QUESTION:

And from your discussions with the locals, I guess, what sort of concerns have been raised and how are they being addressed at this point.

MARK COULTON:

Obviously there’s the opportunity for people who might want to take part in contracting. There are concerns obviously with people who are having the line through their properties and there’s a process going through now with the environmental impact statement to help ease through that. But probably over the next 12 months it’s going to be a difficult time for those people as they go through the process of narrowing that corridor down from five kilometres wide down to 50 or 60 metres wide. But it is an opportunity over the next 12 months for those people, landholders, to be engaged in the process and to have input so that if the line is going through their place, it will have the least impact as possible.

QUESTION:

I can only assume that a lot of these landholders would greatly benefit from the Inland Rail though as primary producers once it’s all ready to go?

MARK COULTON:

Yes. I think at the moment it’s sort of dawning on people as to the opportunities that will arise, but obviously landholders that are impacted would need to deal with where it’s going to be on their property and how it’s going to impact them first. But there will be wonderful opportunities for farmers and businesses right throughout the corridor: more efficiency in the freight network, cheaper freight rates and access to every capital city in Australia, as well as many export ports. So there are wonderful opportunities around the corner with Inland Rail.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Beautiful.

MARK COULTON:

Michael.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

It’s great to be here in Narrabri with Mark Coulton. No one understands the benefits of Inland Rail better than Mark Coulton, not just because he’s the Member for Parkes, but also because he’s the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. And more trade means more jobs and Mark has been out and about the Asia-Pacific region talking up the food and fibre of this wonderful region, talking up the opportunities for Australian farmers, for Australian regional small businesses and how they can take advantage of the markets that we’ve been able to open. Just last weekend, Scott Morrison was in Indonesia talking trade, signing deals with the Indonesians. And this follows on from a previous trade arrangement this year that we’ve had with Peru. This follows on from the $13.3 trillion opportunity with the Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 and of course we’ve got free trade deals with South Korea, with Japan, with China. Now, the people who stand to benefit the most from those trade deals are New South Wales farmers, are farmers right here in Narrabri and surrounding shires. They’re going to be able to take advantage of that, certainly through the Inland Rail. And just yesterday, the Parkes to Narromine environmental impact statement was agreed upon with the Governments. So that’s an important step. The first 600 tonnes of steel were dropped off at Peak Hill in Central Western New South Wales on 15 January.

So the Inland Rail is happening. It’s coming. It’s going to be built and there are going to be thousands of jobs just in the construction phase, let alone the opportunities that this is going to create once it is built, once it’s up and running... making sure that we get product from farm gate and small businesses in regional, north western New South Wales to port and to those market opportunities that have been created thanks to the Liberal Nationals government and thanks to the hard work of Mark Coulton. Great to be here too with Cathy Redding, the mayor of Narrabri. I know she’s excited too about the opportunities that Inland Rail is going to create, not just for her constituents, not just for the Narrabri Shire, but indeed all the areas around. This is a great news story and this is made possible because the Liberal and Nationals Federal Government is really committed to making sure that we continue the investment, and the growth, and the prosperity of regional New South Wales and regional Australia.

QUESTION:

You mentioned the Parkes to Narromine EIS is all agreed upon and ready to go. When will we be seeing the Narrabri to Narromine leg in the same position?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well, that planning is happening as we speak and so you know, as Mark said, we need to get the corridor nearer to that 50 or 60 metres. At the moment, in some parts, its 5 kilometres but we need to obviously get that final alignment sorted, that final route arranged and then we can work on it. But I’m absolutely pleased that Warren Truss, the ARTC chair, and Richard Wankmuller the CEO of the ARTC, are working with stakeholders and working with communities; and they’re listening to the concerns and the issues. But I say again, the Inland Rail is going to bring great prosperity. I appreciate there are still some concerns, I understand that. I’m a son of a generational farming family and I understand that when you have nation-building infrastructure for some, it is going to have an impact on their properties.  But overall the benefits are enormous, particularly for places such as Narrabri and particularly for Mark Coulton’s electorate of Parkes; the benefits are going to be huge – getting that food and fibre we produce it in its very best quality here in Australia; the Asian market, the bourgeoning middle class want it and we can take advantage of that. We have to have the infrastructure in place to be able to do just that.

QUESTION:

I guess, always thinking of the drought at the moment; once the Inland Rail is up and running, could that potentially help should we fall into a drought in the next 10 years or something, as far as moving food around the country?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well look, it certainly can. And look, the drought is having a crippling effect on many farmers, on many rural businesses, on many regional communities at the moment. We’ll get through this drought, we always do; and sure, as night follows day, another drought will follow in the years ahead. We have to be better prepared. I’m very pleased that the Federal Government has placed investment opportunities and an instant write-off for those people, who buy silos and fodder storage in the years of investment. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to do that – that ability to write off those sorts of things, that sort of infrastructure on farm is really important and that follows on of course, from our water infrastructure tax initiatives that we’ve done previously. But we have to be better prepared for the drought and certainly we’ve had that conversation and certainly we are having those discussions in Canberra at the moment. There are other provisions that the Federal Government, in conjunction with state governments, must, can, and will do as far as the drought is concerned.

I’m pleased at the moment – I’ve just come from Wagga Wagga, my hometown, where it’s actually raining. Now there already is green tinge on the ground in and around the Riverina and that’s good, but there’s no subsoil moisture. You come further north and they haven’t had any rain or very little rain at all; and up in the South West and outback Western Queensland, there’s been no rain whatsoever. So, we’re working with those communities; we’re working with those small businesses; and we’re working with particularly, the farmers. I’m delighted that Barnaby Joyce has hit the ground as the Special Drought Envoy and also very pleased that Major-General Stephen Day as the National Coordinator for the Drought is really getting in those communities, listening to their concerns and conveying them to Canberra. I know Pip Job is doing a great job as New South Wales Drought Coordinator – Pip and Major-General Day, as well as Barnaby, are coordinating the government efforts to see what we can do and how we can do it better.

QUESTION:

Beautiful.

QUESTION:

Okay. Thank you very much.

QUESTION:

Cathy, would you like to say a few words or? Just as far as keeping regional communities alive; thousands of jobs created; and obviously, everything’s a flow on.

CATHY REDDING:

Yeah. Absolutely. It’s a privilege to hold this event here at Narrabri today, a roundtable event; and the purpose of the event is for, not only local, but regional businesses and industries to get an idea of what they might need to do to take advantage of this nation-changing infrastructure - Inland Rail, when it comes through. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. We are very excited about it.

QUESTION:

Beautiful. Thank you all very much. 

 

Hannah Maguire