Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (13:45): This government is killing off Inland Rail in Queensland and, in doing so, is stripping Australia of one of the most important nation-building projects that this country’s ever known. Nowhere will feel the damage of this decision more than the Toowoomba region, where we’ve been investing and preparing for Inland Rail for years. In a time of failing productivity, we need to be finding ways to do more with less. We now have a private investment in our Toowoomba region lying dormant, doing nothing.
Productivity in this country has gone backwards faster than we’ve ever recorded, dropping six per cent in the last 12 months. It may well be beyond this Labor government to understand how to address failing productivity, but this is an opportunity to let private investment do the heavy lifting and show the way. This decision looks worse when you consider the flatlining freight productivity that Australia is suffering. Our national freight task is increasing significantly—
Ms Lawrence: It’s a shame you shut down all those railway lines!
Mr HAMILTON: more interjections—going up 34 per cent by 2040, an increase of 270 billion tonnes, but our spend on infrastructure has stopped under the 90-day review, which is now the 200-day review.
Thanks to the Schott report delivered in January, which you’ve been sitting on, Inland Rail now ends at a point, without a business case, on a one-lane road in a residential area. This report and the government’s ridiculous support of it effectively kills off Inland Rail in Queensland.
There is a way to save it: pause Inland Rail at Toowoomba. We sit at the junction of the Gore, Warrego and New England highways, intersecting with the western rail line and right next door to Wellcamp Airport, where freight is already being delivered directly into Asia. This would save the project somewhere around $9 billion while ensuring the benefits of Inland Rail are brought into Queensland. This simple solution requires no new engineering or business cases; it simply makes sense.