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Producers still in the dark on Murray Basin Rail Project

The Andrews Labor Government must release the revised business case for the Murray Basin Rail Project.

The once-in-a-generation opportunity to standardise north-west Victoria’s freight rail network stalled in 2018 after poor management by Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan left the project out-of-money.

New reports indicate the Andrews Government has finally submitted a revised business case to the Federal Government – six months overdue.

Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said producers and transport stakeholders in north-west Victoria were frustrated at being kept in the dark.

“The Andrews Labor Government’s completely botched delivery of the Basin Rail project which has slowed freight trains to a crawl and left transport stakeholders saying they were better off before the project started,” Mr Walsh said.

“A more efficient freight rail connection to domestic and international markets is crucial to ensure our local producers can be competitive and grow the productivity and profitability of their business.

“Minister for Excuses Jacinta Allan owes producers and transport stakeholders in north-west Victoria the truth on how she will get this project back on track by releasing the revised business case.”

A damning Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) report, released in March, found the project has “not met scope, time, cost or quality expectations” under the Andrews Labor Government.

VAGO also found Labor’s cost blowouts left the Basin Rail barely half finished – despite 86.7 per cent of the project’s budget ($381.5 million) being spent.

Mr Walsh said the project must be completed to its original scope, including upgrades to standardise the Sea Lake to Manangatang line.

“Only a fully-standardised and upgraded freight rail network in north-west Victoria will deliver the efficiencies our producers need,” Mr Walsh said.

“Any attempt by Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan to cut costs by not going ahead with upgrading all lines from broad gauge to standard gauge track will make it harder to get product to port.

“It will mean two sets of rolling stock must be run and maintained which leads to higher costs to move freight.

“Minister for Excuses Jacinta Allan has no excuse not to deliver this project within the original and in full.”

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