House debates

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Questions without Notice

Inland Rail

2:08 pm

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. Is the minister concerned about the impact of the government's Inland Rail route on agricultural businesses on the Condamine flood plain. If so, what is he doing about it?

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for her question. Yes, I do have concerns. In fact, I've been very public about those concerns. It is prime agricultural land. It is a complex flood plain which Inland Rail is proposing to go across. This is an important piece of infrastructure for our nation. Obviously, I have been working very closely with the farmers there. They are pragmatic people. They want an engineering solution to something that is very difficult to get. That is why I have had many conversations with Mr Richard Wankmuller, the CEO of ARTC, about some of those concerns that go back to the baseline hydrology. In fact, we have a meeting next week in Sydney to go through that with hydrologists from both the farming group and ARTC to make sure that those baseline hydrology parameters are set, and then the engineering solution that fits that hydrology is put in place. That is a calm, methodical approach to a key piece of infrastructure. I will stand with those farmers, who I represent and I know personally. They have significant businesses. They are important to this nation's economy. They are important to those communities. We will work through this in a calm, methodical way but ensure that this is predicated on science and engineering, not on emotion.