House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Inland Rail

2:13 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. On 30 November last year, I asked a question in the House calling for sufficient funding for rail precincts in the Indi towns affected by the Inland Rail project. Since then, the government has announced an additional $5.5 billion to the Inland Rail project. This is more than 50 per cent of the initial budget. How much of this will be spent on increasing the budget in the Inland Rail upgrades in Wangaratta, Glenrowan, Benalla and Euroa to deliver outcomes that meet community expectations?

2:14 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

In my previous answer, I talked about the COVID recession. If there's one project in the infrastructure space that's helping us build out of the COVID recession, it is the Inland Rail. I know it is important for the member in her seat in Victoria, and I will get to the specifics of her question in a short while. For the Narromine-to-Parkes section, the first section of the Inland Rail, 99 businesses have benefited to the tune of $110 million. That's delivery. I know the member is particularly interested in the fact that we've allocated more money to the rollout of Inland Rail. That was necessary because it's gone from, in many parts, a desktop analysis and the design work right through to actual delivery where there's more connection with roadways and there's more necessity to provide those separations. The initial outlay for Inland Rail has been increased. That's because we've seen the additional scope required and, as a good government, we've sensibly budgeted for it. That's what you'd expect a good government to do, of course, and we've done that with full engagement of the local communities.

In the member's state, the Inland Rail is going to deliver an expected $8 billion boost to Victoria's gross state product—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll just ask the minister to pause for a second. I'm conscious he's almost halfway through his allotted time and the question was very specific about how much would be spent on certain locations to meet community expectations. I'd just ask him to be relevant to the question or, if he doesn't have the material at hand, perhaps provide it in another way.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I've directed ARTC to work with local communities, including those local communities within the member for Indi's electorate. In response to local interest, community working groups were established in Euroa and Benalla—I appreciate she mentioned Wangaratta too—to collaborate on the detailed design for station precincts and to consult on the engineering solution to raise or relocate existing infrastructure to accommodate double-stacked trains.

We will, of course, continue to engage the ARTC with local communities. I'm very happy to pass on your concerns to the ARTC. They're working collaboratively and consultatively with those local communities. Constructive engagement with the working group in Euroa has enabled the ARTC to incorporate the aspirations of the local council and community, including what's called a 'creating a civic precinct' document, into the requirements for early contractor involvement. ARTC will continue to engage local communities and, most importantly, establish those groups and shopfronts where people can acquire a job and where local businesses can acquire procurement. That's what Inland Rail is all about. Whilst I appreciate there are local stations which the member would like to see upgraded, that's also a matter for the state government in Victoria.