Staley calls on Daniel Andrews to commit to full Murray Basin Rail project

Ripon MP Louise Staley has called on the Andrews Government to avoid missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity and fully commit to the Murray Basin Rail project.

Ripon MP Louise Staley has called on the Andrews Government to avoid missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity and fully commit to the Murray Basin Rail project.

Ripon farmers, and the local economy are poised to greatly benefit from the project would see The Maryborough to Ararat rail line refurbished as well as the Dunolly to Manangatang line standardised.

Following the sale of Rural Finance Corporation for approximately $400 million, the Liberal-National Government set aside $220 million of those funds for the Murray Basin Rail Project in the 2014/15 Budget.

The Coalition Government understood that upgrading and standardising rail freight lines was vital to the growth and competitiveness of Victoria’s grain and horticultural industries, by allowing farmers to get their produce to ports more efficiently and cheaply.

However Daniel Andrews has failed to explain what he plans to deliver under the Murray Basin Rail Project or how much he will spend.

Ms Staley said If Labor continues to fail to commit to the $220 million, the Coalition fears money will be taken from the project and sent to prop up commitments in Melbourne – and a second-rate Murray Basin Rail Project will be the result.

“This project is critical for grain farmers across Ripon, this will make it easier and more affordable for local producers to export their produce”. Ms Staley said.

“Daniel Andrews has quickly built a reputation as a city centric premier; he needs to stop neglecting country Victoria and focus on crucial projects like Murray Basin Rail”

“Farmers across Ripon and Western Victoria cannot afford the State Government stalling on this issue, this project needs to be actioned immediately”.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said this project gives local farmers better access to the states ports and needed to be a priority for The State Government.

“The Racing Minister needs to come out of his hiding hole and face up to disappointed Avoca residents and answer their questions in person”

“The Coalition has listened to the industry and we know they do not want a piecemeal, half-hearted upgrade – if it’s going to be done, it needs to be done properly”. Mr Walsh said.

“Given Daniel Andrews just spent at least $640 million to not build a road in Melbourne it would be an insult to country Victorians if he were to not spend $220 million to upgrade critical freight rail infrastructure”.