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10 September 2019

Portland freight rail must become priority for government

The Andrews Labor Government has botched the Murray Basin Rail Project and is leaving the Port of Portland at a competitive disadvantage, Member for South West Coast and Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight Roma Britnell says.

Ms Britnell said the Andrews Labor Government needed to take responsibility and complete the important project to standardise Victoria’s rail freight network to the original scope.

She said the project was supposed to create an even playing field between Victoria’s three key ports at Melbourne, Geelong and Portland – but the rail line to Portland has been completely forgotten about and left off the plan.

“If nothing is done, the Portland to Maroona Line will have lower weight limits that the rest of the network, creating greater inefficiencies for those producers wanting to export out of the Port of Portland,” she said.  

“If the Andrews Labor Government is serious about supporting rural and regional producers, is serious about growing the Port of Portland and serious about encouraging more freight onto rail it will make the upgrade of the Portland to Maroona line a priority.”

Ms Britnell said Transport infrastructure Minster Jacinta Allen is now trying to blame everyone else for her monumental stuff up

“The fact is the problem starts and finishes with her and the Labor Government,” Ms Britnell said.

“Her first thought was to palm it off to a national agency. That suggestion has angered the Rail Freight Alliance who have started a campaign called Save Our Tracks, which I proudly support.

“To complete the job to it’s original scope, without taking shortcuts, it would cost about the same as the removal of one level crossing in Melbourne.

“The Andrews Labor Government continually talks up its rural and regional credentials, but when push comes to shove it shows that rather than spend extra money outside Melbourne, it will blame everyone else and look for a cheap and nasty fix.”