The freight rail line between Maroona and Portland is currently on a fast track to nowhere.
Leased by the Victorian government to the Australian Rail Track Corporation, a lack of investment in track upgrades has led to the speed limit being lowered from 80 kilometres per hour to 40 kilometres per hour.
As a vital link to the port of Portland and at a time when Victoria needs to recover and rebuild, we again have another perfect example of the Victorian government treating regional Victoria with contempt.
The port of Portland, being a deepwater port, is more efficient for producers because ships can be filled to greater capacity. This in turn negates the need to stop at other ports to top up loads.
It is estimated an upgrade to the Maroona to Portland line would remove almost 70 000 truck trips per
year, and that is just for grain.
That is 70 000 additional truck trips on our rural and regional roads, which as anyone who has driven on them would know are in many places crumbling and dangerous.
We are also seeing growing export markets for mineral sands, with a project near Horsham expected
to bring 1 million tonnes to Portland each year, but much like our rural roads the government is
ignoring the importance of vital infrastructure in regional Victoria to instead focus on the billions it is
spending on tunnels in Melbourne.
I urge the Victorian government to stop talking about the great job it is doing in regional Victoria and actually step up and fund some of these vital infrastructure projects that will give Victorian producers a competitive advantage.
Funding projects such as the Maroona to Portland freight line would be a good start