Paul Antonio
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio

May 25, 2020

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio has been appointed chair of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance (MBIRA), the group which represents councils adjacent to the Inland Rail route.

He replace Moree Plains Shire Council Councillor Sue Price who has stepped down after two years in the role.

“MBIRA has been a tireless advocate for the Inland Rail since well before the Federal Government endorsed it and handed it to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to design and construct in 2018,” Cr Price said.

“MBIRA’s advocacy is still vital to make sure the project gets finished in time, to world’s best-practice standards and to future-proof eastern Australia’s freight networks.

“More than $8 billion will be pumped into the communities in the corridor, at least 75 per cent to local industry and workers. It can be the post-COVID boost that the Snowy River Scheme was post-World War II.”

Mayor Antonio agreed, saying the Inland Rail project was key to stimulating the economy in the next 12-24 months..

“My biggest worry at present is for any potential delays there may be in relation to the Inland Rail,” he said.

“I know that private industry is poised to get right behind this project but they need certainty in order to invest.

“Let’s get on and get it done, to the highest standards, with the needs of affected landholders addressed and compensation paid to those for whom the impact cannot be eliminated.”

* * *

Ongoing pressure from landholders on the Condamine River floodplain seems to have paid off with confirmation on Monday that an alternative route for the Inland Rail would be considered in regional Queensland.

A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack confirmed the government would review an alternative route.

The Millmerran Rail Group (MRG) has been been pressing for the change since 2016.

It says the preferred route would have a significant impact on local farmers.

They claim the rail line will split properties and be prone to flooding,  especially along a 16km stretch on the floodplain.

MRG chairman Wes Judd told media on Monday an alternative route west of Millmerran would ensure the Inland Rail connected with Wellcamp Airport.

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud has previously called for an urgent investigation into an alternative route.

Mayor Antonio – the former mayor of Millmerran Shire Council and a founding director of the Condamine Alliance – has also pressed in the past for an alternative route.

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