Parkes is gearing up to host the 2018 Inland Rail Conference as the construction of the Parkes to Narromine section of the national project edges closer.
Parkes is co-hosting this inaugural conference with the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) on July 18 and 19 at the Parkes Leagues Club.
More than 300 people have registered to attend, representing governments, councils, rail and freight industries and farming communities.
REX Airlines will also be running additional services for the occasion and accommodation in town is almost booked out.
The event will bring together key players involved in the Inland Rail project to discuss how the nationally significant infrastructure project will transform the movement of freight in Australia, what it means for the Australian freight industry and the benefits it will deliver for national freight customers.
The conference will also explore the importance of the Inland Rail Project to the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, now being developed by the Federal Government for release in late 2018.
Among the 26 confirmed speakers are Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack; Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese; NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey; and NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales John Barilaro.
Also speaking will be Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director John Fullerton, Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Vale, Port of Melbourne CEO Brendan Bourke, Woolworths Chief Supply Chain Officer Paul Graham, NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen and Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM.
The conference will begin with a welcome reception on the evening of Tuesday, July 17.
Wednesday, July 18 will see the conference begin with keynote speeches and that night will be the official conference dinner at the leagues club.
Discussions will continue on Thursday, July 19, with a site visit between 1pm and 4pm to a number of freight facilities in Parkes concluding the conference.
The best advantage going for Parkes when it comes to the Inland Rail is its location.
Parkes is the only point where both the east-west rail line (Sydney to Perth) and the Inland Rail line (Melbourne to Brisbane) cross.
Cr Keith is proud Parkes is hosting the conference.
“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the National Logistics Hub and what we’ve been planning to do,” he said.
“Parkes has been a big promoter of the Inland Rail and [the ALC and ARA] know the role we’ve played.
“The Parkes to Narromine section is also the first leg of construction of the Inland Rail.”
In 2006 Parkes hosted an Inland Rail promotional conference that saw 300-400 people attend.
“That conference was to make people aware of the opportunities in our communities,” Cr Keith said.
Parkes is among a small minority of councils who are members of the ALC, having been involved for six or seven years.
“[The membership] was to help promote the National Logistic Hub to industry stakeholders,” Cr Keith said.
“It’s highly beneficial for Parkes by putting Parkes on the map.”