Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said today he understands why farmers are protesting over the inland rail route but they needed to consider the “greater good” of the inland rail project.
“I get that,” Mr McCormack said of the protesters who gathered in Parkes’ Cooke Park on Wednesday morning as the inaugural Inland Rail conference commenced.
“I’m the son of a generational farming family, I know when telegraph poles and electricity wires were being put through my father’s property that it was concerning, but for the greater good we accepted the fact that this was happening,” Mr McCormack said.
“It’s part and parcel of nation building infrastructure, I’ve spoken to Gilgandra farmers and farmers along the route, there are certainly some concerned farmers at Stockinbingal and Illabo further south.
“I understand that and we are narrowing the corridor down to 60 metres and that will ease the concerns of some farmers.
“We have used existing track and existing corridors and alignment as much as possible but there will be some greenfield rail, there will be that prospect of the rail going through some properties and we will continue to work with those farmers to make sure they understand the benefits that inland rail will bring,” Mr McCormack said.
Jennifer Knop, who is a member of the Narromine Inland Rail Action Group says they have found “considerable flaws” in the processes involved in selecting the route for the Inland Rail project.
“We have found considerable flaws in it,” Ms Knop said.
“We’re all connected groups, from here up to South East Qld,” Ms Knop said of the groups protesting in Parkes on Wednesday.
“We’re asking for an inquiry into how they selected the routes and a review of that, we are challenging them strongly on their data.
Process is severely flawed, the length of track required is incorrect, the length of the floodplains they have to converse is majorly underestimated.
“We can’t understand in some areas we they have chosen, where it is imperative for these farming areas, not to be transfected, where they are not staying on existing rail.
“They’re not going through the towns that will be able to avail themselves of the rail, they’re not stopping so its of no benefit to our farmers communities.
“We don’t get the opportunity to grow out here in the west,” Ms Knop said.