McVeigh meets with ARTC ahead of first round of consultation
Thursday, 5 October 2017
Federal Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh has met with the Australian Rail Track Corporation ahead of the first round of public meetings on the newly-chosen corridor for the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail corridor.
Dr McVeigh and State Member for Condamine Pat Weir met with the ARTC Chief Executive Officer John Fullerton and other senior executives yesterday to discuss the opening round of meetings and consultation process with potentially affected landholders in the seat of Groom.
“ARTC will start sending letters to landholders in the corridor today to advise them of a round of upcoming meetings and the beginning and purpose of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process,” Dr McVeigh said.
“The EIS process should take between 12 and 18 months to work through and will provide much greater clarity to landholders in the 2km wide study corridor, on how the final rail corridor, which will be around 65 metres will be determined,” he said.
Dr McVeigh said he impressed on ARTC executives the need for varied meeting times along the route as a one-size-fits-all approach did not work well with rural communities.
“I have asked for a rolling series of meetings at Gowrie, Southbrook, Pittsworth and Brookstead with the initial round consisting of two meetings at each location at different times of the day including meetings on week days and weekends,” he said.
“We have to give landholders the flexibility they need to attend one of these meetings now that the final decision has been made on what corridor is to be used across the Darling Downs.”
The first meeting is expected to be held in the Gowrie community from October 20 with a further seven meetings scheduled within a month.
Dr McVeigh said the study corridor decision was a hard one to make for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester, but it was a decision that had to be made to end the uncertainty for many residents.
“There has been a lot of anticipation about this decision; a lot of angst. Landholders on all four options that were being considered had been waiting for a very long time. Now we can start to work with the affected landholders to give them some certainty about how the process will now more forward,” he said.
“A decision will always have impacts. In my view the work and consultation really starts now and I committed to working with landholders along the corridor to ensure these impacts are as minimal as possible.
“I want to focus on making sure people are treated in a fair, appropriate and respectful manner as we work towards finalising the final route. This is one of the most significant projects in Australia’s history.
“Locally, the inland rail is expected to generate direct and indirect employment for the Darling Downs of around 2200 at the peak of construction and provide an economic boost for the Darling Downs of $2.2 billion over the next 50 years.
“It’s time to get to work on ensuring all those affected are included in the next phase.”
Venues, times and meeting dates for the forthcoming series of information sessions will be advertised by ARTC shortly.