LETTER: Liberal candidate needs to be real about rail

I wish to highlight the ‘great Mallee rail election myth’ being knowingly espoused by some of the federal election candidates including Liberal candidate, Serge Petrovich.

One of the claims is that a rail link between Mildura and the transcontinental rail line (at Broken Hill or other) will enable local export product to be rail freighted the 3,600 km journey all the way to Darwin for export to Asia. 

This is simply not true. If it were an option, why wouldn’t Adelaide be rail freighting its 420,000 shipping containers to Darwin already?

Instead, the port of Darwin is lucky to handle 30,000 containers each year when Melbourne’s throughput is in the vicinity of 2.8 million.

A ship carrying over 8000 shipping containers ex-Melbourne all the way around Australia is far more efficient and cost effective then a train carrying, say 200 containers all the way to Darwin. 

Serge and others have said that it will enable Mallee people to travel on a tourist train between Melbourne and Broken Hill. 

If a tourist train as such were to ever operate, it most likely to have only two meagre services per week. 

Serge’s speech at the Swan Hill candidates forum on Monday contained a 98 per cent discussion about himself. 

The only tangible offering he managed to get out was the Mildura rail link to the transcontinental, when only 35kms away there is a rail line sitting in limbo as a result of the half-finished Murray Basin rail project.

It is very disappointing that Serge and other candidates, in this instance, are only working for the interests and agendas of others and not that of the Mallee electorate.

Does the Liberal Party overrule The Nationals in these instances?

Instead Serge and other candidates should be looking to apply federal fiscal pressure on the Victorian Government to address the immediate needs of the Mallee including the completion of the Murray Basin Rail Project, the Sea Lake and Manangatang rail line upgrades and resolving the Maryborough to Ballarat rail corridor issue etc. 

Michael P. O’Callaghan