I was as shocked and disappointed as the rest of the community to hear Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan state that the funding allocated to the Murray Basin Rail Project has run out before stage three of the project has even commenced.
The rail lines affected by this project – Mildura, Manangatang and Sea Lake lines – were supposed to be upgraded and standardised.
At present, the Mildura line has been standardised but Manangatang and Sea Lake lines have not yet been touched, and in their current state will be barely usable for harvest.
The Manangatang and Sea Lake lines are absolutely critical infrastructure not just for our dryland farmers and our horticulturalists, but for the Victorian and national economies.
I’m sure in the coming days we will hear from both the major parties about who is at fault, how costings were incorrect, how unexpected additional costs were encountered and how neither side can adequately plan or manage an infrastructure project.
There will be finger pointing, blame shifting and rewriting of history. I’m not interested in any of that.
I’m interested in getting our product to port.
I’m interested in the viability of our dryland farming.
I’m interested in getting this project finished in full.
In the coming days I will be heading out into the Mallee to talk with stakeholders on the ground about the impacts of this news.
My main objective will be to combine our voices so that Jacinta Allan, Daniel Andrews, and their federal counterparts know that half finishing the Murray Basin Rail Project is not an option.
Our community are sick and tired of promises made and never delivered, and I am too.
This project must be finished in full, and the Victorian and Federal governments must put the money on the table to get it done.
Ali Cupper MP,
Member for Mildura
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