Above: Coonamble councillors Bill Fisher and Paul Wheelhouse, Narromine Shire Council’s director of community and economic management Phil Johnston, Gilgandra Shire Council’s economic development manager Randall Medd, Gilgandra Shire Council Mayor Doug Batten, executive officer at New England Joint Organisation Brooke Southwell, Narrabri Shire Council’s economic development manager Bill Birch, Narrabri Shire Council’s general manager Stewart Todd and front, Narrabri Shire Council Mayor Cathy Redding.
A forum to discuss the potential economic benefits and concerns of the Inland Rail project drew about 50 people to The Crossing Theatre on Thursday.
The $10 billion project will transport freight from Melbourne to Brisbane, spanning more than 1700 kilometres and is the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia.
Attendees received Federal Government pamphlets that boasted the benefits of the project including its ability to boost the economy ‘by $16 billion, support thousands of jobs and reduce emissions by 750,000 tonnes’.
The Narrabri event was run by consultancy firm Ernst and Young.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development has engaged EY to undertake an in-depth study to identify the potential economic opportunities for regional Australia resulting from the operation of the Inland Rail project.
The Narrabri forum was one in a series of consultation sessions that Ernst and Young is hosting with government and business representatives as part of its research, including discussing the opportunities for businesses and the role of Inland Rail in supporting the long-term economic prosperity of regional areas.
Some of the potential opportunities and benefits attendees identified and discussed included water carting, emergency relief, manufacturing, pet food and agricultural research.
Barriers included the time it might take to get plans approved, connectivity, workforce and population hurdles.
Narrabri Shire Council Mayor Cathy Redding said the Inland Rail project would give the Narrabri Shire access to four ports.
Currently it has access to two.
“We are in a fortunate position. Narrabri is in a prime position to have a large and workable industrial hub,” Cr Redding said at the forum.