Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, today slammed Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the Australian Infrastructure Plan which failed to mention the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link once.
The Australian Infrastructure Plan listed freight rail access to Port Kembla as a proposed initiative noting that Port Kembla would face capacity constraints in the absence of any additional rail network improvements.
The Liberal response to the Plan did not contain one reference to the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link. Their response is to have yet another review, another talkfest.
The completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail project would expand business opportunities and create new jobs in the Illawarra and create hundreds of local jobs during construction..
The completion of this Rail Link – which is part built – would create a freight rail connection from Port Kembla to the Main South Line at Picton, providing a major boost to freight logistics in Illawarra and south-western Sydney.
Completing the rail link will also benefit commuters on overcrowded trains on the South Coast Line linking the Illawarra to Sydney by freeing the line of freight trains, enabling more commuter passenger services.
At the last Federal election, Labor committed to $50 million in funding and to working with the private sector to finally build the stalled project. The previous Federal Labor Government provided $25.5 in 2011 for planning, geotechnical and engineering studies and then committed a further $50 million in 2013 to progress the project. As soon as the Liberals were elected – they cut this funding.
During the recent Wollongong by-election, Luke Foley and Paul Scully committed to match this funding, dollar for dollar. In contrast the State Liberals knocked back two private sector proposals to build the line and have done nothing to progress it since.
Sharon Bird said the Liberal Government has again shown disdain for the Illawarra through their failure to progress the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link.
“The Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link would create enormous economic and employment opportunities for the Illawarra. Federal Labor has recognised this. New South Wales has recognised this. The Liberals, again, have shown complete and utter contempt for our region.
“The time for talking about building the Maldon Dombarton Rail Link is over – it is time for the Liberals to act to ensure the Illawarra is not left behind. We need to ensure that projects like this receive the funding they need so that the Illawarra can benefit from the economic opportunities in south-west Sydney.
“If Malcolm Turnbull is serious about building freight rail, he should start by finishing the Maldon-Dombarton rail link which the Liberals cancelled half way through construction,” Stephen Jones said.
“With the recent accidents on Mount Ousley, people’s minds are now focussed on improving the passenger rail service by freeing up the main rail line of freight – the Maldon-Dombarton will do this.
The Liberals need to stop procrastinating and start working to ensure that the Illawarra gets the infrastructure we need.