Introduction by John Fullerton.
Would you welcome Warren Truss,
the Chairman of ARTC.
Warren Truss Address
Well thank you very much John,
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Rick Colless representing the NSW
Government, Mark Coulton, who has been the member for this area most of the
time but isn’t currently the local member, but certainly a great champion of
this project. The Wiradjuri people and particularly their elders who we honour.
Councillor Ken Keith and the many other councillors and local government
representatives who are here today. My fellow ARTC directors. Our contracting
partners, it’s great to see all the orange jackets from INLink who are already
busily involved in this project. Distinguished guests. Ladies and Gentlemen.
Well it’s an absolute pleasure
to be here today to celebrate the commencement of construction of the Inland
Rail. A project that in one form or another has been on the drawing board for
more than a century. Indeed, at the time of Federation there were proposals to
build a line from Melbourne, up through to Queensland and across to Darwin. And
subsequently there have been many others. With grand schemes and more modest
schemes to make this vital rail link a reality.
But in 2006 the detailed route
selection process began. In about 2013 significant money was provided to enable
the construction work to commence. And now the government has committed to back
this project to the tune of about $8 or $9 billion. The total cost of the
project about $12 billion, and it’s becoming a reality.
I’m particularly delighted to be
with Minister Michael McCormack and Mark Coulton and Ken Keith and many of
those people who have been champions of this project for many, many years. Who
believed in it and wanted it to come to pass. And I’m pleased also that the project
enjoys broad political spectrum support. That there’s support from around the
country, from the state governments and local governments and also from
opposition parties, towards this vital nation building project.
Today’s a particularly proud
moment in the history of this country. The official start of construction on a
national project of international stature that will energise regional areas in
Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
It’s a very significant moment
also in the history of the ARTC, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. ARTC are
proud to have been tasked by the Australian Government to deliver and operate
Inland Rail. It speaks to the leadership provided by John Fullerton and his
executive team that we’ve been entrusted by the government with such an
important and challenging task. But it’s not a task we can deliver on our own.
As the CEO of Inland Rail Richard Wankmuller never tires of saying, we will
deliver Inland Rail with the support of governments, in partnership with the private
sector and hand in hand with local communities.
So it’s particularly pleasing to
be here today, to see so many of the ARTC supporters and customers, without
whom we’d simply not have a network of trains moving across the nation. It
should not be forgotten that the business case for Inland Rail is built on the
core objective of getting as much freight as possible off our roads and
highways, and onto rail.
And it’s our customers who are
going to help deliver this transformation in the way we move freight around the
country and contribute not only to a more prosperous future for all
Australians, but a safer Australia as well. When hundreds of thousands of
people who drive on the Newell and other regional highways of this country will
be able to do so with a little bit more peace and enjoyment.
And the state governments,
especially those in NSW and Victoria at present, who are supporting us in our
endeavours to get on with constructing Inland Rail. These governments,
particularly here in NSW, are working closely with us to plan how Inland Rail
can connect better with their freight rail networks, and how a faster,
straighter, more connected Inland Rail will deliver real and tangible benefits
to towns, communities and landholders throughout regional areas.
I want to particularly
acknowledge today the landholders who are here today, many of whom are likely
to be impacted by the project but have also been willing to work alongside us
to deliver the best possible Inland Rail. We appreciate that for many this requires
some personal sacrifice. We appreciate that for some it could be disruptive to
their farms and businesses.
Many though at the present stage
of the development of the project have been concerned, perhaps needlessly,
because the current two-kilometre-wide study area is being refined to 60
metres. And in the end the majority of the properties that are currently
concerned will not actually be affected. Perhaps more than two thirds. However,
we do appreciate that these people are making a contribution and enduring
inconvenience because there is a project of national significance and national
We are already seeing some of
the benefits of this project with more than $630 million worth of contracts
currently let and jobs being created in towns like Parkes and Tamworth and
Mittagong. In South Australia where the steel works are very much in the news,
which will deliver the rail for this project. And there’ll be thousands more to
come over the next six to seven years.
I’m also particularly proud of
the active engagement we have with our many indigenous communities right along
the entire 1700-kilometre route. The Wiradjuri people and the other indigenous
communities, for your support and willingness to engage with us.
Soon the Deputy Prime Minister
will turn the first sod for this project using a century old shovel, and also a
wheelbarrow that’s around 150 years old. This wheelbarrow and shovel have been
used to begin other major rail projects around Australia. The Transcontinental
Railway, which linked the new Australian Federation. The line to Alice Springs
and to Darwin. It’s been used by Prime Ministers Fisher, Whitlam and Howard.
But you Michael will be the first Deputy Prime Minister to use the shovel to
commence an important project.
This is a historic event. Its
significance is real. The Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane will open up
the land and deliver great national benefits just like the other projects that
were begun with this historic shovel.
So ladies and gentlemen thank
you for your time and for being with us on this very special occasion. We
appreciate your support and we look forward with confidence to the Inland Rail
being operational in the not too distant future.