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MEDIA RELEASE - Hinch supports Portland-Maroona rail project

3 December 2018

Independent Senator Derryn Hinch has backed investing in the missing link of the Murray Basin Rail Project, noting finishing the Portland line was a “piece of cake”.

The Justice Party leader has thrown his weight behind Glenelg Shire Council’s campaign to attract funding for the Portland-Maroona Rail Line, agreeing investment was critical to grow export markets and reduce truck movements to the Port of Portland.

Senator Hinch raised questions in parliament last week highlighting the “bureaucratic madness” that the project had been “left out” urging the government to investigate the matter further.

Senator Hinch directed questions at Senator Bridget McKenzie, acting as Deputy Prime Minister, on why the Portland line had not been a “priority” in the $440 million project which is linking the regional rail network to metropolitan ports, creating 280 jobs and reaching its final stages of work.

Senator Hinch asked: “Why has the Maroona-Portland line not been made a priority for a project of this scale? All you need, I am told, is to upgrade the sleepers. That seems like a piece of cake. Do you acknowledge that a failure to build the Maroona-Portland line will mean many Victorian farmers, growers, exporters and producers are locked out of the benefits of this rail project?”.

Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr Anita Rank agreed with the sentiment, stating council’s strong advocacy and business case was filtering beyond the major parties.

Council has met with government and opposition leaders at both a Federal and State level in recent months, advocating on this critical national infrastructure investment.

“We had the fortune to meet with Senator Hinch who agreed this project is simply a sleeper replacement, a project that won’t take much effort but will bring significant economic gains with freight efficiencies and safety improvements, getting heavy vehicles off our roads,” Cr Rank said.

“He also reinforced in our meeting his support on the need to invest in passenger rail in our region, opening new business and tourism links for the western half of the state.

“He has committed to a visit in the near future to boost his advocacy effort and so he can experience first-hand how this important rail link feeds into one of regional Australia’s most productive ports, linking northern markets to global trading partners.”

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