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MEDIA RELEASE - Senator Hinch supports rail line

Federal Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch has described the Portland-Maroona Rail Line as “antique, antiquated and rusting” during an on-site inspection yesterday, demanding urgent government intervention.

The media identity declared “it has to be built” citing rail as a matter of critical importance for the pending Federal election.
“For regional and rural Victoria rail is a huge thing – rail’s a massive thing,” he said.

“You get politicians before every election say ‘we will built this one, we will build that one’ but they never do,” as he lamented that “you guys draw the short straw a lot”.

Senator Hinch spent Wednesday visiting key tourist attractions, businesses and infrastructure across Portland upon the invitation of Glenelg Shire Council following a recent visit to Federal Parliament by Mayor Cr Anita Rank.

Cr Rank, who is also deputy chair of Rail Freight Alliance, said it was welcoming that Senator Hinch recognised the importance of the Portland rail line to the nation’s economy.

“Senator Hinch has seen first-hand that this is a major freight corridor linking some of the state’s biggest agricultural producers to global export markets,” Cr Rank said.

“Whilst the Murray Basin Rail project is nearing completion this missing link has been ignored, essentially cutting off grain producers from getting their product to market efficiently and stripping business from the Port of Portland.

“The line currently has a 19 tonne axle loading, three tonne lower than the lines linking to the Port of Geelong and Melbourne, placing our region at a disparity to our metropolitan neighbours.

“Senator Hinch has previously raised this matter in the Senate and has today walked away with a deeper understanding of the impact this is placing on the local economy, putting greater pressure on our already crowded freight corridors.”

As part of the visit, Senator Hinch also met with Macey Lee-Reeves, a passionate advocate for all accessible infrastructure at the Portland foreshore.

A master plan is proposing a major redevelopment of the recreation space, including an upgraded all accessible playground, connecting pathways and infrastructure to increase the useability and appeal of the area, particularly to growing tourism markets.

Renewables was also top of the agenda with a tour of Keppel Prince, meeting workers as they produced more of the state’s key windfarm infrastructure.

Cr Rank said Senator Hinch acknowledged the significant economic activity in the shire, which now surpasses $300 million.

“Senator Hinch was clearly impressed by the highly skilled work being produced at Keppel Prince and the significant contribution the business is making to the wind farm sector, reducing emissions, supporting our environment and creating and sustaining local jobs,” she said.

“We are high achievers in this region in not only this renewable sector but in agriculture, aquaculture, manufacturing and tourism. Senator Hinch has promised to deliver this message to Canberra, advocating to get much-needed funding for our priority projects, such as rail and tourism infrastructure, to further strengthen our community and this great work being achieved.”

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