Federal Labor says it would invest $100 million to upgrade the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line if voted into government.
In a joint media statement with other ALP MPs today, Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten said line did not have resilience to cater for the projected increase in demand for rail haulage from mines in the Mount Isa region to the Port of Townsville.
“Labor will deliver strategic upgrades to the line and support the ongoing exploration and development of the North West Minerals Province, providing economic opportunities for many decades to come,” he said.
“There is potential in the province to access rare earth minerals which are used in mobile phones, fuel cells, superconducting magnets and electric vehicle batteries.
“Labor’s focus on upgrading the western section of the line will improve the line’s capacity and better protect it from severe weather events like floods.”
But State Member or Traeger Robbie Katter said the biggest ongoing problem with the line between Mount Isa and Townsville was uncompetitive prices for users, which was translating into industry shifting more tonnage via road rather than using the rail line.
“Typical Labor – they just throw money at the problem and not fix the actual issue,” he said.
State Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was already investing more than $380 million in the Mount Isa line over the next five years
Bill Shorten’s pledge would help to increase the line’s efficiency and capacity, and will also help better protect it in times of severe weather, Mr Bailey said.
“The $100 million pledged by Federal Labor will go a long way to ensuring this corridor from the minerals province to one of Australia’s largest ports at Townsville is better equipped to deal with severe weather,” he said.
“We’ve seen the impact floods can have on the rail line and our industries, with this year’s monsoonal rain event seeing more than 400 Queensland Rail staff and contractors working more than 160,000 hours over the past 10 weeks to help get the line back up and running for this Monday.”
The Federal ALP has also committed to providing $144 million towards the final stage of the Townsville Ring Road, duplicating the road between Douglas and Bohle Plains.