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Victorian budget’s rail fail

Farmers have expressed their extreme disappointment the Murray Basin Rail Project received no new funding in the Victorian state budget.

The standardisation of rail through the state’s north west ran out rail last year.

The Victorian Government released an updated business case earlier this year, showing a modified project from the original plans, that fails to standardise rail to Sea Lake and Manangatang.

Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke told rural editor Eddie Summerfield it’s extremely disappointing:

“It is absolutely crucial not only for grain but also for horticulture and even the longer term prospect of in land rail that it needs to be included, and finished as what was promised,” Mr Jochinke said.

In early 2020 the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office released its report on the project and was scathing of the Victoria Government’s management of the project.

It described the state government’s handling of the project as “deficient” and “inadequate”.

The original project committed to by the Andrews Government in 2015 promised to remove 20,000 truck trips from Victorian roads, and bringing freight rail speeds up to 80 kilometres an hour.

“Without that we don’t unlock the potential for getting those extra dollars into farmers pockets when we’re in an export market,” Mr Jochinke said.

The updated business case needs $244 million, but with no funding coming from state or federal budgets the project faces further uncertainty.

“For us that’s unacceptable, we only will accept the fully funded, and fully delivered budget,” Mr Jochinke said.

Listen to the full interview above, and Subscribe to the National Rural News podcast:

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