Following on from the recent ACCC decision blocking Aurizon’s sale of their intermodal freight service to a consortium of Pacific National/Linfox and the Minister’s complete inaction on the matter, Western Queenslanders will quite likely be left with no rail freight services come January 2019.
Mr Millar, who has been hounding the Minister for months for answers, has continually raised concerns that after the Aurizon contract expires, there is major uncertainty on whether Western Queenslanders will have access to any rail freight services.
“I have asked the Minister, both on the 2nd May and the 12th June and in correspondence prior to that what will happen to Western Queenslander’s once Aurizon stops the regional freight transport service. And each time, his answer has been “Trust us!”” Mr Millar said.
“The Minister states that “Regional freight services will continue to be subsidised in Queensland.1” and that “In the event that a service provider cannot deliver contracted services, the Department of Transport and Main Roads will implement contingencies with alternative providers to ensure continuity of services. 2”
“As the Minister would know, when the previous Labor Government sold QR to Aurizon there was a genuine need to ensure that the rail freight services continued as they are vital to the western communities within my electorate.
“Freight delivery in some of these towns just is not viable without government subsidies, the entire point and purpose of the RFTSC – but how do you subsidise a service that may not be there.
“What I want to know, as does every Western Queenslander, is what Minister Bailey’s Plan B is for Regional Freight – What alternative rail freight providers are there?
“The Minister likes to say that the Department has contingencies – well what are they? Does the Minister have some hidden trains somewhere we don’t know about?”
“Time and time again, I have asked what their plan is. I fear that we are going to get to January 1 and the Rail Fail will hit home in Western Queensland, with no fresh food or goods being able to be shipped to towns like Alpha, Jericho, Barcaldine and Longreach” Mr Millar said.