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Farmers say it's time for Feds to listen on Inland Rail

FARMERS along the length of the Federal Government's preferred Inland Rail route say it's high time the government and Australian Rail Track Corporation listened to affected communities.

Reacting to The Chronicle's report today that State Government would not resume land for the project until it was satisfied people's "genuine concerns" were listened to, Inner Downs Inland Rail Action Group president Larry Pappin said that was "fantastic news". 

IDIRAG represents about 650 individuals. 

"The Queensland LNP have previously said they wouldn't support the forced acquisition of land, but we certainly welcome the Palaszczuk Government supporting that as well," Mr Pappin said. 

But Mr Pappin said better consultation was not the answer, and argued "the whole process of the decision making" had to be re-visited. 

Larry Pappin, protestors against inland rail route, outside the Empire Theatre complex Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. visit Toowoomba. February 2018
Larry Pappin, protestors against inland rail route, outside the Empire Theatre complex Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. visit Toowoomba. February 2018 Bev Lacey

"If (the Federal Government) don't have an intergovernmental agreement, the whole project will be doomed to failure. It can't get to the border of Queensland and just stop," Mr Pappin said. 

He also noted neither New South Wales or Victorian governments had been able to sign off on IGAs with Canberra.

"The Federal Liberal party really need to listen to all the communities along the route because there's other viable options that have been ignored," he said. 

Mr Pappin said communities all the way along the route had complained about Australian Rail Track Corporation's poor consultation process. 

Meanwhile, chair of the Millmerran Rail Group Wes Judd, another farmer who has campaigned against the selection of the Charlton-Wellcamp route of the Inland Rail line, said the community had used various avenues to tell the Federal Government the process of selecting the route was inadequate. 

"As we have stated on many occasions, through the project reference group, through community consultation meetings, we've written to ARTC and to previous (Infrastructure) ministers... they've been told that the process was not adequate so many times it's not funny," Mr Judd said. 

"If they don't give the community the satisfaction to... want to be a part of the project too, they'll never get it to work.

"They've got the communities off-side, and I don't know how they're going to get them back. They need to get in there and be genuine about engagement."

Mr Judd said his group had tried to engage with a "couple of State Government" ministers last year but couldn't gain an appointment to discuss Inland Rail matters.

"I just hope there's a genuine approach to this from both State and Federal Government and they're finally serious about having a proper discussion and working out issues that are still outstanding, which by the way, they are well aware of."

The selection of the Federal Government's "preferred corridor" from Yelarbon to Gowrie in September 2017 led to an outcry from landholders along the length of line.

Farmers are worried about the dissection of prime agricultural land, impacts on businesses, and the potential that a poorly-designed crossing of the 12.5km Condamine floodplain could lead to the creation of an inland dam.

InterLink SQ CEO Michelle Reynolds called on State Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey "not to hold up the whole alignment because of issues further south". 

"We totally (get the issues) and I'd like them dealt with too, but we really can't stop the whole project in Queensland or else Queensland as a state is just going to miss out and we're going to suffer," she said.

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