Labor set to ditch $300m rail subsidy

CONTENTION: The Galilee Basin has become a political minefield in the lead-up to the January 31 election.
CONTENTION: The Galilee Basin has become a political minefield in the lead-up to the January 31 election. Contributed

THE Galilee Basin has hit the forefront of the election, with the LNP and ALP standing firmly on either end of a big debate.

At the ALP official campaign launch, Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said a successful Labor Government would ditch a promised subsidy of up to $300 million to fund the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point rail project.

The project, to link proposed mines in the Basin to the coast for exports, has been hotly contested between green groups and mining companies for some time.

ALP candidate for Gregory, Cheryl Thompson, said the State Government should not be paying for the rail project.

"This promise puts the onus back on the mining companies to solve the problem of shifting their product (our resource) to the relevant ports," she said.

"As soon as the infrastructure is in place, then the responsible mining of the resources can begin."

Lachlan Millar, LNP candidate for Gregory, said the move was irresponsible.

"What Labor has done is put the potential of 28,000 jobs in the Galilee Basin at risk for Greens preferences in south-east Queensland," he said.

"Labor has never been interested in central and western Queensland and this proves that they have no desire to create jobs which will support small business, create more employment and jobs for young people.

"They are more interested in jumping into bed with the Greens."

But Ms Thompson said the promise from the ALP would benefit Gregory locals.

"The taxpayers of Gregory will not be expected to cover the $450 million cost of this development and, let's be realistic, how likely is it that the $450 million would be the final debt to taxpayers?"

Galilee Basin

Located about 200km west of the Bowen Basin

Extends north past Hughenden, south to Charleville and west beyond Winton to Middleton.

The basin region covers an area of approximately 247,000sq km

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