Illawarra Labor MPs have slammed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, saying he is on the wrong track when it comes to the Maldon-Dombarton rail line.
In a ministerial statement on infrastructure in the Federal Parliament last week, Mr Turnbull mentioned the word “rail” eight times.
However, the PM didn’t mention the Maldon-Dombarton line once – drawing the ire of Cunningham MP Sharon Bird and Member for Whitlam, Stephen Jones.
Speaking to the Australian Infrastructure Plan, which lists freight rail access to Port Kembla as a national connectivity problem, Mr Turnbull said the government would “develop a strategy to increase the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s freight supply chain”.
“This will identify a set of reforms and investments to ensure we have sufficient capacity to meet the growing demand for freight and improve the efficiency of movements both road and rail,” he said. “It includes creating the right settings for more private investment in the national network.”
In December last year, the NSW government’s attempt to find a private company to build the Maldon-Dombarton rail link failed after neither of the two consortia that applied met the criteria.
The 35-kilometre, partially-built, Maldon-Dombarton link would leave the main southern line near Picton and join the Moss Vale-Unanderra line near Port Kembla. The connection would also remove rail freight from commuter train lines.
“With the recent accidents on Mount Ousley, people’s minds are now focussed on improving the passenger rail service by freeing up the main rail line of freight – the Maldon-Dombarton will do this,” Mr Jones said.
“The Liberals need to stop procrastinating and start working to ensure that the Illawarra gets the infrastructure we need.”
Prior to the July federal election, Labor promised $50 million to the Maldon-Dombarton line. At a state level, the new Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully, committed to match the federal funding.