‘Show us the Maldon money’

A section of the Maldon-Dombarton rail line, which was abandoned  mid-construction in 1988. Picture: Wolter Peeters
A section of the Maldon-Dombarton rail line, which was abandoned mid-construction in 1988. Picture: Wolter Peeters

Two Labor politicians in the Illawarra have called on Gareth Ward to back up his support for the Maldon-Dombarton rail line with money.

On Tuesday, Mr Ward, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra, said the freight rail was “a priority” for him.

He said the government needed to look to the private sector – particularly Australian super funds – to pay for the construction of the rail link.

State Wollongong MP Paul Scully and federal Cunningham MP Sharon Bird responded to Mr Ward’s backing of the rail line, criticising what they claimed was the state government’s inaction on the issue.

“I’m happy to see Gareth Ward indicate he supports the Maldon-Dombarton project because we’ve seen precious little action from his government over the last six years,” Ms Bird said.

“The Maldon-Dombarton rail project has been a major priority for Federal Labor. We provided $25.5 million in 2011 for the planning, geotechnical and engineering studies required.”

She said Mr Ward’s government should match the $50 million pledge Labor had made at the last two elections. 

Mr Ward refuted the claims that the state government had done nothing to progress the rail line.

“That’s simply not true,” Mr Ward said.

“We did a series of engineering studies in order to get this to market. We took it to an expression of interest stage and tried to seek private sector investment.”

No private sector offer fit the state government’s criteria.

In response to the $50 million in funding Labor had promised, Mr Ward said “any three-year-old with a Meccano set would have worked out that $50 million is not going to complete this project”.

“I’m happy to discuss with all stakeholders including the Labor party how we progress this but until the Labor party gets serious and acknowledges this has got be supported with the private sector then they’re simply a sideshow,” Mr Ward said.