Kiama MP Gareth Ward is prepared to take on Freight Minister Melinda Pavey over the Maldon-Dombarton rail line.
Earlier this month, Ms Pavey said the freight rail line was not “a high priority” for the government.
Mr Ward, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra, has a very different view of the Maldon-Dombarton line than the minister.
“I’ll sort her out,” Mr Ward said.
“It certainly is a priority and it’s a priority for me.”
Mr Ward said studies indicated the conflict between passenger and freight trains wasn’t expected to become a problem until 2025.
But he felt it wasn’t a good idea to wait that long.
“People are sick and tired of governments reacting to infrastructure needs,” he said.
“We need to get ahead of the curve, as difficult as that task is and there could be no greater example of the need to do that than the Maldon-Dombarton.
“I don’t want to turn around in 2025 and find this project has come too late, I’d like to address it beforehand.”
With the Maldon-Dombarton freight line expected to cost more than $650 million, Mr Ward said looking for investment from the private sector – Australian super funds in particular – was crucial.
The NSW government did call for expressions of interest (EOI) in 2015 but rejected all applicants.
This was because, according to Mr Ward, “essentially they wanted us to pay for all of the infrastructure work and then pay them to run it”.
But Mr Ward said that didn't mean the government should give up on looking to the private sector to build this important rail link.
“I am going to have further discussion with Transport,” he said.
“I think we need to learn some lessons from the last EOI and inevitably we’re going to have to try again.
“What format that takes and what model that takes is something we’ll need to discuss.
“You need to ask the question, who is the inevitable beneficiary of Maldon Dombarton and that is the freight industry, particularly the port.
“As the port expands and the passenger-freight conflict becomes greater then there is going to be pressure for that project.
“I think the private sector solution is the only one.”