REGIONAL RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE
The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER:
My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for State and Regional Development. Is the Minister aware that the Victorian Government recently commenced work on a new rail link and rail freight network upgrades to significantly benefit the growing population of regional Victoria? Does the Minister agree that modern, efficient rail links and services are important to regional development? From a regional development perspective, can the Minister advise the House of any specific equivalent New South Wales Government plans to improve rail services to country and coastal communities in New South Wales, such as the northern rivers region and Bathurst for starters?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD:
We are concerned about this issue. If the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner visited the Hunter Valley, she would see hundreds of millions of dollars of new rail infrastructure has been provided not only to help local residents move through that region but also to help our very large export coal industry. Lots of money is going into the Hunter Valley. In due course there are likely to be significant upgrades of rail infrastructure through to Tamworth on the back of some exploration licences—decisions that the Government has taken to upgrade our efforts in that area. There are significant developments for that region and through to Tamworth. Naturally, when the Tamworth line is upgraded it will improve the logistic requirements of our agricultural industry, which produces tens of millions of tonnes of product in the northern part of the State. We are happy with our program in regional areas. We have done a lot over recent years and we will continue to improve it.