WAFarmers and the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA) will today call for the State government to take urgent action on the current state of the rail freight lease agreement with Brookfield Rail, warning they will otherwise receive an annual invoice of more than $2 million in order for farmers to recover additional fees.
WAFarmers President Dale Park and WRRA Chairman Greg Richards will be joined by supporters on the steps of Parliament House at 12.30pm today to deliver their message to Premier Colin Barnett and Transport Minister Dean Nalder.
“It has been more than one month since the Economics and Industry Standing Committee tabled its report into the management of the State’s grain freight network, and the government has so far failed to adequately respond,” Mr Park said.
“The delay is costing individual farmers thousands of dollars in additional freight fees, putting their businesses and livelihoods on the line, as well as putting the safety of thousands of road users in jeopardy as they face thousands of additional truck movements on regional roads which have not been maintained to a reasonable standard.”
WAFarmers and WRRA will call on the government to act on Recommendations 19 and 20 of the Report and undertake urgent negotiations with Brookfield Rail to allow access to Tier 3 lines for this and future harvests, recover the lines if an agreement cannot be reached, and allow growers to take over operation of the lines should Brookfield Rail or the government not wish to operate them.
Failure to act on these Recommendations will see the government receive an invoice of $2 million for additional freight fees charged to growers, recurring annually.
WRRA and WAFarmers are also requesting that the government invest $202 million to improve local government roads, which is the balance of the $320 million outlined in the Strategic Grain Network Report, Mr Richards said.
“Since the Tier 3 lines were closed on June 30, regional roads have faced a volume of truck movements which they have not been maintained to handle,” Mr Richards said.
“The Wheatbelt region is already disproportionately represented in road toll statistics and the lack of required funding is putting lives at risk.”
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Leslee Hall on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].