MILLMERRAN landholders say regardless of the nation building rhetoric promoting the inland rail, the greatest impact of the $10 billion project will be the destruction of prime agricultural land and the extended rural communities which it supports.
Jed Cameron, who operates a 1000 head feedlot with his wife Tracy on their property between Inglewood and Millmerran, said he was becoming increasingly disturbed by the process.
“It’s become a joke,” Mr Cameron said. “There are just too many questions and very few straight answers. The only information comes from the ARTC (the Australian Rail Track Corporation), which is only interested in smashing its was across the Condamine Floodplain, or companies that work for ARTC.
“There is no way that process could be considered impartial given what is at stake. ARTC has repeatedly made it very clear that it is only interested in its base Condamine Floodplain route. Other options have been dismissed out of hand even though it is impossible for the community to reasonably assess the alternatives.”
The community is now less trusting and even less convinced that the concerns of rural people are being considered.
Both Mr Cameron and his neighbour Russell Stevens sat on a highly publicised reference group aimed at ensuring the local community has confidence in the process of selecting the most appropriate route linking Yelarbon with Toowoomba.
“We still haven’t even seen the final report that our community reference group produced,” Mr Stevens said. “It has already gone to the federal government and as we understand it, decisions are being made as we speak.
“That reference group was established to help build community confidence. Isn’t it only reasonable we should know what we are supposed to be recommending to government? The reality is the reference group achieved exactly the opposite.
“The community is now less trusting and even less convinced that the concerns of rural people are being considered.”
Mr Cameron and Mr Stevens said while their farms were not on the floodplain, the inland rail had the potential to destroy their enterprises and their communities.
“This Inglewood-Millmerran Road is a major artery that serves all these farms,” Mr Cameron said. “We’re told one of the reasons ARTC wants this route is because the road will be used to service the inland rail.
“That means a high speed rail dissecting this country, potentially splitting farms and ruining the lives of families for no other reason than an apparent unwillingness on the part of decision makers to actually work out which is the best possible route.”
The federal government is widely expected to make a decision on the controversial Queensland section of the project in the next two weeks. A decision had been expected in June.