Freight hub future not certain

May 26, 2023 BY

Full support: Local, state and federal politicians attended the site of the Ballarat intermodal freight hub last October. Photo: FILE

THE future of the intermodal freight hub planned for the Ballarat West Employment Zone is unclear after the was revealed Federal funding for the project was under review.

The multimillion-dollar project, that would see a road and rail transport connection built in Ballarat’s west, has been caught up in the Federal Labor’s review of the previous Coalition Government’s $120 billion infrastructure investment pipeline.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development, and Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, announced the nationwide review a few weeks ago, but did not indicate if the freight hub was included.

Subsequent questioning of department heads during a Federal parliamentary hearing on Monday by Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie revealed the future of the hub was unclear.

“Is it part of the review or not?” she asked.

“It is currently part of the review,” answered David Hallinan, Deputy Secretary, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

“It’s listed as in planning on the documentation we’ve given you, but that can be confirmed as one of the early stages of the review is exactly where these projects are up to.”

As part of the $120 billion infrastructure investment pipeline review all previous projects are up in the air with no future funding confirmed.

Senator McKenzie and Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson visited site last week to raise concerns about the review and its potential impacts on projects like the intermodal freight hub.

In response to Senator McKenzie’s current ongoing interest in the project, Ms King hit back, defending Labor’s involvement in the more than decade long planning of the hub.

“Federal Labor has been committed to Ballarat intermodal freight hub since the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese funded it in the 2013-14 budget when he was Minister for Infrastructure,” she said.

“The Liberal and National parties have shown absolutely no commitment to it because, since the Labor Government’s $9.1 million dollar commitment of funding in 2013, nothing has happened.

“Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie is feigning interest now purely for base political reasons because in both periods when she was a cabinet minister during the previous Government, she did not take a single step to progress the project.

“I was pleased to stand with State ports and freight minister Melissa Horne last October when we visited the site for the start of early works.

“And I will be proud to visit the site again during major construction and when it is completed.”

With funding streams for the project currently unclear, a City of Ballarat spokesperson said the intermodal freight hub was a key part of growth in the west of town.

“The City of Ballarat views the intermodal freight hub as a critical part of Ballarat West Employment Zone, which will drive jobs and economic growth in the region for the next 20 years,” said Natalie Robertson municipal director of growth and development.”