HUNDREDS of construction jobs will be created and more than 20,000 trucks will be taken off regional roads as a result of a proposed grains industry project that could secure the viability of the agricultural rail network in Queensland for decades to come.
GrainCorp and AgForce are joining together to call on the Queensland Government to invest $11 million towards a $52 million project to construct two new state-of-the-art grain handling facilities and upgrade the rail freight network in southern and central Queensland.
AgForce Grains President, Wayne Newton, said Queensland just had a record winter crop valued at more than $700 million, but Queensland’s grain growers could fall behind other states and miss out on export opportunities this year and into the future because of the poor performance of rail freight.
“Transport makes up more than a third of growers’ cost of production so, for our grains industry to be globally competitive, we need to be able to get our product to port as efficiently as possible,” he said.
“About 90 per cent of our grain exports used to get to port on train, but now it’s only about 50 per cent, despite the fact rail is more efficient — with 20 trains enough to load a vessel compared to nearly 1,000 truckloads.
“Queensland growers already face higher supply chain costs than growers in other states, and losing grain on rail will not only hurt grain producers, but have flow-on effects for beef, containers and a range of other commodities.
“Queensland can’t afford to be left behind. This project would be a game changer for the grains industry in Queensland, and we are urging the State Government to get behind it.”
GrainCorp Regional Manager for Queensland, Brad Foster, said the proposed $52 million freight network investment included $41 million from GrainCorp in addition to the government contribution.
The project would increase grain-on-rail to more than 800,000 tonnes per year, underpinning the viability and growth of Queensland’s grain industry.
“This project is shovel-ready and would create more than 150 jobs in the construction phase, as well as underpin almost 150 permanent jobs, and up to 300 seasonal operational jobs in central and southern Queensland into the future,” he said.
“The project will further benefit the broader community by keeping 20,000 grain trucks a year off the roads and out of the ports, reducing the strain on local roads and congestion on the highway and roads leading into the Brisbane Port.
“GrainCorp has worked closely with the Victorian and New South Wales Governments on co-funded projects, and we are now looking for a similar commitment from the Queensland Government.
“We’ve raised this proposal with the Queensland Government and are encouraged by their early response.
“This is a win-win project for the Government and the industry that will generate hundreds of jobs for Queenslanders and hundreds of millions of dollars in export earnings for the state economy.”