NQ First revives 'Iron Boomerang' transcontinental railway plan

Ag and resources projects feature in NQ First election promises

News
Aa

Forget the New Bradfield scheme - NQ First wants to build a transcontinental railway linking Bowen with Western Australia's Pilbara, paving the way for a resurrection of Australia's steel-making industry.

Aa
NQ First leader Jason Costigan on the campaign trail in the north.

NQ First leader Jason Costigan on the campaign trail in the north.

Forget the New Bradfield scheme - NQ First wants to build a transcontinental railway linking Bowen with Western Australia's Pilbara, paving the way for the resurrection of Australia's steel-making industry.

Stretching from Abbot Point and Queensland's coalfields to the Pilbara's iron ore country and export terminals, NQ First leader Jason Costigan said it was central to the long-awaited 'Project Iron Boomerang', which had been bandied about in the late 1970s when mining magnate Lang Hancock floated the idea during Joh Bjelke-Petersen's time as Queensland Premier.

The announcement was one of many agricultural and resource commitments coming thick and fast from the fledgling political party as the Queensland election campaign ramped up.

As well as promising the establishment of a new electricity generating entity based in North Queensland if the party secured the balance of power after the October 31 poll, Mr Costigan said he would work to repeal Labor's vegetation management laws, open new agricultural colleges at Mareeba and in the Burdekin and reopen the Emerald Agricultural and Longreach Pastoral Colleges, and make a $10m export distribution centre happen at Proserpine's Whitsunday Coast Airport.

Related: Bradfield scheme garners bipartisan support

The party is contesting five seats in North Queensland - Whitsunday, Mirani, Burdekin, Townsville and Cook, four of which include rural areas.

As well as promising competition in the electricity market, Mr Costigan affirmed his support for a new coal-fired power station at Collinsville.

"There needs to be big changes in the energy market, starting with competition for Ergon but for that to happen, NQ First needs the balance of power - starting with my re-election in Whitsunday," he said.

Speaking as postal voting was about to open, Mr Costigan said an export centre, which he would locate on vacant land adjacent to the Whitsunday Coast airport at Prosperpine and fund via a billion dollar Building the North capital works program, made perfect sense given the massive growing capacity for fruit and vegetables in the region.

He said there were also opportunities for the Whitsundays' aquaculture industry and for an array of product from new irrigation areas arising from the proposed Urannah Dam, but they would only happen if he were re-elected.

"In the case of the Bowen-Gumlu area, you have the largest winter vegetable growing region in Australia and the potential for expansion is out of this world - so long as we develop our water resources and that starts around here with my pet project, the Urannah Dam."

The site of the proposed dam is in the Mackay Council region, home to Mr Costigan's LNP rival Amanda Camm, who is Mackay's deputy mayor.

He questioned her commitment to the dam-building project, saying she hadn't championed it during council meetings.

Fearing an economic recovery that started in south east Queensland, which he said both the ALP and LNP would favour, Mr Costigan said the Iron Boomerang rail project would be the 21st century equivalent to the Snowy Mountains Scheme except that it would focus on northern Australia.

He said he was amazed that neither of the major parties had revisited the idea in the lead-up to the October 31 poll, especially given the impact of COVID-19.

"I guess that just proves that the LNP and Labor doesn't understand the north or doesn't care about the north or probably both when you think about it," he said. "I believe we can go back to the future and resurrect that industry and deliver Hancock's vision for a transcontinental railway."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by