A PROPOSED Ararat freight rail hub was thrown into the spotlight thanks to a war of words between the state government and opposition members in Parliament on Tuesday.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Damian Drum, questioned the government about the progress of a feasibility study for the hub in parliament.
Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the state government had been forced to admit the study was not underway.
“This is a very embarrassing admission for Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and theAndrews Labor Government,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews promised this study back in October2014 and said it was ‘about time’ for Ararat.
“But 18 months later the people of Ararat are still waiting for it to start.”
Minister for Regional Development and Western Victoria, Jaala Pulford said Mr Drum’sclaims that a feasibility study for the hub was not underway were unfounded.
“We are well on our way with delivering this election commitment,” she said.
“Mr Drum obviously has his mind on Federal politics and not on the people of Ararat – because his accusations are wrong.”
She said the government was delivering on an election commitment to give Ararat Rural City Council $100,000 for the feasibility study.
The proposed hub would allow more produce to be moved to interstate and international markets.
It hopes toreduce costs, create a centralised point for a north-south and east-west interchange and help the ability to offload onto larger or smaller vehicles.
A project control group was established in April.
A consultant tender brief has also been established.
The government said consultants are expected to be appointed in June.
HoweverMr Walsh said despite this,Ms Pulford has failed to explain the delay between the study’s funding and the appointment of the project board in April.
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