Mayor of Moree says Inland Rail helped deliver “once in a generation” opportunity for his town

Councillor Mark Johnson, Mayor of Moree Plains Shire Council, has featured in a new video from Inland Rail to help promote the benefits that the Brisbane to Melbourne freight rail line will bring to rural and regional communities like Moree along the alignment.

Inland Rail representative and Councillor Mark Johnson, Mayor of Moree Plains Shire Council

Moree is at the heart of the Narrabri to North Star (N2NS) section of the Inland Rail program, helping the council secure $194 million investment from the New South Wales Government to fund the first stage of design and construction of the Moree Special Activation Precinct (SAP).

A SAP is a dedicated area in a regional location identified by the NSW Government to become a thriving business hub, helping to create jobs, attract businesses and investors and drive economic growth through simplified planning approval processes.

‘The Special Activation Precinct opportunity probably wouldn’t have presented itself to our shire without the Inland Rail,’ Mayor Johnson says in the video.

‘The SAP is a once in a generation opportunity for this town. We’ve had 10 to 15 years of declining population and for the first time the state government is projecting that we will actually have a population increase.

‘The SAP is going to be a wonderful opportunity for this town over the next 40 years. The state government is projecting our population will increase by up to 4,000 people and that gives our town scale in terms of housing and infrastructure, education, health, all of those things that flow off population that Moree hasn’t had for a long, long time’.

In addition to the significant benefis that the SAP will bring to Moree, Mayor, Cr Johnson also says that the arrival of Inland Rail will deliver huge gains for local farmers by lowering their cost of taking goods to market.

‘We’re an agriculturally based community, we produce about a billion dollars of agricultural product in any one year, but not much of it stays within our shire,” Mayor Johnson says.

‘Most of our agricultural products are trucked north or south and that’s very expensive for our farmers, it really chews into their gross margins.

‘So to be able to put that in containers on a train that’s 1.8 kilometers long, heading north and south will create great cost efficiencies for our farmers.”

Oscar Pearce, Moree Beef and Grain farmer said:

‘Like most farmers we sell to nearly every country around the world but transport in Australia is extremely expensive, but we are competing in a global market so we need to be price competitive.

‘Inland Rail’s extra capacity and reduced freight costs will mean that our businesses are going to be able to export when we need to and meet buyer demand better.

‘We will be looking to expand our operation as the market dictates so that if new markets open up that we can get products from the farm gate to the buyers in a cheap and effective manner.

‘The knock on effects of Inland Rail are potentially huge, if we can attract more value-adding and service industries to regional towns, based around sustainable agricultural industries, then we have got an economy that is going to work and be profitable for centuries.”