Release MBRP business case: key stakeholders

Renewed calls for revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case release

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BASIN CASE: Pressure to release the revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case is growing.

BASIN CASE: Pressure to release the revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case is growing.

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Key stakeholders call for MBRP business case release.

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The federal government has backed a Victorian Farmers Federation call for the state to release the revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case.

The VFF, and key grain accumulators, say the secrecy surrounding the revised Murray Basin Rail Project's business case must end.

They've called for both the federal and state governments to immediately release the business case, for the troubled $440 million rail upgrade.

The project ran out of money, last year, after only being half finished.

The federal government has agreed Victoria should release the business case.

"The revised business case is a Victorian government document," a spokesman for federal Transport minister Michael McCormack said.

"The Commonwealth supports the release of the business case to ensure stakeholders have visibility over its findings and recommendations and can be part of the process to address the issues affecting the Murray Basin Freight Rail Project."

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VFF President David Jochinke said Victorian farmers and industry had been extremely patient awaiting information from the state and federal governments, but the time for consultation and waiting was over.

"A commitment was made to build the Murray Basin Rail Project just under five years ago - that's five long years,' Mr Jochinke said.

"Yet, still, here we are, uncertain about the future of the Manangatang and Sea Lake lines."

A spokesman for grain accumulator Cargill said it supported the industry position, that the project be completed, as originally scoped.

"Cargill believes it is in the interest of all stakeholders for the Victorian government to release the revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case, so we have clarification regarding the standardization of the Sea Lake and Manangatang rail lines, as originally planned," Cargill Corporate Affairs Director Peter McBride said.

"Failure to complete the full project would push more freight onto Victoria's regional road network.

"We urge the Victorian government to work with the federal government to fully fund and complete the Murray Basin Rail Project to its original scope."

A spokesman for GrainCorp said while it was part of the state goverment's Rail Freight Working Group, the company had not seen the business case.

"We look forward to seeing the detail when it is made available,' she said.

VFF Grains Group president Ashley Fraser said Victorian producers were relying on the project to be built as a 'fit-for-purpose' regional rail freight network as originally planned.

"One of the key upsides of the Murray Basin Rail Project is its potential to grow capacity, improve efficiency and provide better access from Victoria's key grain and horticulture regions to major ports," Mr Fraser said.

"If there's a failure to standardise the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines we're essentially isolating them from the rest of the Victorian and interstate network, which undermines the reason for the project in the first place.

"We are not asking for much.

"We only want genuine consultation on the future of this state-building project."

A state government spokeswoman said Victoria was working closely with the commonwealth, to review the business case.

"Further announcements will be made once the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have considered the business case and jointly agreed on the next steps," the spokeswoman said.

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