The state government had an obligation to continue the general freight subsidy to ensure western regions continued to have a service and Gregory MP, Lachlan Millar is pulling no punches in ensuring those subsides remain in place.
“They can’t walk away from that. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
Currently the state government is assessing tenders for new regional freight transport services and communities are expressing concern with an Aurizon-supplied road freight service that current subsidies may be shelved under a new agreement.
The current performance based contract ends in December this year following an extension and genders for the role are now in their 7th month of assessment after closing in October last year.
Mr Millar says he’s concerned that communities across the state may suffer if the subsidies are wound back.
“It’s a statewide issue with the potential to see costs passed on in communities.”
He says he is also concerned that any change may lead to a reduction of services.
Mr Millar is also looking to lateral solutions because he says he is not sure that Aurizon management wants to continue to meet its western freight obligations.
He’s suggesting a lease arrangement for a “boutique” operator instead, which would lease engines and carriages from the government.
“We need someone who will put marketing people on the ground and really sell the product, failing that, Aurizon management needs a shake-up.”
Aurizon has confirmed that without the freight subsidy, it would not be able to operate the service.
Transport Minister, Jackie Trad, says the state government is committed to funding future investment in regional rail freight, including ongoing support for livestock and freight rail contracts.