Ouyen Railway Sidings

MR CRISP (Mildura) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Public Transport. The action I seek is that the minister act to ensure that the rail sidings in Ouyen are retained. I, like the rest of the Ouyen community, was shocked to learn of the decision by the government to remove two of the rail sidings located in Ouyen with no consultation with the community. V/Line have also advised that the remaining four sidings will not facilitate any future use for containerised freight.

The aim of the Murray Basin rail project is to enhance rail freight productivity and opportunities throughout our region. Removal of the sidings will have the opposite effect in Ouyen, and once removed these sidings are very unlikely to ever be replaced. The Ouyen community is very proactive in its approach to the economic growth of the township and its surrounds. Its location on the intersection of the Mallee and Calder highways sees it as a natural geographical hub, and the community have worked tirelessly to cement themselves as a strategic location in the agricultural sector.

Heavy investment in modern cropping techniques in the area has seen harvest production of grain, pulses and hay increase. The Ouyen Livestock Exchange continues to improve its facility, attracting large numbers of yardings of sheep each sale. Further investment in almond production and processing is at the doorstep of Ouyen, with continued works around Hattah. There has been reported interest in the establishment of an abattoir in Ouyen, and solar power station developers continue to look at the Ouyen region as a positive place to establish themselves. And it is not to be forgotten that the mineral ore deposits in the region lie in wait for a time when market conditions attract investment again.

So there is some concern that during the much-anticipated rail upgrade the rail sidings in Ouyen are at risk of being removed, thus decreasing the viability of Ouyen and its surrounds as a location for investment consideration and other commercial opportunities. Removal of these sidings serves no purpose in my view, and in the interest of future freight opportunities for Ouyen and its future prosperity, I request that the minister ensure that these sidings are retained.

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