Inland Rail on track with Indigenous participation

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are open to build a 171-kilometres of rail track in northern New South Wales for the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland rail.

A new Inland Rail Indigenous Participation Plan (IRIPP) will ensure local communities can share in ongoing employment opportunities of the transformational rail-track’s roll-out and operations.

The 1,700km Brisbane to Melbourne nation-building rail route is expected to deliver an estimated 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, with 700 per year once operational, while moving product to domestic and export markets faster and more cost effectively.

The IRIPP – driven by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and backed by the Federal Liberal and Nationals’ government – will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can share in the local benefits this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project will generate.

The Plan has already led to practical workforce targets being implemented such as the Parkes to Narromine section, where construction contractor INlink has set a workforce target of 50 per cent local employment, including a goal of 10 per cent Aboriginal employment.

This section of the $9.3 billion Inland Rail’s construction is expected to create about 100 opportunities for local residents, including up to 20 jobs for local Aboriginal people.

Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, welcomed the IRIPP’s launch and said it will enhance the Inland Rail’s grass-roots focus to benefit regional communities.

“The plan supported the Australian government’s commitment and strategy to empower local jobs and drive social and economic opportunities throughout the Inland Rail’s construction and future operations,” McCormack said.

“The transformational Inland Rail project is about more than just building a 1,700km rail line – it is about opening up new and exciting social and economic opportunities for inland Australia.

“Inland Rail will deliver 16,000 direct and indirect jobs – not just through construction, but also those that flow on from construction – and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are an essential part of this prime outcome.”

According to Mathias Cormann, minister for finance and the public service, having clear and accountable employment targets will ensure the Inland Rail’s benefits are returned to local economies and communities.

“Local employment and Indigenous employment are critical to maximising the local benefits of the Inland Rail and ensuring regional communities are front and centre of this developing success story,” Cormann said.

“Inland Rail will facilitate industry and business investment in local communities and is forecast to boost Australia’s GDP by $16 billion.

“It will deliver economic opportunities for the regions by moving food and fibre between Melbourne and Brisbane in larger volumes on double-stacked trains and more cost-efficiently.

“This means more money in the pockets of local farmers and communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who will also re-invest that money back into inland Australia.”

Nigel Scullion, minister for Indigenous affairs, said enhancing employment opportunities for Indigenous adults is a critical priority for the Australian government.

“The Inland Rail’s IRIPP was exactly the sort of initiative which assisted the government’s goal of encouraging and delivering more jobs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families throughout the 1,700km track, while working with the private sector,” Scullion said.

“This IPP is about creating opportunities for Aboriginal people – whether through training, employment or procurement services – to participate in the transformational Inland Rail infrastructure project.

“Every person employed or trained through the Inland Rail will develop new skills and expertise, which will enhance their future, long-term employment opportunities and strengthen the capacity of their local communities.”

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