I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Public Transport in the
other place with respect to rail freight. I ask that the minister promote the
benefits of rail freight, and I will go to the specifics a little bit later. We
all know that the drought has hit hard in regional Victoria. It has reduced the
amount of rail freight and has made it very hard for rail operators; however, it
is clearly in the broader community interest that freight is carried by rail
rather than road. Communities throughout Victoria want fewer trucks on the
roads. There are important environmental benefits in using rail for freight.
I strongly support the recent measures to support rail freight.
Also, last year rail freight access charges were reduced for domestic grain
Recently this initiative was extended to export grain, and we
hope that, with a little bit more rain — indeed a fair bit more rain — we have
a good crop to export. In the area of container freight, the government has
added incentives to keep containers on trains and off trucks, so the government
is doing its bit. We hope these incentives lead to a sustainable future for rail
I call on the minister to outline how the government will
promote rail freight as the way of the future and provide me with a breakdown of
the recent $20 million funding announcement that will provide a temporary rebate
for container freight carried on rail services from Warrnambool, Horsham,
Mildura, Shepparton and Tocumwal.