NARRABRI Shire is preparing for the estimated half a billion dollars expected to be spent within its boundaries during the construction of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail.
More than 100 people attended a round table to get a detailed update on the project, along with advice on how the district could best benefit in the short and long term.
Narrabri Shire mayor Cathy Redding said about one third of the 300-kilometre Narromine to Narrabri section fell within her shire, which would lead to enormous opportunities.
“It’s estimated that there will be approximately half a billion dollars expended within the Narrabri Shire during the construction,” Cr Redding said.
“Not only are communities going to benefit during this construction phase, but the potential for businesses and agriculture growth will be ongoing.
“Some of the tangible and intangible benefits will be that businesses will have a choice of which port they wish to export product to, and take advantage of lower freight costs, or more timely delivery.”
Narrabri councillors and Namoi WasteCorp owner Ron Campbell said he had up-scaled his business in anticipation of the inland rail.
“Already the ARTC is required by the Commonwealth to contract as much local buy-in as possible, and we want our businesses to be able to hit the ground running for the tender process,” Cr Campbell said.
“You really need to think and act differently to try and secure a contract from these big organisations, and local businesses need to be aware that if they want the jobs, they need to think about upskilling now – don’t wait until the track is being laid.”
Cr Redding said the multi-billion project would only strengthen the region’s growing economy.
“According to the latest Australian Business Register, Narrabri has enjoyed an increase in annual total local business turnover of eight per cent, we are a strong local economy and I believe that with the advent of inland rail we will enjoy even further growth,” she said.