The $14 billion Inland Rail project could be redirected away from Brisbane to Gladstone, if metropolitan NIMBYism holds up approval of the final stage of the project.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, a long-time booster of the rail scheme, made the threat to media last week after acknowledging the job was taking too long.
Mr Joyce said the announcement in Tamworth, in NSW's north east, was his first press conference outside Canberra.
"That's how important it is to me," he said.
"The reason that we're doing it here is because this is a piece of nation-building infrastructure which is so essential in making our nation as strong as possible as quickly as possible."
The Commonwealth and Queensland state governments have yet to agree on an alignment for the crucial final stage of the rail project from the outskirts of Brisbane to the city's port.
Asked what will happen if the final stage is held up, Mr Joyce said it was up to the state government to get the project moving in Queensland.
"If we can't get the Brisbane thing working quickly enough then I believe we need the people of the industrial city of Gladstone, they don't have the problems that other people have," he said.
"They will say 'we want the railway line. If you can't get it to get down there, we want it to come here because we don't have any problems.'
"They're an industrial city, they get it."
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Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the project is 100 per cent federally-funded, with no funding from the state government.
"The federal government looked at the Gladstone link and found it wasn't viable," he said.
"The federal government has already decided on their preferred route for inland rail, which is why four environmental impact statements and an environmental impact assessments are underway along the five sections of their preferred route.
"This can be verified on the federal government's own inland rail website.
"If the federal government wants to change the route, that's a choice they can make it about their own project."
Mr Joyce acknowledged criticism about the speed of the project and said "I want to fix it [the delays]".
He didn't give a new timeline for completion of the job, except to say it needed to be done "as quickly as possible" to prove Australia's resolve to be "doers" to China.
"We have the capacity to e respected because people can see that we're doers that can get things done. And that we are strong in our own right and to that purpose there are a range of projects that are sort of iconic and able to exemplify that," he said.
"Other people will sit back and say 'can the Australians actually build this thing quickly, or are they going to get bogged down in paperwork and bureaucracy and live in the paper paraphernalia of excuses and slight problems that basically go and sit at the foot of inertia? Or are these doers that can just get in there?'"
When finished the scheme will carry trains as long as 3.6 kilometres from Melbourne to Brisbane.
A Commonwealth-commissioned study released in 2020 concluded that the extension of the inland rail project to the Port of Gladstone was not economically viable.