DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is determined to finalise the Narromine to Narrabri section of the Northern Inland Rail project before the next federal election.
By working closely with the NSW Government, the New England MP is hopeful the next stage of the process can be finalised before the election, which is predicted to be next year, in order to prevent the Opposition from delaying the project.
"What we need to do now is work closely with the NSW Government to quickly get all of the approvals for the Narromine to Narrabri section finalised and then we'll have to push through with the North Star to Toowoomba section," Mr Joyce said.
"From there, the trains will move and the wealth will come west.
"If it was up to the Labor party it would never be built, so my job as Transport Minister is to push this nation-building project through."
The project, which is solely funded by the federal government and is being delivered by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is set to connect Melbourne and Brisbane by rail, is supported by the state government via a 2018 bilateral agreement.
Earlier this month, a preferred infrastructure report for the section of the multi-billion project was begun and NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole said when complete, the infrastructure would be a major asset to NSW.
"We are working closely with the federal government on this project, including to improve rail connectivity with important freight sites and regional lines, along with reducing the slopes of some sections of track, and improvements to level crossing safety which will maximise the benefits of the Inland Rail project," Mr Toole said.
"The project will provide better access to and from regional markets, particularly with the NSW Government funded Special Activation Precincts (SAPs) along the Inland Rail route in NSW.
"This in turn will create opportunities for reducing supply chain costs for producers and consumers."
An ARTC spokesperson said the company was continuing to move forward with the latest section of the project.
"ARTC remains active within the Narromine to Narrabri corridor from a stakeholder engagement perspective, undertaking a range of engagement activities including one-on-one consultations with individual landholders as well as continuing design work," the spokesperson said.
"Construction is anticipated to commence in 2022 pending relevant approvals."
The push to fast-track the approvals comes after a recent Senate report was released, which slammed the management of the project thus far.
NSW Farmers and the NSW Country Women's Association both welcomed the report's findings, which was handed down by WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle.
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