The Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter has called on the Queensland Government to halt further privatisation of rail services, saying the experiment on the Mount Isa to Townsville line has failed.
In Parliament this week Mr Katter said of the 136 derailments on that line during 2010-2012, 31 were because of “poor safety standards from privatised rolling stock section, and the Queensland Government should stop abrogating its social and economic responsibilities by privatising services”.
“The LNP’s proposal to outsource the maintenance on this track is a recipe for disaster, particularly if we look at what has occurred with UK, New Zealand and, more recently, Tasmanian rail.
“In all these cases, the private operators who became responsible for the below rail maintenance of the network never invested enough of the returns into maintaining the track to a suitable standard.
“Looking at the amount of investment that is required to bring the 1047km north-west corridor line up to a suitable standard—which I believe is some $3 million a kilometre—and to meet the growing freight demand, it is highly unlikely that once the network is outsourced to a private company that the required upgrade work needed to meet future tonnage will be forthcoming.
“We are seeing maintenance crews taken off this line. Again we are looking at more reductions in staff at Hughenden.
“Every time that rail line is interrupted (through derailment) it means Queenslanders are missing out on revenue that we desperately need.
“So I ask Minister Scott Emerson again – will you rule out more privatisation of rolling stock operations on our rail lines?” said Mr Katter.