Moree is celebrating the announcement of a $3.4 million grant by the NSW government to build roads and improve access around the Moree Intermodal Park.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Moree mayor Katrina Humphries, members of the Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) and representatives of the Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) were joined by deputy premier John Barilaro on Friday to announce the funding for stage one of the Moree Intermodal Project.
Stage one will allow Moree Plains Shire Council to establish the North-South Link, which is a key part of its Inland Rail program, and comprises of:
- The construction of a section of new road connecting Tapscott's Road to Burrington Road south of the Louis Dreyfus Company site and north of Council's Evergreen Precinct
- An upgrade of an existing unsealed and flood-prone road running parallel to the Newell Highway east of the Inland Rail corridor linking to major intermodal facilities and the Moree Intermodal Park.
The funding comes from the state government's Growing Local Economies Fund which is part of the $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund that's designed to support economic growth and create jobs in regional NSW.
On top of the NSW government's funding, Moree Plains Shire Council are contributing $205,000 with a further $337,000 to be added by industry.
Cr Humphries believes Friday's announcement was an indication of the state government's confidence in Moree's future and said Council has developed a vision to ensure Inland Rail has a positive impact on the community.
"Our economic development, planning and engineering teams have worked in close collaboration with the NSW government and the Moree LALC to secure this exciting investment," she said.
"The support of both the NSW government and private industry is critical. It is great to see that our state counterparts recognise that the Moree Plains is so well positioned to play a pivotal role in unleashing regional development opportunities off the back of this nation-building project.
"We commend the strong economic vision the NSW government has for regional NSW and for Moree in particular."
Mr Marshall reiterated Cr Humphries' comments, saying this project, alongside the Inland Rail, will be a huge economic boost for the region.
"Inland Rail gives us the opportunity, not only to put more money back in the pockets of farmers instead of trucking produce everywhere and put it on rail, but with the first stage of essentially a major consolidation, containerisation, intermodal loading and unloading facility here, it will mean all roads will lead to Moree in the future and I for one am incredibly excited about that," he said.
"The job prospects that it brings, not just working on the intermodal but the other businesses that it will drag here is huge.
"The sky is really the limit."
Mr Marshall said that this is the first stage of what will be the most exciting project in Moree's history, at least since the construction of the Copeton Dam.
"It will bring more business here and this is just the start as far as I'm concerned," he said.
"I want to see the state government continue to partner with Council and the private sector to build onto this with stage two and then obviously culminating in, hopefully, we can see Moree as one of those very few special activation precincts in the state where we can make it easier for businesses to establish here as well."
Mr Barilaro is excited about what this project and the Inland Rail could mean for Moree, after already seeing success in Parkes through its special activation precinct.
"Inland Rail will change the face of regional NSW for a number of our communities and what we're already seeing in Parkes with this special activation precinct, it becomes an inland port," he said.
"What we're already seeing is a lot of international businesses locating and relocating to Parkes.
"There is excitement in the air in Parkes and there's no reason it can't be the same here in Moree."
Mr Barilaro said that while there's nothing that can be done about the current drought, the NSW government is still committed to building prosperity in the regions.
"It's exciting for the region, it's exciting for this community, but most importantly, it's about an investment saying that we're open for business," he said.
"That regardless of the drought, we're going to get on with what we do and that is to attract industry and business and more importantly, create jobs right now.
"This money will mean money will be spent in the local community, supporting local jobs and that's got to be a good thing for this region as we are doing it tough."
Cr Humphries expressed her pride in a great working relationship between Council and the Moree LALC and its chairman Tom French and vice-chairman Lloyd Munro.
"I cannot tell you how supportive Tom, Lloyd and the Lands Council more generally have been in the process," she said.
"The North-South Link will long be remembered as a great example of what can be achieved when state and local government work with the Aboriginal community and industry."
"We are so pleased this project will be funded by the NSW government," Mr French added.
"For members of our local Indigenous workforce, Council's Inland Rail program has the potential to deliver the real financial security, rewarding work and personal development including through representing and mentoring their communities."
Cr Humphries added that Council has been working with key stakeholders and the NSW government for over three years to help secure the infrastructure investment.
"This investment is crucial in a time of drought and will allow the community to position itself to ensure that, when it does rain, we take advantage of every opportunity."