IT’S now or never for the development of a high- speed rail service linking Melbourne and Sydney, former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer will tell business, government and community leaders in Albury today.
Mr Fischer is one of several guest speakers at a series of knowledge workshops that will open the annual State of the Region event at the Albury Entertainment Centre.
Yesterday he said it was time to get serious about determining how the high-speed rail link would be developed in south-eastern Australia.
“It has the capacity to provide a huge leap forward for decentralisation in regional Australia,” he said.
“But the logical corridor for the link is in danger of being built out as a result of urban creep.”
Mr Fischer said the federal government was to be commended for proceeding with the second phase of AECOM’s high- speed rail report, a strategic study on the implementation of the proposal for the east coast.
“We have got to take this leap forward,” he said.
“It is not rocket science – it is standard fare.
“The community needs to build the commitment and knowledge to make this happen.”
Mr Fischer said governments would respond to an “absolute groundswell of public opinion to just get on with it”.
“It is a whole new rail system, freestanding, away from existing state systems,” he said.
“My message is that it is now or never.
“We have the capacity to essentially provide the icing on the cake of decentralisation once people can commute to and take up residence in locations within the region such as Chiltern, Culcairn and Albury-Wodonga.”
Murray Now, which is hosting the State of the Regions event, will tonight launch its regional profile and industry investment prospectus from 5.30pm at the Albury Library Museum.
The launch will be followed at 8pm by a live hypothetical on the question of “population explosion”.
It will be facilitated by former ABC newsreader and SBS television’s Letters and Numbers host Richard Morecroft at the entertainment centre.
The annual State of the Region dinner will round out the event tomorrow night with keynote speaker Michael Pascoe.
Nicole Doughty of Murray Now said tickets for events were still available through murraynowsrd.com.au or call (02) 6023 6300.