Dirt channels in preparation for the Adani Carmichael rail line.
Dirt channels in preparation for the Adani Carmichael rail line.

Dutton's leadership spill killed secret Adani rail plans

THE Federal Government was considering a plan to fund a rail line to open up central Queensland to further mining development but abandoned it after Malcolm Turnbull was rolled as prime minister.

Negotiations for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to build Queensland's first standard gauge rail line would have seen the Government take over Adani's original rail proposal to ensure it could be expanded and accessed by future mines.

The former PM held high level talks with a select number of ministers including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, deputy PM Michael McCormack and then assistant to the deputy PM Keith Pitt.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Mr Turnbull had not agreed to the push, which came from Nationals and the Queensland LNP, but had not rejected it either, The Courier-Mail h s confirmed.

Executives in Adani, GVK and Waratah Coal were aware of the negotiations.

Mr McCormack privately told some LNP MPs the scheme would go ahead after it was raised in resolutions to the party's state convention and Nationals federal conference last year.

The talks were not resumed after Scott Morrison became PM and Adani later went ahead with a plan to fund its own narrow gauge rail line that has a more limited capacity.

Mr Morrison's office said it was unaware of the earlier negotiations.

But one of the key players in the talks, Mr Pitt, said the plan for the "ARTC to develop a multi-user railway" should still be considered in a bid to create a jobs boom in central Queensland.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Deputy Prime minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Paul Beutel
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Deputy Prime minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Paul Beutel

"If there was a way to provide an efficient, cost-effective, profitable multi-user railway that would enable the Galilee Basin, then the Federal Government should be considering all options," Mr Pitt told The Courier-Mail.

An Adani spokeswoman said the miner would not comment on earlier proposals and the company it was committed to "building a 200km narrow gauge rail line that will connect the mine site to the existing rail network".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday expressed doubt about whether the Adani mine would go ahead.

"The number of people who are to be employed in this coal mine has dropped from 10,000 to just over 1000," he said. "I will believe it when I see it."



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