It was a pleasure to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to Indi today. Last year I invited him to come to meet our communities and talk about their concerns on Better Rail. I thank him for doing that.

First, we celebrated the opening of the $16.9 million Wangaratta Sports and Aquatic Centre that’s such a fine example of community groups and local, state and federal governments working together to achieve a world class outcome for our region.

At Bowser, north of Wangaratta, we then inspected maintenance work on the North East Rail Line which is almost complete.

A high-quality, comfortable, on-time North East rail experience is what our communities have been seeking for decades, and I commend Cathy McGowan AO, my predecessor, for securing the $235 million federal government commitment in 2018 for these long overdue works to get underway.

It’s been a tremendous effort by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and contractors and their staff. It was a highlight for me today to meet some of these workers and Ashley Day from LS Quarries in Lima South whose business supplied thousands and thousands of tonnes of ballast for the line upgrade.

I now call on the federal government to commit proper funding for the ongoing maintenance of the North East Rail Line. That’s what’s still missing. Our communities also look forward to the state government delivering on its promise to supply new, well-designed speedy rolling stock for the Albury-Melbourne passenger service.

Better Rail is another important project that will become a great asset for the people of Indi but only if it’s done properly.

More than 200 people turned out at noon to welcome Mr McCormack to Benalla’s historic railway station precinct where they put their case for a responsive, coherent, high-quality plan for railway precincts at Euroa, Benalla, Glenrowan and Wangaratta.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a national project to deliver a legacy we can all be proud of – providing access, safety and amenity for our communities through which Better Rail freight trains will run.

I’m very grateful to Mr McCormack for genuinely listening to what our communities have to say.

I look forward to continuing to work with these communities, the Deputy Minister and ARTC to ensure we get a great outcome.

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