Mr Joyce said the Gladstone link would deliver construction jobs to rural communities and better connect coal projects to port, and agriculture to “another major export gateway”. The connection is estimated to blow the total cost out to $20 billion.
Announced by the Turnbull government in 2017 at a cost of $8.4 billion to taxpayers, the Morrison government’s commitment to the Inland Rail has already increased to $14.3 billion.
Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd represents the electorate of Flynn, which is based around Gladstone. He is retiring at the next federal election, due by May next year, and Labor is expected to offer strong competition in the upcoming poll.
Mr Morrison has said he wants to achieve net zero emissions “as soon as possible and preferably by 2050”. His tilt towards greater climate action has come in the lead up to an international climate conference in Glasgow, where Australia will face pressure from key allies to increase its climate action.
Australia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas contribution by at least 26 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 emissions, but has not set a deadline to hit net zero emissions. Most other developed nations have committed to roughly halve their emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 or earlier.
Energy and Emissions Reductions Minister Angus Taylor has committed to release a long-term emissions reduction plan ahead of the summit.