Call for open grain rail discussion

29 Oct, 2013 01:00 AM

INDUSTRY is calling for open and transparent negotiations over the Tier 2 and 3 rail lines in a hope a resolution to keep the lines open can be found to the ongoing saga.

One of the major, if not the major, issue to the Tier 3 and now Tier 2 rail line discussions is the lack of information surrounding the lease agreement for the public-owned assets between the State Government and Brookfield Rail.

Both the State Government and Brookfield have so far refused to release any detail on the lease agreement, including refusing to comment on whether there is an exit clause in the agreement.

If the State Government was able to exit the lease agreement, it would allow CBH to deal directly with the State to try and get a deal done.

CBH has already indicated its preference of taking on the lease and dealing direct with Government.

Some senior sources believe State Government has chosen not to break the lease because Brookfield Rail also controls rail lines throughout WA in the Mid West, Goldfields, Esperance, Wheatbelt and South West.

Former Nationals leader Max Trenorden and Nationals member Phil Gardiner campaigned heavily on the Tier 3 issue at the March State election and in a letter to Farm Weekly last week said the State Government had "chosen to ignore stating that the Tier 3 lines are a State Government asset".

WAFarmers president Dale Park met with Brookfield Rail last week in an attempt to help CBH and Brookfield Rail come to an agreement.

Mr Park admitted he struggled to get any real detail about the actual lease agreement and where the CBH and Brookfield negotiations had broken down.

CBH has admitted it has made at least two submissions to Brookfield outlining the Tier 3 lines' viability.

But Brookfield had knocked the plans on its head.

WAFarmers was expected to meet with CBH this week to discuss options.

State Government has continued to say it was up to Brookfield and CBH to form a plan over the viability of the lines and deliver it to State Government.

But it appears CBH's hands are tied – because the co-operative cannot get over the first hurdle of effectively negotiating with Brookfield, while the State Government also refuses to at least look at dealing directly with CBH.

The most information to come out about the lease agreement has been from Mr Trenorden and Mr Gardiner who identified Clause 16 of the agreement as an opportunity for the State Government to exit the lease.

Mr Trenorden and Mr Gardiner said Brookfield's actions in regard to the Merredin to Trayning and Quairading to York lines have triggered the Significant Reduction in Use and Uneconomic clauses of the Lease Agreement.

"Brookfield should surrender the lines to the Government as per Clause 16 of the Lease Agreement," the letter said.

"The Government can then enter into negotiations with all parties, including CBH who may wish to engage in a new Lease Agreement with the Government, hopefully better constructed than the 2000 Lease Agreement.

"This is the only course of action that the Government can undertake for the most efficient use of a State asset."

Farm Weekly followed up on these questions with State Government and Brookfield but recieved little response.

"Brookfield Rail will not be providing comment, as the lease agreement is confidential between Brookfield Rail and the Government," a spokesperson from Brookfield Rail said.

While Transport Minister Troy Buswell failed to respond to Farm Weekly in time for print, but had previously told the newspaper the terms and conditions of the lease agreement between Brookfield Rail and the State Government were confidential.

Former Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of WA president Grant Robins from Kulin also contacted Farm Weekly last week and called for some facts on the argument and asked for Brookfield, the State Government and CBH to be open about their discussions.

The Trayning to West Merredin line and the Quairading to York line will close next Thursday following Brookfield's decision earlier this month.

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29/10/2013 7:23:21 AM, on Farm Weekly

Land close to port is only going to get more valuable. The investment case for on farm storage is growing by the day.
Mr Mace
29/10/2013 8:13:05 AM, on Farm Weekly

After reading this article it sounds like Brookfield is the company that is the biggest part of the problem. The state's whole railway lease agreement should be scrapped and started again.
Someone of Corrigin
29/10/2013 7:27:34 PM, on Farm Weekly

It seems to me that Buswell,Grylls and Davies don't know what to with this issue. There is no money left to fix any thing cause it all being wasted on projects that nobody wants, Bettys Jetty, shire reform, repairs to clapped out power stations, The Elellenbrook Rapid Busway and the list goes on and on and on.
Love the country
30/10/2013 5:54:25 AM, on Farm Weekly

Here we are,just came out of a boom, and everyone's stoney broke. Lack of careful planning is very evident, just look at your local roads falling apart, no maintance, no grading for a couple of years ,it could not go on forever. It will be fun on Perth highways when all grain trucks come on stream during harvest and there is no rail , gee it's great living in the country.


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