Labor promises regional high speed rail and fleet of emergency ships

Jamieson Murphy
By Jamieson Murphy
January 3 2022 - 11:00pm
REGIONAL PLATFORM: Anthony Albanese announced the policies in Newcastle on Monday. Photo: Peter Lorimer

LABOR has begun revealing its policy platform for the upcoming election, including high speed rail to connect regional areas to cities and an export-import fleet that could be called upon during times of crisis.

So far the party has employed a small-target strategy, with firm policies few and far between. But with an election looming, Labor leader Anthony Albanese made a series of announcements in Newcastle, with the unofficial campaign underway for both parties.



The proposed high speed rail would start with a $500-million project linking Newcastle and Sydney, with plans to connect Brisbane to Melbourne, with stops in Canberra and other regional centres.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said shorter commutes from regional areas would help both rural and metro voters with housing affordability, cost of living and access to jobs by encouraging more businesses to move to the bush, while reducing emissions and road accidents.

"The growth that we've seen outside [capital cities] will accelerate and that growth, when you look at decentralisation, is more attractive for people," Mr Albanese said.

"If you change that dynamic [the length of time it takes to get from regional hubs to capital cities] you change the economics of business locations in favour of decentralisation."

Trains on the line would run at 350km/h, cutting the Newcastle-Sydney commute time from two-and-a-half hours to 45 minutes.

The initial funding would be used to purchase the land corridor, planning and early works, but the project would need state government involvement.

Mr Albanese also announced plans for a strategic fleet of ships that the nation could use for exports and imports during times of crisis, reviving a policy Labor took to the 2019 election.

Labor hopes to have about a dozen Australian-flagged commercial vessels, such as tanker, cargo and container ships, to strengthen the nation's economic independence.

"In times of conflict and crisis, our economic sovereignty and national security are dependent on Australian seafarers working on Australian ships," Mr Albanese said.

"Right now, less than one per cent of Australian seaborne trade is carried by Australian ships, forcing our nation to rely on foreign governments and companies for our essential imports."

An election date is yet to be set, but the Prime Minister must call for one before May 21.

Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.

Jamieson Murphy

Jamieson Murphy

National Rural Affairs reporter

National Rural Affairs reporter, focusing on rural politics and issues. Whisper g'day mate to me at

Get the latest Western Australia news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.