Liberal candidate for McEwen Richard Welch at the site where the Camerons Lane interchange will be built. The Federal Government has allocated money to build the interchange and a Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal in tonight's budget.

By Colin MacGillivray

LIBERAL candidate for McEwen Richard Welch has hailed a $1.9 billion Federal Government commitment to build a Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal, BIFT, and Hume Freeway interchange at Camerons Lane as a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’.

Mr Welch and Senator for Victoria Greg Mirabella foreshadowed the funding ahead of tonight’s 2022-23 Federal Budget, claiming it would secure the economic future of Mitchell Shire’s south.

Council figures estimate the BIFT and Camerons Lane projects combined could support up to 20,000 jobs in the Beveridge area.

The BIFT is proposed to serve as a freight hub for the Federal Government’s Inland Rail project, which aims to take freight off interstate highways by providing a rail link between Brisbane and the Victorian ports of Geelong and Melbourne.

The state and federal governments had protracted discussions about whether to base a hub in Beveridge or Truganina in Melbourne’s west, but the Federal Government yesterday committed to funding both.

The Beveridge hub will be built first, with the government indicating it would be finished by the time the Inland Rail project is scheduled to be completed in 2027.

Mr Welch said more than $60 million for planning the BIFT would be in tonight’s Federal Budget, with the remainder of the full project cost of $1.62 billion included in forward estimates.

The government also announced $280 million to build a Camerons Road interchange at Beveridge to help link the BIFT to the road network.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese visited Beveridge in January to announce $150 million for the Camerons Road interchange if Labor was elected, but Mr Welch said the government’s commitment of $280 million would put less onus on the State Government to contribute funding.

“I think this project is a little over $300 million in total cost, so we still have to have the State [Government] come in and play their role to some degree,” he said.

“There is very little reason why it shouldn’t happen now. The Federal Government’s commitment is very unambiguous in that sense.”

Mitchell Shire Council Mayor Bill Chisholm said the announcement was a ‘game changer’ for Victoria’s fastest-growing municipality.

He said the interchange would facilitate up to 30,000 new homes in Beveridge.

“These important projects will lay the foundation for our community – creating thousands of jobs during construction and providing the essential connections our residents will need in the future,” he said.

“They will support future decades of housing and jobs expansion. The investment in Camerons Lane Interchange and the Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal will change the face of Melbourne and northern Victoria.

“Funding projects of this scale early in the life of growing communities is truly transformational and will ensure that our communities have access and connectivity to the areas where they live, work, and play.”

Mr Welch estimated the projects could take up to 5000 trucks off the Hume Freeway each day and reduce shipping costs by up to 20 per cent.

Mr Mirabella said the projects would result in safer roads and less travel time.

“These funding commitments will create jobs, boost business investment, and drive our economic recovery,” he said.