A trade union boss has called on his members to back a new trade agreement that he says would “put the interests of working people first”.
New trade union president Simon Thomas said the government should scrap the so-called “pipeline” that would create a high speed rail link between Sydney and Brisbane.
Mr Thomas, who represents the Sydney branch of the Australian Construction Trades Union, said he was “livid” at the government’s recent decision to withdraw a “framework” for the new high speed line, which was signed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on July 1.
He said it had created “further confusion” for workers, who had been left without clear information about the project.
“We need clarity, we need clarity about the timeframe, and we need certainty about what’s going to happen when this happens,” Mr Thomas said.
His union is calling on workers to reject the government plan to scrap the $1.6 billion project, which will connect the Northern Territory with the Australian Capital Territory.
It is due to open in 2019.
The Northern Territory Premier, Peter Tain, has been a strong supporter of the proposed high speed link, which he has labelled a “giant leap forward”.
He has described the Northern Australian Government as a “national success story” and has described its high speed railway as a blueprint for the rest of Australia.
But the proposal was rejected by the Northern Territories Government in November last year.
In a statement, Mr Thomas says that “a massive step backwards has been taken in our history”.
“The Government’s rejection of the Northern Australia High Speed Rail Agreement is a further step towards an economic disaster,” he said.
“This decision demonstrates a lack of commitment to our shared future and puts the interests and well-being of our nation’s working people ahead of the needs of the Federal Government.”
Mr Tain says he was disappointed by the decision and said the Federal government should instead focus on improving the economic growth and jobs opportunities in the Northern territories.
Northern Territory Premier Peter Tampinescent said he is “shocked and disappointed” at Prime Minister’s decision to pull out of the controversial project.
“It is disappointing to hear the Prime Minister announce that he is pulling out of a major project, but it is not surprising given that the Government has been very consistent in its policy over the last few years that it is a massive leap forward for Northern Territory and for the entire country,” Mr Tampine said.