ALEX Ferguson believes an inland port at Parkes will benefit producers right across the Central West.
On July 30, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced that the Parkes port would be funded by the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.
Mr Ferguson, a Bathurst resident, was a key figure in the original investigation for an inland port at Parkes and was understandably pleased to hear the project could finally happen more than 20 years after it was conceived.
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As much of regional NSW relies heavily on agriculture for its economy, he said it was crucial that the sector evolves to meet the demands of the global market.
And a large part of that is utilising transport to distribute product in a more direct and efficient manner.
“I very much support the direction of the Premier and Deputy Premier in terms of the development of Parkes, with the inclusion of the airport,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The simple point about the airport is that the Inland Railway will handle bulk commodities, it will not handle high-value perishables, which is our unique position in the global future of food,” he said.
“You don’t put steaks in containers, you don’t put milk in a container – you stick it on an aeroplane.”
Mr Ferguson said Sydney has always been viewed as the transport hub of NSW, but there is an opportunity for regional areas to “have a crack at globalisation, too”.
He said producers in the region are the creators of the products the market wants and they could take advantage of the port in Parkes to benefit their businesses.
“And there would be a whole raft of other products that would be developed if there was an opportunity to market directly,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The real exercise for on-farm profitability is moving the producer up the value chain.”
He added that it was crucial for the people of inland NSW to back the project to ensure that it does go ahead, so the employment and economic opportunities it presents can be unlocked.