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Albanese continues fight for fast rail

AAP logoAAP 21/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

A high-speed rail connection between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra is exactly what the economy needs now, says Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese.

Mr Albanese, a former transport minister, presented a private bill to parliament on Monday which would set up a planning authority to drive the project.

"High speed rail would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours," he said.

It would also help in the development of regional centres such as the Gold Coast, northern NSW, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The MP said he had received "strong indications" from Liberal-National coalition members they supported the idea.

The government appears to be taking the project seriously, with secretary of the infrastructure department Mike Mrdak and former minister Andrew Robb attending the International High Speed Rail Association conference in Japan last week.

A study commissioned when Mr Albanese was minister found a potential cost-benefit of $2.15 for every $1 spent.

Labor promised at the election it would set up an authority and launch an expressions of interest process to capitalise on interest from overseas investors.

Mr Albanese has discussed the issue with a number of potential international bidders.

He admitted there could be some challenges, given there would be 82km of tunnelling needed, most of which would be in Sydney.

However the experience overseas showed it could be achieved with the co-operation of federal, state and local authorities.

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