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National Party busy brawling over Inland Rail days before High Court decides fate of Joyce, Canavan, Nash

ABC News, 25 October 2017
An internal brawl in the Nationals over the Federal Government’s Inland Rail project is threatening to fracture the party, two days before its leaders could lose their jobs. All Queensland Nationals backbench MPs and senators have put their names to a letter to Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester, demanding a rethink on how the project is being run.

The letter is a contentious move at a very tense time and it has left some senior Liberals fuming.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, his deputy Fiona Nash, and Senator Matt Canavan may be unemployed on Friday, if the High Court rules they were ineligible to stand for Parliament because of dual citizenship.

The letter, which has been received by Mr Chester, has Senator Canavan’s name to it.

Darren Chester, one of the most senior National Party figures in parliament, is not caught up in the citizenship saga.

Some in senior Liberal ranks are concerned his colleagues are making the Nationals look more unstable at a difficult time.

Inland Rail fury
Queensland Nationals are fuming over the direction the Inland Rail route will take and farmers have labelled the consultation process a farce.

There are concerns the company tasked with building it, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), is not up to the job and that the cost of the $9 billion project could blow out significantly.

In Senate Estimates this week, ARTC boss John Fullerton revealed parts of the track had not been properly costed.

The letter from Nationals MPs and senators to Mr Chester read:

“We are now requesting you to make a public statement, which confirms that the Wellcamp/Charlton alignment may not be the final corridor.”

They also called for a more “transparent process” from the ARTC.