23 April 2023

Inland Rail report author appointed as acting chair of ARTC

| Andrew McLaughlin
Start the conversation
Dr Kerry Schott

Dr Kerry Schott will act as Chair of the ARTC Board for three months. Photo: National Press Club.

The author of the report into the troubled Inland Rail project, Dr Kerry Schott, has been appointed as the acting chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) board.

Dr Schott delivered the report to the government in early April, and it was released last week by Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King.

The report found that the scale and complexity of the project had been grossly underestimated and that the projected costs had almost doubled from $16.4 billion to $31.4 billion.

Minister King announced that the project’s scope within the originally scheduled completion date of 2027 would be refocused on completing the Melbourne to Parkes section, in line with one of Dr Schott’s report’s recommendations, while additional scoping studies and land acquisitions would continue for the remainder of the route to Brisbane.

Dr Schott is an experienced executive in the private and government sectors, including CEO of Sydney Water, chair of the New South Wales Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board, chair of the Advisory Board to EnergyCo NSW, adviser to Aware Super, and a patron of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

READ ALSO Ambitious Inland Rail project under threat of coming off the rails

In a joint statement issued on 20 April, Minister King and Minister for the Public Service Senator Katie Gallagher said Dr Schott would fulfil the role for a period of three months. “This follows Mr Peter Duncan advising us last Friday he would be taking a three-month leave of absence to serve as acting Secretary of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet in NSW,” they said.

“Dr Schott recently concluded a significant review of Inland Rail and is perfectly placed to oversee the initial implementation of the recommendations she made, and the Government accepted,” they added.

“During her three-month tenure, Dr Schott will focus on recruiting a permanent CEO of Inland Rail, and addressing the governance and board capability shortcomings her report outlined.

Inland Rail

The Inland Rail project report was released in early April. Photo: Inland Rail.

The government accepted all 19 of Dr Schott’s recommendations from the report, including: addressing the skills requirements of the ARTC Board; filling the position of chief executive of Inland Rail as soon as possible; ensuring that ARTC has governance arrangements to deliver both the Inland Rail project and its business-as-usual operations; and conducting a review of the statement of expectations issued by the shareholder ministers of ARTC.

Despite the rescoping of the project to 2027, Dr Schott said in an interview with ABC Radio National on 11 April that the full project must be completed.

“It’s absolutely essential that this line gets built through from Brisbane through to Melbourne, and its main purpose is to carry freight from the north of our country down to the south,” she said. “It’s absolutely essential that the line gets finished.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.