Reopening WA’s mothballed Tier 3 lines, the looming water crisis in the Great Southern and nutting out broader transport issues will be the hot topics at a public meeting in Kulin next month. The meeting will be held at the Freebairn Recreation Centre from 1pm on August 24, with hopes it will attract farmers and politicians to talk about the issues affecting farmers in the Great Southern. Originally planned as a gathering to discuss the latest push to reinstate the mothballed Tier 3 lines, the focus was recently expanded to include water and rural transport issues — including the implementation of the new Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy. WAFarmers Lake Grace Corrigin Zone meeting secretary Sonia Tipton said the meeting would be “for farmers, by farmers”. “We are targeting transport, mainly Tier 3 rail and keeping grain on rail where possible, because it’s cheaper,” she said. “We decided to include water in the discussions because if we don’t get a decent rain very soon, this is going to be a huge problem.” Newdegate farmer Trevor de Landgrafft will chair the event, which is open to farmers and politicians from across WA. The meeting has been organised by three WAFarmers zone groups — Corrigin-Lake Grace, Merredin, and Avon. Farmers from the three groups have been working in conjunction with the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to get WA Government and industry support to try to reopen the mothballed Tier 3 rail lines. The Tier 3 lines, spanning 509km, have been closed since 2014 after being put into care and maintenance by Arc Infrastructure — previously called Brookfield Rail. Arc holds a 49-year lease on WA’s entire rail network after the then Court Liberal government controversially leased the lines to the company in 2000. Towns along the closed Tier 3 lines include Narrogin, Merredin, Narembeen, Corrigin, Kondinin and Kulin. Hyden farmer Colin Nicholl said the meeting would demonstrate to the State Government, CBH and Arc Infrastructure that farmers were “very keen to get an update in our rail network and Tier 3”. “We need to get the message across that with our competitors like Argentina and the Black Sea, their governments are all putting money into upgrading their rail network,” he said. “That message is just not getting through. “We have this Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy, which has a lot of recommendations that need to be implemented. “There is no money being put with that strategy, and no timelines, but they have put in priorities.” Mr Nicoll, who first joined WAFarmers in the 1960s, is with the Corrigin-Lake Grace Zone. The latest push to reopen the lines comes after WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti announced in March she had commissioned Perth-based engineering firm Agonis Group to assess the structural integrity of WA’s closed Tier 3 lines. It was the first time the lines have been physically assessed to determine how much it would cost to repair and reopen them. Agonis Group completed its assessment of the lines this month but it will be at least eight weeks before a report is finished and the cost of restoring them is revealed. Ms Tipton said it was important to hold the meeting now because the “reality was” that farmers would be very busy by the time the report was finished and hopefully released in coming months. “We are trying to be proactive and get on the front foot,” she said. “The main purpose is to get as many farmers there as possible to inform them of what is happening regarding Tier 3, transport issues, and water issues. “Politicians only listen to constituents if the message is put clearly, and sometimes you need a big meeting to put the message clearly.” The meeting is open to farmers from across WA. RSVPs to the three WAFarmers zone are appreciated but not essential.