Logistics, Ports & Terminals, Mining and Heavy Industries

Harding calls for “proven” competition boss

Coal wagons Aurizon. Photo: Aurizon

Aurizon boss Andrew Harding has reportedly stepped up his criticism of the Queensland Competition Authority, saying its next chairman will need to be “commercially minded” if he or she is to fix a “badly broken” system.

Aurizon recently submitted its formal rejection of the QCA’s draft terms for the rail operator’s management of the Central Queensland Coal Network from FY18 to FY21.

Aurizon has already angered miners with maintenance spending cutbacks which will take an estimated 20 million tonnes of annual capacity out of the network.

But Harding has publicly said the company has been given no choice, after the QCA made “fundamental” errors in its calculations for how much Aurizon is allowed to earn from its operation of the CQCN.

This week the rail boss, who used to run BHP’s iron ore unit, essentially accused QCA chairman Roy Green of not being up to the job.

Green will step down as chairman in June, and Harding – speaking with the Financial Review ­­– reportedly said Roy’s replacement will have to fix a system which is “flawed, unnecessarily bureaucratic and lacking commercial orientation”.

“With a new chairman comes the opportunity to drive fundamental change; to start to fix a system that is now badly broken,” Harding was quoted as saying.

“Someone with proven leadership in capability, with deep experience in regulation of infrastructure assets, and the commercial acumen to bring about commercially realistic outcomes that work for all stakeholders in Queensland’s coal supply chain.”

Green is stepping down after he was named chairman of the Port of Newcastle in December. He was initially appointed to chair the QCA in June 2015 for a three-year term.

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