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Australia: Aurizon claims bias in Queensland Competition Authority rail ruling

 |  May 1, 2018

Rail transport operator, Aurizon, has taken a brutal fight with the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) to the state Supreme Court, alleging chairman Roy Green failed to keep “an impartial mind” when handing down a decision last year on how much money the rail group can make from its networks business.

The move by the rail group escalates the battle that has been underway between the company and its regional regulator since December, when the QCA.

Because the ruling would have retroactive effect to July of 2017, Aurizon announced to its customers in February of 2018 that it would revert to sticking rigidly to maintenance schedules in order to save costs, instead of operating a more flexible program that suited their needs better and increased network capacity by 20 million tonnes per year.

The company claims that the draft ruling is flawed in key assumptions it makes on cost of capital and cost of maintenance.

Aurizon has claimed that Professor Green, who has been chairman of the QCA since 2015, was conflicted when the QCA released its draft decision governing rail access on December 15 2017, because he was appointed chairman of the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales, which is used by miners operating in the Hunter Valley to export coal, on December 18.

“Aurizon Network is seeking judicial review of the draft decision on the basis that it was affected by legal error because the QCA did not afford procedural fairness to Aurizon Network due to Professor Green’s conflict of interest and the apprehension of bias,” the rail operator said on Monday, April 30.

Full Content: Financial Review & Aspect Huntley

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