Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 4 Number 1 Contents 70 futurebuilding Volume 4 Number 1
Aurizon's recent journey gives a glimpse of
the larger opportunity in rail, and elsewhere, in
an environment where we have to carve out new
approaches to infrastructure investment.
The privatisation in 2010 liberated much-needed
funds for the Queensland Government, which of
course had lost its AAA rating in the global nancial
The current state government has further
bene ted by selling down the large part of the
remaining shareholding in our company at a
premium. No longer, then, is government lumbered
with capital commitments underwritten by taxpayers
for coal railways in Queensland, or iron ore haulage
in Western Australia, or the many other things that
we do with a substantial capital budget.
The investment, though, far from stopping, has
We are midway through a $2 billion investment
program in the central Queensland coal network -- a
program that will see an additional 70 million tonnes
of capacity added to that network by 2015.
This leverages the existing infrastructure assets,
building on the inherent scale and ef ciency of
Privatisation has also been mighty liberating,
of course, for the company. We can now squarely
focus on customer value and shareholder value, with
employees much better engaged around those kinds
Transformation has shifted up a gear with
a relentless drive on cost efficiency, as well as
We've shed many legacies from the 150 years
of government ownership, big bureaucracy, and,
frankly, trainloads of archaic rules that governed us.
Nonetheless, we must continue to be leaner,
meaner and faster. We've made, since privatisation
through to June 2013, some 1600 redundancies across
our organisation, or 15 per cent of the labour force,
while actually carrying more product for our customers.
In July, we announced a further $230 million
in cost and ef ciency savings to be put in place
Of course, we are not alone; other rail and port
entities have been born out of similar privatisation
processes, and have embarked on similar journeys.
It's a reminder, then, that the net result will be
an increasingly competitive and dynamic market for
freight and port services, driven by customer demand,
funded privately, and with an appetite for growth.
We need more of this. And we need to work
harder at squeezing more tonnes down existing
supply chains, sweating assets, streamlining and
integrating -- particularly around port and rail
interfaces, in our case.
So in that context, what could be on the agenda
for our new government, and for industry more
generally in this rail space?
Here are just a few ideas.
The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal has the
potential to be a gateway for future land transport
productivity. Road, rail and shipping would work
seamlessly between an ef cient, scalable inland hub
of one of the nation's biggest container ports.
I know that this is a work in progress, but some
are still clinging to a government-led proposal when
the private sector is ready, willing and able, and is
several years ahead.
Without hesitation, government should not
have signi cant equity, commercial involvement
or management rights at Moorebank. This is simply
The government mandate, in my view, should be
one of facilitation, to nurture a long-term strategic
solution with the requisite environmental, regulatory
and planning approvals.
Let the private sector do the heavy lifting in terms
of the funding, the development and the delivery.
Qube and Aurizon in the SIMTA consortium are
standing ready to provide a genuine common-user
facility at no taxpayer cost, and should be allowed
to get on with the delivery of the project without any
Acacia Ridge in Brisbane has been operating like
this for many years.
I also see talk of the privatisation or
part-privatisation of the Australian Rail Track
Corporation. The discussion is a good thing, but let's
also get the structure and the economics right.
Let's ensure that the assessment considers
its disparate parts, relationships to markets, and
respective commercial values of assets.
Certainly the Hunter Valley Coal System is
abundantly different to the intermodal network
traversing the country. Let's understand how we
effectively recycle the capital into long-term strategic
infrastructure in the same broad class.
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