Courts block Aurizon
AURIZON has been ordered to keep its rail freight business chugging along as it is hauled through the courts by the nation's competition watchdog.
The Federal Court yesterday ruled Aurizon must continue operating its Queensland intermodal business, the branch of its operations that ensures Mackay's independent grocers have stocked shelves, while it fights the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC announced last month, after a 9-month public investigation, that it had filed an injunction to prevent Aurizon selling its intermodal business to Pacific National.
The intermodal business is the arm of Aurizon's operation where trains and trucks swap cargo.
Independent Mackay grocers, such as Nick Habgood from the West Mackay and East Mackay IGA stores, have previously feared any ACCC injunction would cause Aurizon to halt its rail freight services and jeopardise the delivery of stock to the region.
Aurizon announced in August 2017 that it intended to walk away from the intermodal business, but the proposed sale to Pacific National for $225 million sparked "strong" concerns from the ACCC.
It is alleged the two companies, in agreeing to the purchase of the intermodal business, would "substantially" lessen competition in the supply of intermodal and steel rail line-haul services.
The ACCC also sought orders for injunctions against Pacific National to not solicit employees and the top 10 customers of the business until the court proceedings are finalised, but those orders were not granted by the Federal Court during yesterday's hearing.
Aurizon has continued to strongly refute the ACCC's allegations. Pacific National and Aurizon are the only two providers of intermodal freight in the state.
The final proceedings have been set down for a two-week hearing from November 19.