WA Farmers Federation wary of Brookfield-Asciano deal


$8.9 billion takeover riles the WA Farmers Federation, already in dispute with Brookfield over rail access

WA Farmers Federation wary of Brookfield-Asciano deal
WAFF says Pacific National would "no longer be a competing customer in the above rail network".

 

Brookfield’s planned acquisition of Asciano will lead to anti-competitive behaviour in the already turbulent rail freight network in Western Australia, the state’s peak farming body has warned.

The WA Farmers Federation (WAFarmers) says the infrastructure involved in the deal – which will link the Patrick stevedoring operation at the Port of Fremantle with Brookfield’s existing management of the WA grain rail network – is naturally "monopolistic".

It has urged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to impose restrictions on the merger.

"The acquisition of Asciano by Brookfield would lead to the largest interstate rail operator in WA no longer being a customer of Brookfield, but part of their operations," its submission to the ACCC’s inquiry says.

"[Rail operator] Pacific National would no longer be a competing customer in the above rail network and would no longer be subject to the access fee negotiation process that happens with other access seekers."

The WAFarmers says freight rates on rail are already higher in WA, compared to the east coast grain markets. The reliability of service is also declining, it says.

Any restrictions on grain cooperative CBH’s ability to access the port of Fremantle would further erode farmers’ profitability.

"CBH Group, as a customer of Brookfield Rail for above rail access relies upon the state owned assets of ports and railways to allow their business to operate," it says.

"They do this to ensure WA remains internationally competitive in our export markets."

"It is critical for all export focused industries that they are given fair and equitable access to efficient supply chain infrastructure."

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has said the regulator will take "a close look" at the $8.9 billion deal, with a decision on the takeover expected on October 15.

 

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