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Aurizon coal export threat would derail State Budget surplus hopes

Future State Budget surpluses are under threat if monopoly rail operator Aurizon continues with its plans to halt the movement of up to 20 million tonnes of coal each year for the next four years, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said.

Mr Macfarlane said Aurizon told the Australian Stock Exchange in March its action to change rail maintenance practices on the Central Queensland Coal Network would impact on the movement of up to 20 million tonnes of coal per annum.

“Based on that impact, the Queensland Resources Council expects up to $500 million in reduced royalties to the Palaszczuk Government each year. Over four years, the lost royalties could be up to $2 billion. While there was reference to a likely impact of Aurizon’s action in the Budget papers, there was no estimate of the damage,” he said.

In her Budget Reply speech to State Parliament, Liberal National Party Leader Deb Frecklington made the very important point that all Queenslanders would pay the cost of Aurizon’s actions.

Ms Frecklington said: “Our royalties are being threatened with a $2 billion hit because of Aurizon’s dispute with the Queensland Competition Authority.”

Mr Macfarlane said the lost royalties to the Queensland Government would mean less funds to reinvest in services and infrastructure for all Queenslanders.

“If Aurizon continued with its threat to stop these tonnages of coal, the wafer-thin budget surpluses of $148 million next financial year (2018-19), the $160 million in 2019-20 and only $110 million in 2020-21 would be quickly wiped out,” Mr Macfarlane said.

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