AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Little sees gains from Patrick and national ports regulation

<p>Projected cost savings of more than $65m from the purchase of Patrick Corp and the hope for a more unified Australian ports structure were two major points to come out of an ABC interview with Toll Holdings managing director Paul Little yesterday (Sunday, July 9).</p> <p>&#8220I think we will exceed the 65, and we will probably get there quicker than the three years we had originally set ourselves," he told the <em>Inside Business</em> program.</p> <p>While saying he would not buy into debate sparked by treasurer Peter Costello’s comments on the need for federal control of ports, Mr Little pointed to ending duplication and the value of national oversight as areas that should be addressed.</p> <p> &#8220There is no doubt that if you are able to overlay all port operations with one regulator, that would bring certain efficiencies going forward,&#8221 Mr Little said. </p> <p>&#8220Each port in Australia has got a different depth shipping channel, ships are getting bigger. All of those things need to be co-ordinated. Security needs to be co-ordinated. </p> <p>&#8220So I think there are certainly some arguments for looking at removing some of the overlap that exists today in regulation.&#8221 </p> <p>Mr Little also backed plans for a new north-south rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne but foresaw business needing to contribute cash to create the $4bn-$5bn link. </p> <p>"From our point of view, we put a very small percentage of our east coast freight on rail at the moment, probably less than 20%," he said. </p> <p>"We would certainly like to see closer to 50% of our freight movements between Melbourne and Brisbane on rail, and this is one way we could achieve that." </p> <p>Mr Little valued rail concern Pacific National at about $1.2bn but said there were no plans for a float.</p> <p>&#8220There’s been significant interest and from a fairly broad group which is somewhat surprising,&#8221 he said. </p> <p>&#8220There’s the trade buyers, the financial sponsors and the infrastructure groups, so I have no concerns about our ability to find a good partner and achieve the right price.&#8221</p> <br />