But Justice Jonathan Beach said on Wednesday that the ACCC had failed to convince him that the agreement breached sections 49 and 50 of the Competition Act.
Justice Beach said he would have found in favour of the ACCC on section 50, that the sale would have the effect of substantially lessening competition, if it were not for “unconditional undertakings” Pacific National gave on the last day of the trial guaranteeing other operators access to the terminal.
Those undertakings convinced him that Pacific National’s control of the terminal would not deter other operators from entering the market, as the ACCC had argued.
Since the ACCC first blocked the sale to Pacific National, Aurizon has sold its loss-making Queensland intermodal business, which was originally part of the $200 million deal, to the trucking giant Linfox rather than shut it down.
Pacific National also guaranteed that other operators would have continued access to Acacia Ridge.
Through the course of the case, some of Australia’s biggest companies including Coles, Woolworths and steelmaker Bluescope said they would not be able to use trucks to transport goods into northern Queensland if the Acacia Ridge sale hampered access to rail.
More to come