Andrew Harding joined Aurizon in December, moving from a wintery London to sub-tropical Brisbane, after 24 years at Rio Tinto, it has been a big change for the newly appointed CEO. Today we welcomed Andrew Harding as he presented to our members.
Quoting from Andrew’s speech,
“Aurizon has a long and proud history. It was the lifeblood of colonial Queensland, linking agricultural and mining communities with regional ports and processors.
It started in 1865, 20 years before the Big Australian turned dirt in Broken Hill.
It has its idiosyncrasies and, likewise, many misconceptions.
When thinking about Aurizon, like some I suspect in this room today, I had many pre-conceived ideas.
A company that sits at the heart of one of Australia’s largest export supply chains.
I expected an unsophisticated and clunky operation; an outfit lacking technology and innovation. One that had barely separated from government: brimming with bureaucracy, silos and duplication.
Unremarkably, I’ve found traces of all this. But more so, I found great momentum for change, a whole lot of talent and a thirst for excellence.
I’ve seen a changing culture. There’s plenty of Gen Ys and Millennials, and a growing, yet under-represented, number of women. This is a major work in progress.
And ALLin, the grassroots employee group that champions LGBTIQ inclusiveness within Aurizon. They have done a remarkable, and perhaps unique thing, by championing inclusiveness without proving to be divisive.
And there are plenty of other things that Aurizon does as well or better than other places.
I have seen this capability over the last month during the massive weather event that was Cyclone Debbie. The storm killed at least twelve people in Queensland and New South Wales, primarily as a result of flooding. This makes Debbie the deadliest cyclone to hit Australia since Cyclone Tracy in Darwin in 1974. In locations west of Mackay, at the heart of Aurizon’s operations, 48 hour rainfall totals exceeded 1,000 millimetres or 39 inches in the old scale. In all, Cyclone Debbie touched communities covering around 4,000 Aurizon employees. Our Central Queensland coal network bore the brunt of the storm. What impressed most in the incident management was the primacy of safety and welfare. Systematically, all employees were contacted and supported where needed. Company-funded Natural Disaster arrangements were triggered, giving affected employees three days’ leave and up to $500 in emergency payments. Post-event recovery has been equally effective. All four coal systems were impacted and closed for vary periods of time. Our infrastructure teams scoped more than 520 pieces of recovery work. The repair bill will be 40 to 50 million dollars. A large part is being spent restoring track on landslips on Black Mountain, west of Mackay – the same spot that got a metre of rain in 48 hours.
I flew over that section after the cyclone and can assure you this has been a major civil engineering exercise. Yesterday, the first 12,000 tonne train ran over the rebuilt track, taking customers’ coal to Dalrymple Bay. We understand the criticality for customers and Australia’s economy of restoring these export supply chains quickly and efficiently. Our infrastructure crews have worked relentlessly on a disciplined and well-executed recovery plan. It is as impressive as any recovery work I’ve seen in mining over a quarter of a century. While some employees have suffered property damage, there were no injuries at home or in the workplace in four weeks since the event to the re-opening of services yesterday. The net impact on earnings is $30 – $35 million (EBIT), when taking a three-year position which factors in expected recoveries. That demonstrates a commercially and operationally resilient business in the face of Category Four cyclone that struck around 70 % of our asset base.”