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Cook Strait Bottleneck Threatens Rural Economy

Cook Strait Bottleneck Threatens Rural Economic Expansion

Federated Farmers Vice President and Transport Spokesman Tom Lambie today voiced concerns that the current shortage of space on ships across the Cook Strait will threaten the economic growth of the rural sector and the New Zealand's economy.

"We are concerned that the current shortage of space is causing significant problems with the vital movement of stock between the North and South Islands will become a long-term problem". The current undercapacity has been created by the departure of the Top Cat Ferry, Tranz Rail's removal of the Arahanga at the peak of the season, continuing mechanical problems with the Aratere and the current inability of the Lynx to take trucks.

"Federated Farmers is concerned with Tranz Rail's inability to address the current undercapacity".

"The Cook Strait is a vital economic and social link between the South and North Islands. Economic prosperity and growth of the New Zealand economy is highly dependent on an efficient and cost effective Cook Strait freight service".

"Federated Farmers is very concerned with the current lack of competition that exists across the Strait".

The movement of stock between the North and South Islands is vital for primary industry, at this time of year. The movement of dairy stock from the North Island to supply the large expansion of dairy farming occurring in the South Island and the movement of prime stock between both Islands is a major issue for primary industry at this time of the year.

Currently farmers, stock agents and transport operators are having significant difficulty booking space for livestock on Tranz Rail's Ships. Agents have informed us that they cannot even forward book any livestock sailings.

Animal welfare considerations prevent stock trucks turning up at the ferry terminals on spec - also the current delays make it very risky to transport stock on the Tranz Rail ferries for fear of stressing the animals.

Federated Farmers is to meet with Tranz Rail Management tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the current problem and will be seeking assurances that definitive steps will be taken to address the current undercapacity.

ENDS


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