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New KiwiRail chair pops up on North Island port study group

New KiwiRail chair pops up on upper North Island port study group

By Pattrick Smellie

Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) - Newly appointed KiwiRail chair Greg Miller has also been appointed to a five-member working group charged with writing a new upper North Island supply chain strategy to guide the government's desire to integrate port, rail and road transport infrastructure planning for the country's economic and population epicentre.

The Ministry of Transport is close to announcing the five person group, to be chaired by former Northland mayor and health board chairman Wayne Brown, which will advise on a range of major transport and infrastructure issues, including "the current and future drivers of freight and logistics demand, including the impact of technological change; a potential future location or locations for Ports of Auckland, with serious consideration to be given to Northport"; and "priorities for other transport infrastructure, across road, rail and other modes and corridors such as coastal shipping".

A Northport redevelopment could include refurbishment and extension of rail freight services into Northland and to NorthPort, and could ultimately include moving the Royal New Zealand Navy's Devonport base to Whangarei.

Miller's appointment to the KiwiRail chairmanship was announced yesterday after he resigned as chief executive at Toll Holdings on Monday and was heavily backed by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters against initial objections from the Treasury and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The state-owned rail company is therefore changing both its chair and deputy, with both Trevor Janes and Paula Rebstock respectively stepping down, and its chief executive following the announcement last month by current KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy that he was taking up a senior role at Fletcher Building. That decision is understood to have been prompted by the planned appointment of Miller, who was CEO at KiwiRail's predecessor, TranzRail, at the time it was sold back to the government by Toll in 2008.

Also on the working group is a former TranzRail group general manager, Noel Coom, in another sign of NZ First ministers Peters and Shane Jones' determination to inject deeper knowledge of transport and logistics into government thinking on transport and infrastructure.

Susan Krumdieck, a professor in mechanical engineering at Canterbury University with long experience consulting for local government, government departments and community groups on transport, energy and future demand projects will also join the supply chain working group, along with Sarah Sinclair, a construction and infrastructure specialist for law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts.

Its fifth member is Shane Vuletich, who has represented the Society for the Protection of Auckland Harbours lobby group in public debate on the future of the Auckland central city port, and is managing director of the Fresh Information Company, a strategy and forecasting analysis business, with tourism, major events and infrastructure planning experience,

"A system wide review of the Upper North Island supply chain is important because about 55 percent of New Zealand’s freight originates in or is destined for, the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions," the MoT's explanation of the working group says, noting its recommendations could include "investment in the regions, and that the government might need to invest".

No timetable has yet been set for outcomes from the study, the terms of reference for which were agreed last December.

(BusinessDesk)

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