Save Rail - Winston Peters
17 April 2003
“Save rail: Prebble said it but failed, then National sold it to its mates, now we have a real opportunity to fix it,” said New Zealand Leader Winston Peters.
“Trading of Tranz Rail shares should be immediately suspended in the national interest. The Government then needs to put together a package that protects our transport infrastructure, ensures that we have a viable rail net work, reduces pressure on our roads, and commences a process of modernisation in keeping with a first world nation.
“A loan of $150m to a new Government-controlled entity formed with share capital of (around) $100m would secure ownership and debt at current valuations and provide working capital. A process of rationalisation and the sale of operational assets to New Zealand owner/operators should be accompanied by incentives for cargo movers to direct more of their freight to rail,” said Mr. Peters.
“While the Government should then retain ownership of the rail track ongoing operations would be in the hands of New Zealand public companies and the bulk of the Government’s original investment would be repaid. Current shareholders could be protected through an equal right to repayment along with the Government shares.”
“The end result will be state ownership of tracks (as for roads), operations in the hands of New Zealand transport companies, and a more modern and efficient transport system. We don’t often get the opportunity to address the sins of the past but with the disgraceful capitalisations and planned rundown of infrastructure, the precarious financial position, and pressing safety concerns the Government must act now. Carpe diem!” urged Mr. Peters.