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Greens urge caution with rail takeover


16 May, 2003
Greens urge caution with rail takeover

The Green Party today expressed caution about a possible takeover of the beleaguered Tranzrail business, saying all decisions should be made with New Zealand's future interests a top priority.

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the rail network was essential to New Zealand's long-term economic viability and urged the Government to buy back the tracks.

"All parties must proceed with caution until it is clear what is in New Zealand's best interests, " said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Tranzrail shareholders should hold on to their shares until a clearer picture is established about the intentions of American Rail and we have a full understanding of what their commitment to New Zealand's transport needs are.

"While the network is going at a bargain-basement price, it is still unknown if this is a genuine approach, or an attempt by Tranzrail to ratchet up the price in negotiations with the Government."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party would support the Government in efforts to regain control of the rail network and hoped at the very least the tracks would be returned to public ownership.

"The tracks need to be in public ownership to create a level playing field with the road transport industry. In terms of promoting the national transport strategy we believe the best economic model is a public-owned rail network on which private operators, preferably New Zealand-owned, are free to operate.

"New Zealand needs to invest heavily in our rail infrastructure for both economic development and sustainability.

"However, the New Zealand public would probably think twice about public money being spent to upgrade a private rail network and bolster the profits of an American owner.

"Unfortunately with the rail network being systematically neglected to near rack and ruin, a comprehensive and expensive upgrade for the tracks is inevitable."

ENDS

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