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Govt Must Honour Promise On Tranz Rail

Hon Roger Sowry MP
National Party Transport Spokesman

12 June 2003

Govt must honour promise on Tranz Rail

The Government must abide by fresh assurances that it will not enter into a bidding war for control of Tranz Rail, says National Party Transport spokesman Roger Sowry.

"Transport Minister Paul Swain has told a select committee today, that the Government will not try to out-bid Australia's Toll Holdings for control of rail.

"The National Party does not support the Government's bid to buy back the tracks, fearing too much taxpayer money will be injected into a high risk venture.

"We're of the view that private operators, like Toll, are better equipped to rebuild the failing rail infrastructure and the Government has no place in the rail business," says Mr Sowry.

"Despite today's promise, it would appear Paul Swain and his Finance Minister are at odds.

"Dr Michael Cullen is already lining up for a scrap with Toll, as shown in a strongly worded letter he wrote to the company which was released today.

"Dr Cullen has told Toll that the 'Government is committed to a course of action' and he does 'not see any realistic possibility of us (the Government) backing away from that course'.

"Those comments alone suggest the Government is determined to follow its ideological path, and take back control of rail at any cost," says Mr Sowry.

"Just yesterday the Finance Minister confirmed the $100 million estimate to fix the tracks was an absolute minimum and in fact the cost would be much higher.

"The New Zealand taxpayer is on the verge of being exposed to significant and ongoing risks, it's critical the market is allowed to function without Government interference.

"It must honour today's assurance that it will not get involved in a bidding war," Mr Sowry says.


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