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Market must be allowed to set Tranz Rail's fate

Market must be allowed to set Tranz Rail's fate

National Party Transport spokesman Roger Sowry says the market must now be left to determine the fate of troubled Tranz Rail. He's commenting in the wake of a revised offer from Australia's Toll Holdings for control of New Zealand's rail network.

"The Government must now honour the promises it made just yesterday, when Transport Minister Paul Swain declared the crown would not enter into a bidding war for the company," says Mr Sowry.

"If Toll's got the best offer and shareholders are confident the Australian company can provide a better return on their investment, then they should be left to draw their own conclusions.

"The Government must also resist the temptation to pursue its empire building agenda by launching a new bid for the tracks if Toll is successful with its takeover," says Mr Sowry.

"Toll has been forced to up its offer because of the Government bid, and that may mean it'll ask a higher price when and if Labour makes another attempt to snatch control of the tracks.

"During this sale process, the Government appears to have made a real effort to put itself offside with the Australian company, when it may now have no choice but to deal with Toll in the future," Mr Sowry says.

"If Toll becomes Tranz Rail's owner, Dr Cullen's short-sighted remarks may end up costing the taxpayer millions more if the Government eventually decides it wants the tracks at any price.

"Labour has presumed the worst of Toll and Michael Cullen's been responsible for driving that perception," says Mr Sowry.

"New Zealand does not need any more damage done to its international reputation after last month's Free Trade body-blow.

"We've witnessed a series of events that could leave our trading partners with the impression that we frown on international investment and New Zealand's controlled by a Government that sets out to undermine major business deals.

"Labour did that with the proposed Air New Zealand/Singapore Airlines alliance, now they've tried it on again with rail," Mr Sowry says.

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