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US rail company deserves explanation

Hon Roger Sowry MP National Party Transport Spokesman

08 July 2003

US rail company deserves explanation

National Party Transport spokesman Roger Sowry says the American rail company that was reportedly 'encouraged' to enter the bidding for Tranz Rail deserves an explanation from the Government.

Reports today suggest rail company Genesee and Wyoming believes it has been misled by the Government, after Michael Cullen struck a deal with Toll Holdings.

"The whole time the Finance Minister was conducting secret talks with Toll even though he'd earlier dismissed meetings with the Australian company's bosses," says Mr Sowry.

"Genesee and Wyoming now deserves some answers.

"The company's invested a considerable amount in Tranz Rail only to find the Government has pulled the rug out from under its feet.

"Taxpayers now need to know why Toll Holdings is a better bet than RailAmerica or Genesee and Wyoming," Mr Sowry says.

"Given the same subsidies, those US companies may well have made an offer that's even more attractive to Tranz Rail shareholders.

"We will never know," he says.

"Because instead of being open and transparent, the Government has negotiated a back-room Public Private Partnership that Ross Armstrong would have been proud to be part of.

"It's clear the Government was determined to get ownership of the tracks at any cost, now the taxpayer doesn't even get an interest in Tranz Rail," says Mr Sowry.

"The Labour Government is taking the New Zealand taxpayer for an ideological ride and Toll is there to clip the ticket.

"Michael Cullen's now paying the price for his earlier hostility with our money," Mr Sowry says.


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