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What is the total price for rail, Dr Cullen?

Bill English MP
National Party Finance Spokesman

12 May 2008

What is the total price for rail, Dr Cullen?

National Party Finance spokesman Bill English is calling on Michael Cullen to come clean with the New Zealand public about the likely total cost of the deal to buy Toll’s rail operations.

“Dr Cullen has preliminary figures about how much it will cost the taxpayer to upgrade the rolling stock. He should put them on the table. He should also confirm or reject speculation about a hidden $200 million loan.

“The public will not forgive Dr Cullen if he knew about the loan and forgot to tell them when announcing the $665 million buy-back. As times get tougher, the public must be able to trust the Finance Minister to tell it the way it is, warts and all.

“If Labour is hiding the true cost of this significant election-year spend-up, the public will not forget that easily.”

Only yesterday, Transport Minister Annette King confirmed the cost of the purchase. She told TVNZ’s Agenda programme; ’we’re paying 665 for the purchase of the rail’.

“If the speculation is correct, and Dr Cullen is committing the taxpayer to repaying another $200 million loan to Toll Australia, that would put the Aussie company’s profit on the deal at closer to the half-billion-dollar mark.

“Labour is now throwing the kitchen sink at purchasing rail from an efficient transport operator which was reluctant to sell in the first place. This is all about fighting political battles that are 18 years old, and wasting taxpayer money in the process.

“If Dr Cullen can’t confirm the loan, and won’t reveal his preliminary estimates about the cost of rolling stock upgrades, he’ll have no one but himself to blame if the public becomes very suspicious about this deal indeed.”


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