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Does Nat policy secrecy mean it will re-sell rail?

1 July 2008 Media Statement

Does National's policy secrecy mean it will re-sell rail again?

The return of rail to public ownwership is a triumph for common sense and a reminder of what went wrong when National refused to make clear before the 1990 election that it was planning to sell the asset, Progressive leader Jim Anderton said today, on the return of rail to public ownership.

Jim Anderton led a parliamentary campaign against asset sales at the time, and warned that the privatisation of rail would fail.

"Before it was elected in 1990, National never made it clear to voters it would rush out and sell the trains. The result was a fiasco and a betrayal of voters. In private ownership, the railway never lived up to the promises made. It was asset stripped. Services were run down at enormous economic and environmental cost to New Zealand.

"The entire network was sold for less than the value of the wooden sleepers!

"Because rail has been badly run since before even Richard Prebble infamously betrayed his promise to 'save rail', our roads have been more congested than they needed to be, our businesses have lacked the infrastructure they need to strengthen our economy and our greenhouse gas emissions from transport have risen much more than they needed to.

"Kiwi cash has been flowing overseas to owners in places like Wisconsin and Switzerland - not known for their loyalty to New Zealand. And its shameful past includes a refusal to take responsibility for cruel injuries it caused to a little boy."

Jim Anderton said the failure of rail privatisation was entirely predictable.

"Some assets are a natural monopoly, and a railroad is a pretty obvious example.

"But once again National is refusing to make clear what it would do after an election, just as it did in 1990.

"National had a secret agenda then and its failure to be explicit today about what it would do in office is a reminder that it could sell out New Zealand again," Jim Anderton said.


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