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Ontrack off track says Auditor-General

Bill English MP National Party Finance Spokesman

2 July 2008

Ontrack off track says Auditor-General

Four years after Michael Cullen took control of New Zealand's rail tracks they are in a shambles according to a report by the Auditor General, says National Party Finance spokesman Bill English.

"If Labour's track record in track management is anything to go by, the taxpayer can only guess what sort of mess Michael Cullen will make of a totally renationalised rail service."

The Auditor-General's Performance audit report: Maintaining and renewing the rail network found:

* There is not enough information to form a clear picture of the state of the rail network. * Systems for identifying and prioritising rail maintenance and renewal are incomplete, disconnected and uncoordinated. * Staff are unsure who is accountable for what. * There are no clear performance targets. * Maintenance delays are creating additional work. * Ontrack does not have the informational tools to manage its day-to-day operations effectively. * It has been all at sea on matters of long-term planning for the rail network; it doesn't even know what resources it will need to create a long-term plan. * Until service levels are established and there is clear, accessible information about the state of the rail network, Ontrack will not be able to determine optimum strategies for managing the rail network or how much this will cost.

Mr English says the catalogue of problems at Ontrack are the tip of the iceberg.

"At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, and when schools can't get new classrooms when their old ones are falling down, New Zealanders will question why the Government has spent more than a billion dollars buying back rail.

"When the taxpayer is pouring such large sums of money into an asset, they want assurances the money is all being accounted for and spent wisely. The Auditor-General's report offers no such assurance."


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