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Key must explain Williamson’s rail comments

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance

25 September 2008 Media Statement

Key must explain Williamson’s rail comments

Maurice Williamson’s warning that a John Key-led government would not invest any new money in Auckland’s rail system shows National cannot be trusted to keep KiwiRail in Kiwi hands, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.

At a transport forum last night, National’s transport spokesman issued a clear warning to Auckland local authorities not to expect continued government help to expand the role of rail in our biggest city.

He said National did not plan to pull out of projects already underway (such as double tracking) if it wins office, but made it clear that ratepayers would be on their own for any future expansion saying, “But on any new investment, I would ask you to be very, very careful because rail is a huge investment.”

“Our rail system fell apart in private ownership because of a serious failure to invest in tracks and trains,” Dr Cullen said.

“With KiwiRail now in Kiwi hands, we can finally start to make the investments needed to expand the role of rail to help New Zealanders cope with rising fuel prices and in taking action on climate change.

“We need a strong rail system to have a strong, modern, sustainable economy. We will have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen and the Labour-led government will do just that.

“But Maurice Williamson has shown that National still doesn’t care about making KiwiRail a success. He is already warning that John Key has no plans to make the needed investments in rail and public transport.

“John Key must explain what Mr Williamson’s comments mean for rail in other parts of New Zealand.

“One would have thought that Mr Key would be anxious to prove his commitment to our rail system in a week where it has been revealed he had a major conflict of interest in Tranz Rail when the government was preparing to buy back the track in 2003.

“John Key invested in the company that stripped our rail asset bare and closed down services around the country. If he were Prime Minister, John Key would start getting KiwiRail ready for sale once again so the asset strippers can get right back to work.”


ENDS

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