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Tunnel Vision in Government Buying Proves Disastrous

Tunnel Vision in Government Buying Proves Disastrous

The asbestos scare in Chinese-made KiwiRail locomotives reflects the Government’s appalling shortsightedness in awarding contracts to overseas industry, says New Zealand First.

“The Government has persisted in awarding government contracts on purely the upfront dollar value, now it is coming back to haunt them,” says transport Spokesperson Denis O’Rourke.

The Chinese manufacturer of new freight locomotives has revealed there may be small amounts of asbestos in the soundproofing compound used.

“Taking 40 locomotives out of work while an attempt is made to sort this out will be costly to an already under-resourced KiwiRail and a potential danger to employees.
“New Zealand First has again and again pointed out the huge economic value of taking a broader approach when awarding government business, including job retention, job creation and upskilling of workers.

“New Zealand First’s Buy New Zealand (Procurement) Bill will ensure New Zealand firms provide goods and services for the public sector wherever possible.

“When a local firm gains a contract the spin-off effects will rejuvenate flagging local economies by filtering through to the whole community. Work will flow along the supply chain, creating opportunities for many businesses, and there will be on-going maintenance work,” says Mr O’Rourke.

“New Zealand has always valued its high standards of workmanship and safety, we can count on the quality of the goods produced here. Obviously this is not the case with the Chinese contract.

“Yet the Government has awarded contract after contract overseas, despite Kiwi firms tendering. Valuable contracts have included a $154 million aviation contract to the United States and $8 million for a ferry for Tokelau to be built in Bangladesh, where the safety of workers making clothing is not even guaranteed.

“Just this week a Manufacturing New Zealand report highlighted the ‘procedural bias against New Zealand companies in Government procurement’ and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce followed up by saying the Government is addressing this problem.


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