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Return To Public Ownership Would Be Step Forward

Maritime Union of New Zealand media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday 7 March

Return To Public Ownership Would Be Step Forward

The Maritime Union says Government plans to bring rail and ferries back under public ownership would be a major step forward for New Zealand.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the move is long overdue and is required to bring New Zealand's transport infrastructure up to world standards.

"We need an integrated transport system in New Zealand that has a substantial public-owned component for security and stability."

Mr Hanson says deregulation has led to huge damage to rail and shipping.

"For example, we have had massive growth in fuel-inefficient, congestion-creating road transport, whereas low impact modes such as shipping and rail have been let to run down."

He says both rail and shipping are the transport of the future in a world where climate change and peak oil were massive threats.

Mr Hanson says more direction is needed in the transport industry and public ownership of key infrastructure would make this possible.

He says the next step should be a national ports policy that brings ports under public ownership and makes them work co-operatively for the national interest.

"An efficient transport and logistics sector is essential for New Zealand as a trading nation, and leaving it to the market and private interests has been a big fat failure."

Mr Hanson criticized negative comments from the National Party MP Bill English on public ownership and "feather-bedding".

"Bill English knows nothing about the transport sector apart from being driven around in the back of a taxpayer-paid limousine, and the only feather-bedding that has gone on in transport is for the corporate predators who National sold off our assets to at bargain basement prices."

Mr Hanson says Mr English should try to lash some loose cargo on a Cook Strait ferry in a gale before he casts aspersions on New Zealand seafarers.

He says the legacy of the 1990s National Government policies in transport was a failed system, attacks on workers pay and conditions, and worst of all, death and injury through the rundown of health and safety practices.


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