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Off The Rails

KiwiRail, our much propped up, state owned, loss making monopoly national provider, has done the unthinkable: reportedly awarding a $371m Government rail contract to overseas companies ahead of Kiwi firms when we are all supposedly meant to be supporting local businesses.

Fletcher and Downer were pipped at the post in their joint bid for the Papakura to Pukekohe rail electrification contract in South Auckland costing the Kiwi firms hundreds of local jobs.

The competing New Zealand and overseas tenders were reportedly "very, very close" but cost played a determining factor, media reports say.

Come on KiwiRail, get on track. Look at what your unconscionable decision - if it is already cast in stone - is costing the country in terms of jobs, livelihoods, community recovery and confidence to work as a team of 5 million to pull through this recession with a fair chance of reviving and thriving again.

New Zealand enterprises need to support New Zealand enterprises and save jobs rather than follow the dictates of “least cost” prescribed in government manuals which are not fit for the purpose of economic recovery or take into account the nation’s best interests and priorities to mitigate the desperate circumstances New Zealand businesses are in.

Remember, we are all in this together.

Giving work to Chinese-owned firm John Holland and South African-owned McConnell Dowell rather than looking out for Kiwis is out of step with the times and out of step with the principles our leaders are invoking.

We know there are more projects to tender for under KiwiRail's $1 billion Auckland Metro Rail Programme, including the $315m third main line out of Auckland between Wiri and Quay Park, and further support for the $4.4b City Rail Link.

Will the rules of engagement be rewritten to be fit for the times and support national recovery rather than offshore enrichment? Will KiwiRail remember it is taxpayer owned and needs to do what is right, not what is cheap and expedient. Time to rethink your position, purpose and perception of what is right rather than play a numbers’ game KiwiRail.

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