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Key should defer Auckland rail decision & Wong Investigation

Trevor Mallard
Clare Curran
Dunedin South MP

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Key should defer Auckland rail decision while Wong under investigation

Labour today called on the Prime Minister to instruct KiwiRail to defer any decisions on who will win the bid to build electric trains for Auckland.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said the Prime Minister’s admission that he was aware that the Auditor General’s Office had begun an inquiry including into a possible link between Sammy Wong, China North Rail and KiwiRail meant that any decisions on this matter should be deferred until the inquiry was complete.

Sammy Wong is the husband of former Cabinet Minister Pansy Wong.

Trevor Mallard said KiwiRail is poised to make a decision shortly on who will win the tender for the Auckland trains. China North Rail is believed to be one of the shortlisted bidders.

“John Key cannot claim that the Auckland EMU decision is an operational matter for KiwiRail, when the Office of the Auditor General is already investigating links between a tenderer and Sammy Wong,” Trevor Mallard said.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the issues being looked into by the Auditor General were not the only reasons that John Key should reconsider tenders. Labour has repeatedly asked that the Government consider the value to New Zealand’s struggling economy when it decides which company will win the $500 million bid for 38 electric multiple unit (EMU) fleet for Auckland.

“The Prime Minister today revealed he’s not seen any reports on the economic value to NZ of keeping some of that work inside New Zealand. It shows this government has no commitment to keeping a skilled rail engineering workforce in this country, or reducing unemployment in manufacturing.

“KiwiRail recently chose China CNR Corporation (CNR) as its preferred tenderer to supply 300 flatdeck wagons, which raised more questions about Kiwirail’s and the government’s real intentions for New Zealand’s rail engineering industry,” Clare Curran said.

“The decision to choose China’s CNR as the preferred tenderer didn’t take into account the wider economic benefits and spin-offs for New Zealand of using KiwiRail’s own staff at the Hillside Workshops in Dunedin and at Woburn in Lower Hutt to do the work.

“Under the National Government a question mark now hangs over Hillside’s future and the future of rail engineering in this country,” Clare Curran said.

“The Hillside and Woburn workshops, along with the engineering cluster groups in Dunedin and Wellington have proven they are capable of undertaking a large part of this work at competitive prices and at high quality.

“John Key can’t pretend he has no responsibility on this issue,” Clare Curran said.

ENDS

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