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Govt’s priorities for KiwiRail short-sighted

Govt’s priorities for KiwiRail short-sighted

The National Government’s pressure on KiwiRail to become a stand-alone profit centre is short-sighted and will mean New Zealand loses the wider economic benefits of a well-maintained, publicly-owned rail network, the Green Party said today.

Responding to comments by KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn on Q & A this morning, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said that the National Government has chosen to erode passenger rail services in an effort to get the rail freight business unit profitable enough to sell.

“It’s obvious that the Key-Banks Government wants to get KiwiRail into a position to privatise; why else would they have such a narrow focus on profit margins,” asked Ms Genter.

“Our transport networks are full of cross-subsidies. The National Government is wasting billions of dollars on a few big motorway projects that would never be able to pay their own way as standalone commercial projects. But it won’t invest in getting our rail network back up to scratch.

“New Zealand businesses benefit from rail. Exporters benefit from rail. Road users benefit from rail.

“The country could also be using the revitalisation of rail to create valuable green jobs.

“Most countries are now investing substantially in their rail networks because of the obvious economic benefits, especially as oil prices are expected to double in the next decade.

“Last year the Green Party prepared an alternative transport budget to the Government’s, one that will save $3.5 billion overall but still include an additional $1 billion investment into KiwiRail.

“Not only can we afford to invest in rail, we can’t afford not to.

“We need smart, green transport investment now so all New Zealanders can benefit from a resilient transport network in the future.”


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