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Govt’s Failure To Fund New Interislander Ferries Example Of Short-term Thinking

The decision to not fund the purchase of new Interislander ferries shows the Minister of Finance is out of her depth, said NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff.

“The failure to adequately fund the purchase of the new ferries is an example of this Government’s short-term thinking,” Wagstaff.

“The Minister of Finance is well out of her depth. What value for money is delivered by throwing away potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties to pay for breaking the contract? What value do New Zealanders get from buying used ferries that will need to be remodelled anyway to work in New Zealand?

“This is classic short-term thinking - the very opposite of responsible economic management. Not only will this decision cost us right now, but it undermines the economic and social resilience of the country. We will bear the cost of this ineptitude for decades to come.

“The Interislander ferry fleet is in dire need of replacement. The ferries experience regular technical problems, disrupting plans for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, and interrupting the flow of $14 billion worth of freight every year.

“These new ferries would have upgraded our ability to move that freight via rail, a capacity that will be lost under Nationals new plan. It hurts our ability to deliver on our climate goals and reduces the resilience of our already strained transport network.

“The new ferries that the Government had ordered from Hyundai would have secured this crucial transport link for decades to come and increased the flow of goods and does so with a lower emissions profile. Instead of building Aotearoa up, It is telling that this Government places little value on the key connections between our island nation.

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“This kind of infrastructure is essential if we are to modernise and grow the economy over the coming years. This Government has talked a lot about getting the economy back on track, yet it is axing a vital piece of infrastructure that would deliver this.

“The Government has claimed that the upgrade will cost too much. However, previous CTU’s analysis shows that, over the lifetime of the assets, the cost of upgrading the Interislander ferries is only around $11 per New Zealander a year. By contrast, the landlord tax cuts will cost Kiwis $139 each year,” said Wagstaff.

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