Tag Archives: Toll NZ

National is the biggest liar

Today National has been calling on the Govt to come clean over the true cost of the buy back of the Rail and Ferry system off Toll NZ. Initially the cost was to be $600 million +, but today it’s been revelled that under confidential dealings (as per usual in multi million dollar deals) that the Govt is also to take over the liabilities of the company, which vary according to sources from $100 to $200 million extra.

Sure this is a lot more money, and it’s ‘our money’ (I bloody hate that term). This is more than they initially said it would be and of course is hidden money. But the absolute hypocrisy of National whom all weekend long claimed (in sound-bytes on the radio) that the Govt was spending $1 Billion dollars of “your money” with the proviso “when so many families are struggling” – as if that has anything to do with it.

Sorry sunshine (Mr Key), but $600m + another (at the extreme $200m), still doesn’t add up to $1Billion dollars. Either you are incapable of simple addition, or you are just willing flat out to lie to the people for political gain. Either are reprehensible if you are trying to gain the halls of power.

Disingenuous buggers.

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it’s not a freakin train set

In a very clear signal as to National’s intentions with the national rail network, John Key has once again belittled a very important infra-structural aspect of our economy.

The Labour government yesterday bought the remainder of the rail network including an Interislander ferry (the other two are on lease) after 15 years in the private sector. The original NZ rail network was a major causality of the radical right wing sabotage of the Fourth Labour Government – Rogernomics (the merits of can be debate for and against for eternity).

Under Jim Bolger’s National government in 1993, the rail infrastructure of NZ was sold 60% to overseas investors and 40% to NZ investment company Fay, Richwhite & Company, which proceeded to asset strip the company (as these investments tend to do), reducing it to a shadow of a rail network. There is of course the murky business of the New Zealand Securities Commission investigation into the alleged insider trading of David Richwhite and Midavia Rail, which was settled with a $20million dollar settlement, although Richwhite was able to escape any liability or acknowledgement of guilt (I guess $20mil will buy you anything).

Fast forward to 2008, and the Government bought back the entire rail network of Toll NZ, thus once again bringing into the national asset base. Those ideologically opposed to governments owning companies (and to that extent infrastructure) have signalled their outrage, and of course on of the architects of this whole mess Richard Prebble has shown his displeasure, no surprise considering he is deeply entwined in far right politics these days.

I could (and probably would) argue that in the current climate of insecure global commodity prices, fluctuating and sharply rising fuel prices, increased transportation costs and the need for modern transport infrastructure, that a rail network will play increasingly major role in the economy of a modern nation. This will of course have to be with a new mindset and not revert to old ways of thinking about business and rail networks – but hey Kiwi’s have never been one to shirk away from innovation.

{Side note, Colin Murdoch the Kiwi inventor of one of modern life’s most important tools the, disposable syringe, passed away this week. A great Cantabrian inventor.}

However, National’s current leader expressed his displeasure at the news of the government purchase with the flippant comments, that the Government has bought a “Train Set”, tells us so much about Nationals thinking, particularly around strategic national infrastructure assets. He was either being a completely facetious, sanctimonious and/or completely disingenuous, or dear we say it – just a complete twat.

The national rail network, remembering it’s an integral part of any modern infrastructure, is not a train set. Are the hydro dams children’s backyard lakes? It is very disappointing that someone who pretends to be a future Prime Minister could be so flippant and work in sound bytes so easily. Does he think the average Kiwi is incapable of understanding the issues, that he has to reduce the argument to that of kid’s toys?

It would have been bloody refreshing for the man who wants to run this country to have said something along the lines like; National is opposed to the purchase of this national infrastructure asset, however, as it is now back within the national asset list, we will be looking to make this an incredibly efficient, innovative and profitable national asset as possible.

No no, Key doesn’t want governments owning ‘Train Sets’.

And NZ if you are rightly proud of ACC (unmatched internationally), hold on to that for a short while, National of course has signalled that this is going to be opened up for competition. And considering how well opening up national assets in NZ has gone in the past, be very afraid.

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