INDEPENDENT NEWS

Nationalise This, Helen

Published: Wed 4 Dec 2002 05:45 PM
Nationalise This, Helen
The Government's proposal to purchase Tranz Rail tracks for millions of dollars is absurd, ACT Commerce Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.
"Along with Cuba and North Korea, we are the only country in the world that is ruling out privatisation and embarking on a programme of nationalisation. What an inspired trio: Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and Helen Clark.
"The Labour Government is weakly caving to pressure from highly-paid public relations operators who represent a bunch of companies which would like freight charges to be lower. These PR professionals are taking advantage of the naïve politics of the Green Party and New Zealand First to push the private agenda of Fonterra, Carter Holt Harvey, Fletcher Challenge Forests, SOE Solid Energy and BHP NZ Steel.
"If dairy owners and supermarkets argued the price of milk was too high, would the Government buy dairy farms?
"At the moment New Zealanders are free to buy shares in Tranz Rail if they wish - it is listed on the sharemarket. That they choose not to is no reason for Labour, the Greens and NZ First to force them to invest in the railways.
"This Government is getting into a habit of rewarding poorly performing companies by bailing them out with money from New Zealand tax-payers. Ignoring the unfairness and the waste, that is an appalling signal to send the commercial sector. Tranz Rail should be left alone to either get on with its legitimate business, or go into receivership or liquidation. Those who say that Tranz Rail has no competitors have bought the PR spin. Air and road freight are in direct competition for every Tranz Rail delivery. How many trucking operators does the Government think it has the right to put out of business?
"The Government won't stop with the tracks. The taxpayer will end up buying the tracks, the rolling stock and the locomotives so Fonterra, Carter Holt Harvey, Fletchers and friends can get their cheap freight. And that is not fair," Miss Coddington said.

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