Day of shame for National Government and KiwiRail Management

Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday 15 July 2011

The Alliance Party says Friday 15 July is a shameful day for New Zealand, as a shipment of Chinese built railway wagons are unloaded in Tauranga, less than twenty four hours after it was announced over 40 wagon builders at Hillside workshops will be made redundant.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn should resign immediately.

“CEO Jim Quinn should resign immediately”

She says Minister for Transport Steven Joyce and Prime Minister John Key should be held accountable in the November elections for failing to intervene in this debacle that has seen New Zealand taxpayers’ money go offshore and New Zealand workers sent to the scrapheap.

Another 30 workers will meet a similar fate at Woburn workshops in Lower Hutt.

“If policies like this go unchecked the only jobs available will be in hotels and on dairy farms. We won’t own any hotels or farms though. Ownership will be the domain of wealthy overseas investment corporations. We will be tenants in our own land.”

“We will be tenants in our own land”

The Alliance is backing union pickets in Tauranga.

“They are doing it for the workers at Hillside and Woburn, and ultimately all New Zealand workers. Unlike Quinn, Joyce and Key, they deserve wholehearted support of all New Zealanders.”

The Alliance Party would require all rolling stock to be built in New Zealand in KiwiRail’s own workshops.

Ms Murray says “We challenge all other political parties to say the same.”


For more information, contact Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray on 02112672843

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A Reply to Michael Woodhouse

In a recent opinion piece in the Otago Daily Times , National List MP Michael Woodhouse justified the lack of involvement by his government in Kiwi Rail’s awarding of key contracts to overseas companies by saying that it was always gong to be a commercial and not a political decision. He goes on to outline the key financial considerations Kiwi Rail followed, and the difficulty of making such a tough call.

Kay Simmonds Murray outlines how he is just plain wrong.



Michael Woodhouse

Tenders are confidential and the tender prices were not made public but I understand Hillside’s price was about 25% higher than the successful bidder.”

 Kay Simmonds Murray

KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn was quoted in ODT 30th May as saying “On price, the Hillside bid was about 15% more expensive than the CNR-PPD tender.”


She notes that

In that item, Jim Quinn neglected to tell us whether the agreed purchase price includes the cost of the tendering process and the visits to inspect overseas workshops etc. These are extra costs that would have been avoided if KiwiRail’s own workshops had simply been given the work to do, which has been normal procedure for the past 100 years.”

In his opinion piece, Mr Woodhouse neglects to point out, given that this is over a ten year period, it would be cost of only $6 million a year.”

Having the wagons built in New Zealand is actually cheaper for the New Zealand taxpayers. Buying the wagons overseas, as KiwiRail has done, is a cost to the New Zealand taxpayer. “


Citing a 2010 report by BERL on producing the trains in New Zealand*,  Murray points out that any overseas tender would need to be 29% cheaper than Hillside if immediate benefits are considered and 62% cheaper if all the benefits are considered such as skills development and maintenance, support for supply and service industries, export potential and impact on foreign exchange, crown revenue and trade balance.



Michael Woodhouse

“The Government is prevented by the State-Owned Enterprises Act from interfering in operational decisions of this nature.”

 Kay Simmonds Murray

“Surely Mr Woodhouse is familiar with the saying “he who pays the piper calls the tune”? When it comes to KiwiRail the government most definitely pays the piper. By Mr Woodhouse’s own admission the government has provided $250 million in operational and capital funding to KiwiRail this year alone. It has also promised a further $500 million for Auckland’s new electric trains. This sort of generosity with taxpayer provided funds obliges the government to ensure that New Zealand as a whole gets the best possible value for its investment.

Under the State Owned Enterprises Act, KiwiRail is accountable to the government and the people of New Zealand, not the other way around as Mr Woodhouse would have us believe”



Murray points out that the Government has a duty to ensure that KiwiRail fufills the obligations outlined in the KiwiRail statement of Corporate Intent.

These are “being a great New Zealand business and meeting our social obligation.” And exhibiting “a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so.”

 “Outsourcing the building of rolling stock that could be done locally fails the social responsibility test. Furthermore it does not represent value for money for the people of New Zealand.”

 *(The BERL report pointed out there are enormous economic and social benefits from doing the work in New Zealand. If the wagons are built in New Zealand the government gets the benefits of the income taxes paid by the workers, the GST on the wages they spend on goods and services. It gets the benefits of reduced unemployment. )


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Rally 9 July 2011, 1pm, Octagon, Dunedin – save Hillside Railway Workshops!

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Public Meeting 7pm Wednesday 22 June

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Hillside Workers Announce Public Meeting and Call on KiwiRail and the Government to Invest in the Future

A mass meeting of KiwiRail Hillside workers has unanimously called on their employer and the Government to back them and the future of New Zealand railways.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union said a full turn out of workers today voted to fight KiwiRail’s plan to buy Chinese built rolling stock and the Company’s proposal to slash 41 jobs at Hillside.

RMTU official Dave Kearns said “the mood of the meeting was one of determination, the workers here are committed to the future of rail and of the Hillside Workshops”.

“Our members have endorsed a public campaign to turn around the plan to cut jobs.”

“We’ve seen the figures around the pricing of Hillside’s work and the Chinese bid and we don’t think the case for going overseas stacks up. We’re running the numbers past our experts and we think we can make a case for keeping the work here.”

“But this isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about the dozens of businesses that depend on Hillside for work and the people those businesses employ. The downstream impact of these cuts on our families and the wider community doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“We’re holding a public meeting next Wednesday and we’re calling on the community to come along and have their say and back our workers,” said Dave Kearns.

The public meeting is on Wednesday 22 June, 7.00 p.m. at Cargill Enterprises Hall, 199 Hillside Rd, Dunedin, and is hosted by ‘Keep Kiwis Working Campaign’ and the RMTU.

Hillside employs 170 highly skilled engineers in South Dunedin. Ends.

For more information contact Dave Kearns on 027 472 8749

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Hillside Poster for download

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Dunedin people must fight for future of Hillside

Dunedin must fight to secure the future of KiwiRails’ Hillside Workshops, spokesperson David Kearns told members of the newly formed campaign group ‘Keep Kiwis Working- Build KiwiRail Wagons Here in New Zealand’  which met on Wednesday 25 May.

“If we don’t put up a fight it is unlikely that Hillside will get to build any of the 4000 new wagons needed by KiwiRail.  An estimated $100 million plus worth of work.”   Continue reading

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