[Sitting date: 01 August 2012. Volume:682;Page:4145. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
BRENDAN HORAN (NZ First) to the
Minister for State Owned Enterprises: Is he satisfied with all aspects of the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister for State Owned Enterprises)
: Yes, but there is room for improvement. The Government is backing the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan with an investment of $750 million over the last three Budgets. It is important to understand that this plan is mainly about freight and KiwiRail’s plan to make its business viable.
Brendan Horan: In view of the multiple faults that have been found in Chinese-built rail wagons and locomotives purchased under the turn-round plan, will the Government order an immediate Audit Office inquiry into KiwiRail’s contracting processes; if not, why not?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am comfortable that the decisions of the KiwiRail board have not been taken lightly and were the result of considerable analysis. The board is responsible for those investment decisions and making the best use of the Crown’s investment.
Brendan Horan: Is the reason that there has been no investigation into KiwiRail’s failure-ridden overseas contracts with China that Ministers interfered with the original locomotive tender and had it extended to allow Chinese companies to enter?
Hon TONY RYALL: I understand that the premise of the member’s questions is incorrect. I certainly do not think that this could be described as a failure at all. What it indicates is that there are some errors, and in a commercial way those problems are being remedied. The member’s other claims have been described as rubbish.
Brendan Horan: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Is this a point of order?
Brendan Horan: I am just asking about those claims being described as rubbish, when they were in the
New Zealand Herald
at the time—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The member cannot dispute an answer by way of a point of order. The member has further supplementary questions to dig into an answer given, but he cannot dispute it by way of a point of order.
Brendan Horan: Why did KiwiRail purchase locomotives from a Chinese company with a poor record, given that Malaysian Railways had to mothball 20 of them, due to severe technical problems?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am sure that the board of KiwiRail took into account all the information that was appropriate for it to take into account at the time of the decision. I think it would be fair to say that the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan is a significant challenge, and I think all New Zealanders would want to make sure that the board was taking all appropriate commercial steps in order to put that company on to a viable platform. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can both front benches please desist.
Brendan Horan: Was the term “Turnaround Plan” deliberately chosen to mislead the public, when the reality of what is happening to KiwiRail is mass redundancies, maintenance cutbacks, outsourcing, and privatisation?
Hon TONY RYALL: I think the definition of the description of it as a turn-round plan is quite appropriate. The previous Government spent close to $700 million to buy that business. It is the sort of business that has seen this Government have to invest another $750 million over three Budgets in order to help that business become viable, and the board is making decisions where it sees that as making sense.
Brendan Horan: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With regard to maintenance cutbacks and New Zealand First’s concern for—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is not a point of order. Is the member seeking leave to table a document?
Brendan Horan: Yes.
Mr SPEAKER: OK. The member must indicate what his point of order is. He is seeking leave to table a document?
Brendan Horan: Yes.
Mr SPEAKER: The member may describe the document.
Brendan Horan: Well, as I was saying with regard to maintenance cutbacks and New Zealand First’s concern—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member must identify the source of the document and identify the document. It is not “with regard” to anything.
Brendan Horan: Thank you. I was getting there. This photograph was taken by concerned KiwiRail workers who are concerned about the safety issues arising from maintenance cutbacks in the Government’s KiwiRail Turnaround Plan.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that photograph, taken by KiwiRail workers. Is there any objection? There is objection. [Interruption] Order! I must be able to hear members.
Clare Curran: Has KiwiRail already paid, using Kiwi taxpayers’ money, for the second batch of Chinese locomotives, which have been put on hold due to serious systemic failures with the first batch, which cost the country $75 million?
Hon TONY RYALL: I do not have that information with me, but if the member was to set down a question I would get that information to her.