Labour-Greens united on rail

'Wrong government in place' to make rail a reality: Labour and Greens.

'Wrong government in place' to make rail a reality: Labour and Greens.

THE Labour and Green parties last night committed to re-opening the entire length of the Gisborne to Napier rail line but pointed out that would only happen if the National Party was removed from office.

Making a joint policy announcement in Gisborne, Green Party transport and finance spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter and Labour’s transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney agreed it made economic sense to reopen the line, saying KiwiRail’s own assessment suggested the line would be profitable within just seven years.

Speaking to a crowd of about 40 people, including Mayor Meng Foon, mayoral challenger Tony Robinson and several candidates for October’s local elections, Ms Genter said the Government’s current methods of evaluating transport projects resulted in “incredibly bizarre” outcomes, all weighted in favour of road transport.

The Green Party’s “Safer, cleaner freight” policy intended to create an integrated system that would move more freight by sea and rail, by reforming the “somewhat arbitrary” way the $3 billion National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) was allocated, so it would also be available for rail and sea freight projects.

The Green Party would reduce the amount of freight on the road from 70 to 50 percent while the remaining 50 percent would be split between rail and sea by 2027.

“The benefits are enormous,” said Ms Genter.

“Avoiding one million truck trips on our roads will help reduce maintenance costs, help reduce safety risks and have enormous health benefits.

“The current National Government, for some reason, refuses to see the logic in funding all transport projects on where they are going to have the greatest benefit from the NLTF.”

She pointed out that losing the Gisborne-Napier rail line had been “totally unnecessary”. In the context of a $3 billion transport budget, $4 million to reopen the line was “chickenfeed”.

“It would certainly be great for Gisborne not to have to deal with the increase in logging trucks and the trucks you have coming through your city centre.”

If the Green Party was in power the line would almost certainly be reopened, she said.

“The line is of immense strategic value to this region and it needs to be reopened.”

If the line was fixed and the NLTF was opened to contestable projects, it could raise the possibility of reintroducing passenger train trips between Gisborne and Napier.

Ms Moroney added that a policy was needed that ensured rail, road and sea were all used when fit-for-purpose and reinstating the Gisborne line was a “no-brainer”.

“NZ is pretty damn perfect for rail, yet other countries use rail to much better effect than we do. We move a lot of big stuff, often.”

However, the National Government was “ideologically opposed” to rail and their “complete and utter bias” towards road haulage in particular defied facts, information and practicalities.

She encouraged Gisborne’s vociferous rail lobby to “keep fighting” for rail.

“I just want to congratulate you on a fantastic campaign that is run here from Gisborne and Napier about getting that important railway re-established again. Keep fighting that fight, I know sometimes it seems like no one is listening but it is clear what the problem is — you simply have the wrong government in place to make it a reality.

“It’s going to feel like banging your head against a brick wall but it’s incredibly important that people don’t lose sight.”

Ms Moroney said it was not an issue that should be left to local government; it was a central government issue.

Labour’s last election manifesto had included the reinstatement of the line, and there was no reason why that would change.

THE Labour and Green parties last night committed to re-opening the entire length of the Gisborne to Napier rail line but pointed out that would only happen if the National Party was removed from office.

Making a joint policy announcement in Gisborne, Green Party transport and finance spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter and Labour’s transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney agreed it made economic sense to reopen the line, saying KiwiRail’s own assessment suggested the line would be profitable within just seven years.

Speaking to a crowd of about 40 people, including Mayor Meng Foon, mayoral challenger Tony Robinson and several candidates for October’s local elections, Ms Genter said the Government’s current methods of evaluating transport projects resulted in “incredibly bizarre” outcomes, all weighted in favour of road transport.

The Green Party’s “Safer, cleaner freight” policy intended to create an integrated system that would move more freight by sea and rail, by reforming the “somewhat arbitrary” way the $3 billion National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) was allocated, so it would also be available for rail and sea freight projects.

The Green Party would reduce the amount of freight on the road from 70 to 50 percent while the remaining 50 percent would be split between rail and sea by 2027.

“The benefits are enormous,” said Ms Genter.

“Avoiding one million truck trips on our roads will help reduce maintenance costs, help reduce safety risks and have enormous health benefits.

“The current National Government, for some reason, refuses to see the logic in funding all transport projects on where they are going to have the greatest benefit from the NLTF.”

She pointed out that losing the Gisborne-Napier rail line had been “totally unnecessary”. In the context of a $3 billion transport budget, $4 million to reopen the line was “chickenfeed”.

“It would certainly be great for Gisborne not to have to deal with the increase in logging trucks and the trucks you have coming through your city centre.”

If the Green Party was in power the line would almost certainly be reopened, she said.

“The line is of immense strategic value to this region and it needs to be reopened.”

If the line was fixed and the NLTF was opened to contestable projects, it could raise the possibility of reintroducing passenger train trips between Gisborne and Napier.

Ms Moroney added that a policy was needed that ensured rail, road and sea were all used when fit-for-purpose and reinstating the Gisborne line was a “no-brainer”.

“NZ is pretty damn perfect for rail, yet other countries use rail to much better effect than we do. We move a lot of big stuff, often.”

However, the National Government was “ideologically opposed” to rail and their “complete and utter bias” towards road haulage in particular defied facts, information and practicalities.

She encouraged Gisborne’s vociferous rail lobby to “keep fighting” for rail.

“I just want to congratulate you on a fantastic campaign that is run here from Gisborne and Napier about getting that important railway re-established again. Keep fighting that fight, I know sometimes it seems like no one is listening but it is clear what the problem is — you simply have the wrong government in place to make it a reality.

“It’s going to feel like banging your head against a brick wall but it’s incredibly important that people don’t lose sight.”

Ms Moroney said it was not an issue that should be left to local government; it was a central government issue.

Labour’s last election manifesto had included the reinstatement of the line, and there was no reason why that would change.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

J M Anderson - 3 years ago
That is great news for Gisborne and of course Ms Moroney is right - this is a government responsibility not a local one. Also great that all our mayoral candidates support the case for rail and most council candidates as well, as long as it doesn't affect our rates.

Peter Jones - 3 years ago
Great to see Labour being pro-active in our region. I'm looking forward to hearing the thoughts of the Labour environment spokesperson.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Should the Gisborne District Council consider easing restrictions around freedom camping?​