Transport Minister Steven Joyce told Q&A that if the decision to buy KiwiRail had been his he would never have bought it.
It was one of the more costly legacies of the previous adminsitration:
KiwiRail is projecting a deficit of almost 50 million dollars next year, rising to more than 300 million in 2012.
“It’s cost New Zealand around $900 million already in terms of the purchase price, plus the loans we took over when we purchased it back. It has very high fixed costs,” says Joyce.
It’s not difficult to think of many other areas where that $900 million could have done something good; and the opportunity cost of $50 million next year rising to more than $300 million in 2012 which is being wasted on the railways is eye watering.
Joyce said the government isn’t prepared to keep paying for KiwiRail and is trying to get it to a form where it can be self-sustaining.
“(So) it can at least, to use the term, wash its own face. And that is going to be a challenge, don’t underestimate the size of that challenge,” he says.
“We can’t just keep tipping tax payers money in the back of it.”
Phil Goff didn’t say sorry for this profligate expensditure of taxpayers’ money when he was doing his mea culpa. Does that mean Labour still thinks it was a good idea?