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Nats don’t believe in Kiwis

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, May 14th, 2010 - 43 comments
Categories: Economy, employment - Tags: , ,

National and Kiwirail CEO, Jim Quinn, have displayed a pitiful lack of belief in the ability of New Zealand and the kind of knuckle-dragging narrow-mindedness that has been holding this country back ever since the neoliberal revolution.

Quinn told Kiwirail workers yesterday that the company won’t even be tendering for the contract to build the new railcars it is purchasing for Auckland. That means the job will definitely go overseas.

I can see the logic if it was decided that the costs and benefits of a Kiwirail bid didn’t stack up, but to not even bid, that is shameful.

If he had wanted to, if he had believed in New Zealanders, Steven Joyce could have put the word on the board of his expectations. Or he could have made new rules for Kiwirail so that when making purchasing decisions it must consider the whole of government, of whole of country costs and benefits; not just just what is best for its balance sheet as a sub-unit of the government but what is best for New Zealand.

It is simply illogical for government bodies to only consider what is best for them as if they are private, independent companies. You don’t let your hand do whatever it wants without thinking of the consequences for the rest of you. You wouldn’t expect a subsidary of a major company – say Fonterra – to act without considering the costs and benefits to the wider group. So why the hell should a government body be allowed to send work overseas when it is clearly in the fiscal interest of the government as a whole and the econoic interest of the country to keep the work here?

This isn’t just about national spirit and a belief in New Zealand. It’s about acting smarter and making the right choices for the economy. Joyce and National have proven that they neither believe in New Zealand nor have the brains to recognise the smart moves for the country.

43 comments on “Nats don’t believe in Kiwis”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    They should make it clear the tender would be as subcontractor for the designers of the rail vehicles.
    And it would mainly be ‘assembly’ work.
    But that works well for DesignLine, a kiwi based company who builds buses of their own design internationally ( with some overseas assembly as well).

  2. vto 2

    Not very aspirational is it..

    I think they have missed an opportunity to both achieve something and be seen to be working with NZ workers to achieve something. Very good politically I would have thought.

    Many people love trains – they are big and romantic. It would clearly have given many people something to be proud of.

    Aspirational, Key, aspirational. I mean, what the fuck, you go on about achieving and aspriation and blah blah and when an opportunity is handed to you on a plate you do this…

    … maybe you should be dinner after all. not much use for anything else so off to the knackers yard.

  3. Armchair Critic 3

    If he had wanted to, if he had believed in New Zealanders, Steven Joyce could have put the word on the board of his expectations
    It seems to me that he probably did, and (I’ll speculate a bit about what happened) when he was informed by that notorious pinko leftie who was chairman of the Kiwirail board that Kiwirail could build the trains, SJ knew he had to relieve Jim Bolger from his responsibilities.
    I knew as soon as I read this article a couple of months ago that something was up.

  4. I can understand how Kiwirail would take a blinkered short term view of the matter and only concentrate on the immediate financial implications of the decision to the entity itself.

    I cannot understand how Joyce and the Government can take the same view however. They ought to be thinking about the total benefit to the country. It is clear that this sort of thinking is beyond them.

  5. Hamish 5

    “I’ve outlined the reasons why building the EMUs (Electric Multiple Unit) in New Zealand would be a challenge we couldn’t meet. Firstly and most important, we simply could not build them here in time for Auckland’s requirement. We lack the scale.

    “Secondly, we will not be cost competitive in the build process and while $500 million sounds a lot, it is a limited amount of money for this order.

    “Thirdly, we have never built EMUs before and that fact represents significant risk in the build project. It is a cost risk that KiwiRail would struggle to take given the priorities we already have in re-building the rail system.”

    Laughable to see some here still think they know more than KiwiRail itself, their experts, engineers, design teams, etc. Laughable and sad. Armchair experts, huh. If you know better than KiwiRail why don’t you go have a talk to them and tell them there are doing it all wrong?

    Good to see KiwiRail is putting it’s money into areas that will make money, not some pot-shot crack at building something never done here before.

    When the report on this first came out, I said it would be given the consideration it deserves.

    And it was given just that. Good work KiwiRail!

    • Armchair Critic 5.1

      Hamish celebrates the “can’t do” attitude.
      Is this what the government means by aspirational for NZ?

    • insider 5.2

      No no Hamish, you don’t understand. This is about religion – you have to believe you can do it and have faith and all will be well.

      • IrishBill 5.2.1

        No it’s about the analysis done by the people on the shop floor (you know the ones who do this for a living every. single. day.) and BERL.

        But of course a provincial one-shot businessman like Joyce would know better.

  6. sweetd 6

    “I can see the logic if it was decided that the costs and benefits of a Kiwirail bid didn’t stack up”

    End of story then.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Joyce and National have proven that they neither believe in New Zealand nor have the brains to recognise the smart moves for the country.

    Sending the work overseas shows their irrationality. They’re not making decisions on a rationalised process but through pure, delusional, ideology.

    • insider 7.1

      ANd you’re making demands based on ideology that “Kiwis can”. Well yes, but more slowly, more expensively, and more riskily than others. If it were your money and you were say, building a house, would you prefer the guy who builds houses for a living but is based in Rotorua or the guy who installs conservatories on the side and lives down the road? What if the concervatory guy charges 50% more and takes twice as long?”

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        Um, the people at the railways know how to build trains and can do it just as well as the other people. On top of that even if it did cost slightly more the country gets more benefit per dollar than building them elsewhere.

  8. joe bloggs 8

    Sending the work overseas shows their irrationality. They’re not making decisions on a rationalised process but through pure, delusional, ideology.

    So you would have NZRail tied up for months spending millions on writing a submission when they already acknowledge that they cannot satisfy the requirements of the job????

    NZRail lacks scale, they’re not competitive, they can’t meet the timeframe and they don’t have experience in this work.

    Seems to me that this decision is realistic, rational and pragmatic whereas the desire to build here in NZ is where the pure delusional ideology exists.

    And the irony of your delusion is that, were the National government to award the Dunedin workshops with the work, you’d be baying for blood for a massive overspend on rolling stock when better value alternatives are available.

    • Kevin Welsh 8.1

      Speaking of ‘delusions’, NZ Rail hasn’t been in existence since 1993.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      NZRail lacks scale, they’re not competitive, they can’t meet the timeframe and they don’t have experience in this work.

      Considering that they’ve had a look and said that they can do it then I’d say that you’re talking out your arse.

  9. Hamish 9

    >>>Hamish celebrates the “can’t do’ attitude.

    Of course we can do it; but at what cost. Sadly, we can’t do it on time. Sadly, we can’t do it for a competitive price. Sadly, we cannot do it without KiwiRail taking on an incredible risk, a risk so big that if the project was to have a problem, (keeping in mind we’ve never built an EMU train before), KiwiRail would require a bailout.

    >>>”I can see the logic if it was decided that the costs and benefits of a Kiwirail bid didn’t stack up’

    They don’t need to. This is simply a SOE purchasing some new rolling stock. Sadly, Labour and the Greens turned it into a football. Even when some facts come out that are in favor of KiwiRail NOT bidding, they still think they know better then KiwiRail’s experts, engineers, designers etc etc.

    Will the looney tunes come out and say “We are wrong” ? Or are they just a little bit busy yelling abuse outside a tennis match ?

    edit–just read your post “joe bloggs”, thumbs up here :)

    >>>And the irony of your delusion is that, were the National government to award the Dunedin workshops with the work, you’d be baying for blood for a massive overspend on rolling stock when better value alternatives are available.

    They would not care. So blind..

  10. prism 10

    Politicians should stop thinking of the country as a business. It needs to be run efficiently but going for the cheapest tender is not the way to go. There are more considerations to make than just considering the returns expected by a discrete group of shareholders as in business. Perhaps there can be a sort of metal portal like a security screen that pollies have to go through to check whether the thinking part of the brain is big enough to handle the job.

    There’s no future for us as a modern, diversified country if pollies and their advisors, or those they listen to, just get injected with education about current practices that are most fashionable and then don’t do any more cogitating. We’re too small to do things for ourselves! How pathetic. Sounds like the learned helplessness that the right wing like to preach is the prime problem of government beneficiaries.

    Looking overseas for goods and expertise, while themselves living off the country, has been the same theme with pollies since ACT first injected us with their virus like biting mosquitoes carrying diseases. They were busy ordering grandly from overseas then, at the same time they were encouraging the demise of NZ business on the basis it was too small, inefficient, too costly etc.
    I think they said that it would free up capital for more efficient businesses. Perhaps they were affected by Richard Prebble having grown mushrooms once. They thought perhaps that businesses sprout up like mushrooms, or perhaps are even found under cabbage bushes.

  11. What’s wrong with diesel/electric? By some more secondhand Aussie engines, convert them here. Run the trains and buses on biodiesel and leave the coal in the ground.
    Labour should say now that it will cancel any contract the banksters sign for Auckland and give the new Auckland council the power to run the suburban rail.

  12. Hamish 12

    >>>What’s wrong with diesel/electric? By some more secondhand Aussie engines, convert them here. Run the trains and buses on biodiesel and leave the coal in the ground.

    Very expensive to run, slow take off times. An electric fleet will take off much faster, no where near as loud, no nasty diesel fumes for passengers etc.

    As I understand it, some of the diesel units (from Aussie) will serve areas where the electric wires will not reach.

    As for using bio diesel, you still have the problems above, so your not really gaining anything. Back in 2007 Toll Rail did a test of 5% bio diesel in a locomotive, never heard anything more about it, though.

    • insider 12.1

      Re biodiesel – there’s not enough of it, quality is a problem and it is too expensive. Apart from that it’s great

      • IrishBill 12.1.1

        Actually quality isn’t a big issue for big engines and it’s cheaper than fossil but hard to supply in large quantities. Although that’s unlikely to be an issue for long (and considering we’re running diesel units that are 40 years old a short (most likely half decade) fossil/bio transition period is negligible).

  13. Fisiani 13

    Well worth repeating.
    Why can’t the left ever learn business sense. Cos they are wealth spreaders not creators.

    “I’ve outlined the reasons why building the EMUs (Electric Multiple Unit) in New Zealand would be a challenge we couldn’t meet. Firstly and most important, we simply could not build them here in time for Auckland’s requirement. We lack the scale.

    “Secondly, we will not be cost competitive in the build process and while $500 million sounds a lot, it is a limited amount of money for this order.

    “Thirdly, we have never built EMUs before and that fact represents significant risk in the build project. It is a cost risk that KiwiRail would struggle to take given the priorities we already have in re-building the rail system.’

  14. Hamish 14

    Don’t go posting those facts there. The unions and select people know better than KiwiRail’s experts, designers, engineers do, of course. Socialists, huh, they always know best. No matter what.

    • Armchair Critic 14.1

      Where are the facts? Fisi merely quoted the CEO of Kiwirail, who was expressing his opinion as CEO. The only fact is that this is his opinion. So far the best reason I have heard to support building the EMUs overseas is that the CEO of Kiwirail says “we won’t build them”. Which is pretty weak and made worse by its ad-nauseum repetition by people like you.
      It would be great to see Jim Quinn be a bit more open and tell us the fourth reason he won’t let Kiwirail put a bid in – which is that Steve Joyce told him not to.

    • Bright Red 14.2

      BERL’s report is based on the engineers’ assessments and BERL is hardly socialist.

      • insider 14.2.1

        BERL will say what you want them to say like any good consultant or lawyer

        • Draco T Bastard 14.2.1.1

          Jesus, what a load of codswallop. Consultants are there to tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. If that’s all they did then they would go out of business very fast.

  15. joe bloggs 15

    sad to say, team – this is a pragmatism-free zone, check your facts at the door – idealogues only!

    • lprent 15.1

      Not exactly. There are few absolute ‘facts’ anywhere because almost everything has exceptions and viewpoints. You cannot simply assert a ‘fact’ and not have it challenged (in other words have your links ready). You can then expect to have your facts examined and frequently your interpretation or the source is rubbished.

      In other words, it is a credulous fool free zone. Wingnuts frequently have problems with that because they tend to be ‘religious’ about frequently repeated doctrines that they read in the sewer and other similar dives.

      I’d add that moonbats also have that problem

  16. Hamish 16

    >>> Armchair Critic [lots of dribble]

    KiwiRail do not have the capacity to make the EMU units; fact. KiwiRail cannot make the time frame; fact. KiwiRail has never build them before; fact. KiwiRail simply cannot handle the large risk, thus: If something went wrong; KiwiRail would need a bail out.

    I’ve read a certain document and I can tell you that the report was based on measurements, requirements etc that are far from what KiwiRail need. Simple things like length of the EMU units, for example.

    If we could build them here, both our government and KiwiRail would JUMP at the chance. But sadly we cannot meet the requirements that the contract will ask for. Hence, KiwiRail won’t even waste the dollars to put a bid in themselves. Say’s it all, really.

    • MikeG 16.1

      I guess that sort of thinking is why the right wing party in the UK is called the Conservatives. Let’s take a bit of a risk and create some real NZ jobs. Why is the BERL report being dismissed by the right? Are the numbers just a little inconvenient for their idealogy?

      • Hamish 16.1.1

        >>>Why is the BERL report being dismissed by the right? Are the numbers just a little inconvenient for their idealogy?

        Na, just the fact the report is based on false assumptions that are not remotely close to what we will require.

        But don’t let that get in the way, do carry on…

        • Bright Red 16.1.1.1

          Come on Hamish, tell us which of BERL’s assumptions are false.

          • Hamish 16.1.1.1.1

            >>>Come on Hamish, tell us which of BERL’s assumptions are false.

            Sure:

            1) Motive Power
            2) Brake System
            3) Car Length
            4) Setup costs
            5) Time to delivery of units

            There are also some more problems…

            Happy now ?

            • RedLogix 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Hamish,

              BERL are bullshitting. As I stated a week ago, I’ve had a first hand conversation with a senior engineering person at the Woburn workshops. I’m not going to identify him because it was a private conversation, but I assure you if anyone would know the answer to this question he would.

              The answer is that these EMU’s are relatively simple to build, the under-chassis and bogies are simple engineering, the bodies the sort of thing that have been refurbished in NZ before and are not a lot different to buses. 85% of the value could be easily done here in NZ.

              The only items that would need to be imported would be the electric traction motors, their associated controls and …oddly enough… the actual wheels which are a specialised casting they usually get done in Australia.

            • Draco T Bastard 16.1.1.1.1.2

              Now prove your assertions.

    • Armchair Critic 16.2

      KiwiRail do not have the capacity to make the EMU units; fact. KiwiRail cannot make the time frame; fact. KiwiRail has never build them before; fact. KiwiRail simply cannot handle the large risk, thus: If something went wrong; KiwiRail would need a bail out.

      None of those are facts. The facts are that Jim Quinn said:
      “Firstly and most important, we simply could not build them here in time for Auckland’s requirement. We lack the scale.
      Secondly, we will not be cost competitive in the build process and while $500 million sounds a lot, it is a limited amount of money for this order.
      Thirdly, we have never built EMUs before and that fact represents significant risk in the build project.”
      Facts are that the BERL report does not concur.
      The report proposes that the timeframe can be met (section 5, first and second paragraphs on page 5). It proposes that Kiwirail would need to increase its capacity to build the EMUs on time (section 3.2.1). Given that unemployment has soared while National have been in government, Kiwirail should find it easier to find new staff.
      The report states that the costs per unit are “in line with international trends” (section 3.1 bullet point 1). It further notes that the comparison being made is of capital costs only and does not include life cycle analysis (section 3.1 penultimate and final paragraphs). It also notes that the comaprison is based on current exchange rates, which favour overseas manufacture (section 3.1, bullet point 3).
      The report is on economics and does not address risk in a substantial way. However, if the CEOs of any company I am directly involved with cast as much doubt as Jim Quinn has on the ability of him and his senior management team to manage risk I would be asking them some pretty probing questions. Really, he has dropped a big hint that they are incapable of proper risk management. Which leaves some basic questions to be answered, like:
      – what are Kiwirail’s risk management capabilities?
      – what risk management capabilities should Kiwirail have?
      – how will Kiwirail develop their risk management to the requisite level?
      Fact is that not casting doubt about your own abilities is one of the fundamentals of being a CEO.
      Facts are that Jim Quinn has only been in the job for a year, according to his bio on the Kiwirail website, and that he has no previous experience with heavy engineering or manufacturing. Which makes his advice on Kiwirail’s heavy engineering capabilities less reliable than other aspects of the business where he has more experience.
      Fact is that his appointment as CEO was a surprise.
      Finally, for your first paragraph at least, fact is that if something went wrong with an overseas supplier there is a reasonable chance that Auckland would end up with money spent and no EMUs.
      Fact is you are weighing four sentences against a 30 page report.

      I’ve read a certain document and I can tell you that the report was based on measurements, requirements etc that are far from what KiwiRail need. Simple things like length of the EMU units, for example.

      So provide a link so any commenters here can assess the validity of your certain document. Otherwise I call BS. Update – it appears that Draco TB (at 7.44pm) may be calling you for BS, too.

      If we could build them here, both our government and KiwiRail would JUMP at the chance.

      You are assuming that because the government are not jumping, therefore the EMU’s can’t be built here. Doesn’t stack up for me, I don’t accept either premise.

      But sadly we cannot meet the requirements that the contract will ask for.

      So write a different contract. It’s still fair if all the tenderers are subject to the same condition.

      Hence, KiwiRail won’t even waste the dollars to put a bid in themselves.
      Say’s it all, really.

      Finally something we agree on, even if it is for totally different reasons.

      Armchair Critic [lots of dribble]

      Try seeing a doctor for your ptyalism, it could be a symptom of rabies.

  17. tc 17

    Jim Quinn’s not really to blame, he’s just another compliant soul plucked from another SOE to do what he’s told……the nat’s are so much better at doing this as they have the connections to the right type of individual to blame share along with them.

    Reward your mates…nudge nudge wink wink. Joyce is one of their best…..scary indeed.

  18. Hamish Gray 18

    [lprent: All good points – however… Have you read Lange vs Atkinson yet? Otherwise you’re still on commenting leave until the 20th. ]

  19. Puddleglum 19

    Hamish, Joe Bloggs, et al.. I think what you haven’t picked up from the post or other comments is that, ultimately, it’s not the business case for KiwiRail that is the issue. This may or may not be in favour of building the units. The CEO obviously thinks it’s not on his ‘cost-benefit’ calculation. That, however, doesn’t make it wrong or stupid or economically negligent to build the units using KiwiRail (and others). Other benefits, beyond KiwiRail, accrue – as may other costs.

    This, like so many decisions by government, is not a technical matter – it is a matter of values. Your values appear to be narrowly financial. That’s fine, but recognise that they ARE values, and you’re putting them ahead of other values – e.g., values associated with the maintenance of people, families, communities, etc.. Having those latter values as a priority may mean that financial values have to be partly sacrificed. This is the heart of my concerns about today’s world: it’s organised primarily to increase profit, private wealth and economic power. It is not organised to ensure that people, families, etc. can flourish, be stable and provide the kind of environment that works for individual people.

    anti-spam word: budgets – the invasion of financialese is everywhere!

  20. ak 20

    Goodness me. Just looking at the heavy input from “fisiani” and “Hamish”, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that the tory polls indicate that this is a winner issue for the left. Stands to reason too: BERL aint no pinkoes, not by a long shot. Get into it brothers and sisters, I smell blood.

  21. Sam 21

    Sign the petition if you like, or even better download the paper one and get your workmates and friends to fill it in : http://rmtunion.org.nz/articles/article-building-rolling-stock-in-nz.php

  22. motorways madness and neoliberalism 22

    I always wondered why Bolger was replaced as chair of Kiwirail.

    http://www.nztransport-logistics.co.nz/home/free-articles/nz-rail-new-chairman-has-right-stuff-to-steer-kiwirail.html ‘John Spence is currently deputy chair of state coal miner Solid Energy..

    Clues to Spencer’s ongoing role will come when Transport Minister Steven Joyce addresses the NZ Rail 2010 conference on April 21, setting out the Govt’s priorities for rail and possibly hinting at the amount of capital the Govt is prepared to stump up.’

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