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So much for ‘ambitious for New Zealand’

Written By: - Date published: 12:35 pm, May 3rd, 2010 - 153 comments
Categories: Economy, jobs, national, public transport, same old national, Unions - Tags: , , ,

A new report says that building the half a billion worth of new trains for Auckland in New Zealand would boost GDP by $250 million, improve our current account deficit by over $100 million, add $70 million to government revenue, and create 1200 skilled jobs. The Rail and Maritime Workers Union says its members have the capacity and experience to do the work in Dunedin and Lower Hutt. But the Government has put the kibosh on the idea. They just want the cheapest price for the rail cars, and that means going overseas.

Going for the cheapest tender might make sense if the bidders are all in New Zealand or the tender is a private company. But this is a government that is supposedly committed to growing the economy. It should be willing to put its money where it’s mouth is and support New Zealand industry. Steven Joyce says it doesn’t make ‘commercial’ sense for Kiwirail to buy the trains in New Zealand where they will be more expensive, but that’s not the point. He should be looking at what makes economic sense: not what’s best for Kiwirail’s bottom line but what’s best for the country.

Joyce

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his contempt for this country and his inability to see beyond simple commercial decision-making to a larger economic vision when he says “New Zealand isn’t very good at heavy industry”. He may as well have said ‘Kiwis can’t do this’.

The fact is, we used to be good at heavy industry until men like Joyce decided it would be cheaper to get others to do the work and New Zealand would just borrow from overseas to buy manufactured goods from abroad. The capacity is still there for New Zealand to do this work. We’re still building and refurbishing rail cars in this country, but not for long if the Government maintains its penny wise, pound foolish attitude.

Sure, it will be a bit more expensive to the government’s company but the gains for the economy that this government is meant to be rebuilding would be enormous.

On a deeper level, this illustrates the flaws in the commercial model of state asset ownership. By only looking at the cost to Kiwirail and ignoring the wider benefits, the Government is actually creating wider costs for itself – lost taxes and higher benefit payments for starters.

The same goes for the Government’s attacks on Kiwirail in general as an unprofitable ‘worthless’ asset. That’s only true if you look at Kiwirail as a company in isolation and ignore the tremendous benefits the wider economy gains from having a rail network. We don’t value the State highway network on the basis of how much it would bring in if it were sold but on the value it creates to the economy, and the same approach should be used for all pieces of critical national infrastructure.

If we had a government with some vision and some economic prowess, then backing Kiwirail to build their new stock in New Zealand would be a no-brainer. But this is a government of small time businessmen, not economic leaders. They don’t understand how to manage an economy and promote New Zealand industry. They can only look for the cheapest deal in each individual transaction, a small-minded approach that leaves us all worse off in the end.

153 comments on “So much for ‘ambitious for New Zealand’”

  1. As oil runs out the provision of electric trains will become more and more important and I anticipate the rail system becoming larger and larger. It will be powered by wind or sun but it represents possibly the only way to keep our cities running.

    Local expertise is vital and the Government should be bending over backwards to develop this.

    They seem to be fixated on the dollars without any understanding of the overall benefits to the country.

    I bet the jobs summit would have gone for it.

  2. Terry B 2

    Spot on. Oh for a political class that actually believes in New Zealand.

    Maybe Mr Joyce would like to ponder Recommendation 64 from the Australia’s future tax system

    “On routes where road freight is in direct competition with rail that
    is required to recover its capital costs, heavy vehicles should face an additional charge on a
    comparable basis, where this improves the efficient allocation of freight between transport
    modes.”

    • Clarke 2.1

      The National Party was paid $55,000 in donations by the Road Transport Forum (read: the truckies) at the last election to make sure they thought nothing of the kind. So far it seems to be working pretty well from the truckies perspective.

  3. Hamish 3

    While it would be great for Hill Side and or Hutt to build the new EMU car’s, I think Kiwi Rail has to go for who can meet the requirements of what we need, for the best possible price. Fact is, while we rebuild British Rail Mark 2 Rail car’s into brand new car’s that look amazing and are great quality, we’ve never built an EMU, let alone the amount that Kiwi Rail need for the Auckland Network. I’m not sure that Hill Side can compete with overseas business that build thousand’s of EMU’s per year.

    At the end of the day, Hill Side will put together an offer, and if it is good value for money, it will win. I’d hope they get it, but I don’t think they will.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      “At the end of the day, Hill Side will put together an offer, and if it is good value for money, it will win. I’d hope they get it, but I don’t think they will.”

      Man, it’s like you read the post and don’t understand a word. Looking at the issue in those narrow commercial terms is stupid.

      The government should at least consider the value of tenders from a whole of government perspective – how much extra tax revenue does the govt gain if the manufacturing happens in NZ? What is the economic multiplier, the reduced welfare costs etc etc? It will be worth paying more for the trains to get all those other benefits that are lsot if the work is done overseas.

      This is government decision, it should be made on the basis of what delivers the most value to NZ (or at least the government) not just where they can buy the trains the cheapest.

    • Clarke 3.2

      You may be right, but surely there’s scope for licensing the designs from overseas manufacturers. Given our specific requirements and rail gauge, it’s not like the manufacturers have the rolling stock sitting around in the train yard – so if they have to be built to order, surely we could do that here once the design work had been done overseas.

      And bear in mind the Ganz units in Wellington will need replacing sometime in the next few years …

      • Hayden 3.2.1

        Don’t get out much do you Clarke?

        http://www.gw.govt.nz/matangi/

        Of course, this is quite aside from the fact that there will; be fewer Matangis to replace the Ganzs – most of which have been effectively scrapped in anticipation of the new Matangis.

        I heard a rumour that “Nice work Joyce!” has been busy scrapping the old trains before there are even enough Matangi’s to replace all the Ganzs.

        • Clarke 3.2.1.1

          Nah, hardly get out at all! :-)

          The problem with the Ganz units is that they badly need refurbishing, but the cost is getting as expensive as buying new Matangi’s – which are a far better unit. In my view the Regional Council should add a few more Matangi to the current production line and retire the Ganz.

  4. Fisiani 4

    In other words
    Borrow loads more money from overseas and take a punt on designing and building something never ever done before in NZ. Worsen the economy by doing so and put at risk thousands of jobs. Or buy them in cheap as a job lot from overseas.
    Listen to the link re Joyce and hear his REALISM and PRAGMATISM. Explains why National is consistently sitting North of 50%!
    The Brits and French tried this decades ago with a monstrously expensive yet beautiful plane called Concorde. Nuff said.

    • lprent 4.1

      You’re pretty young aren’t you (I’ll leave the implied bit unsaid)

      The railway workshops used to be capable of doing all of this work. There are heavy engineering skills in NZ to draw on. We’re not looking at being at the cutting edge. It isn’t that hard….

      • Peter Wilson 4.1.1

        Once upon a time our railway workshops *were* cutting edge, right up until the end of steam locomotive design and manufacturing in the 1950s. Railway companies from all over the world used to send engineers to Hutt, Addington (now closed), and Hillside to learn. Many developments (eg the Pacific class locomotive) became universally adopted across the railway world.

        However, we made the political decisions to run that skill base down, and that seems set to continue, despite the hard-working and well-meaning folks here in Dunedin.

        • Swampy 4.1.1.1

          Never heard that claim before “that railway companies worldwide sent engineers to NZ to learn”. Steam locomotive technology is not cutting edge and in NZ was not exactly revolutionary.

      • Swampy 4.1.2

        The railway workshops used to do what, exactly? We never had an electric locomotive manufacturing industry in NZ, they were all designed overseas and about 8 assembled in NZ about 70 years ago.

    • Clarke 4.2

      That’s such a collection of nonsense it’s difficult to know where to begin.

      1. “Borrow lots of money from overseas” – actually, the New Zealand government doesn’t borrow any money from overseas, and hasn’t since the time of Muldoon.
      2. “Something never ever done before in NZ” – the railway workshops in Wellington and Dunedin have been building rolling stock of all kinds since before WWII, and have a long track record of skilled workmanship.
      3. “Buy them in as a cheap job lot from overseas” – thanks to the specific narrow-gauge requirements of New Zealand, no manufacturers have appropriate rolling stock lying around in the yard; all of it is a custom build-to-order, which is one of the reasons it’s relatively expensive to buy new kit.
      4. “Listen to the link re Joyce and hear his REALISM and PRAGMATISM” – This is the same blithering idiot who is all set to build Transmission Gully at a net loss to taxpayers of $400 million plus cost over-runs, I presume?
      5. “Insert dumb-ass comparison to Concorde here” – That’s such a specious display of brainless idiocy that it doesn’t justify a response.

      • jcuknz 4.2.1

        While I think that the Kiwirailworkshops should do the work … it is plain commonsense to look after one’s own industries .. I wonder if the wonderful skill base is history due to the foolish [National I think, or was it Labour? I’ve lost track] largely killing off the apprentice system from what I see of all the ‘ex Hillside’ workers who had to move into other industries. Yes NZR did build great locos but really can they do it now. Mind you if they can refurbish rolling stock I’m sure the skills are there to buy overseas motive power to power chassis built here. It would be wonderful to have the skill base at Hillside with all the supporting industry around it. Dunedin would be less an old peoples home but a thriving city. I’m sure the same applies to Hutt and a reborn Addington to a lesser degree. With maybe exports to South Africa and other countries with our gauge..

    • Bright Red 4.3

      Fisiani. The Brits and French weren’t trying to decide whether to build concorde in their own countries or get it done overseas. It’s nothing like this situation.

      The question is which makes more economic sense for New Zealand as a whole, rather than just Kiwirail? It’s pretty clear that even if the trains cost a little more the government will more than make up for it in tax revenue and reduced welfare payments. Let alone the wider economic benefits.

      You righties really don’t understand economics do you? I mean, you can understand a small business’s balance sheet, but a whole economy is a bit beyond you, eh?

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1

        You righties really don’t understand economics do you? I mean, you can understand a small business’s balance sheet, but a whole economy is a bit beyond you, eh?

        That’s about it. They expect an entire national economy to operate just like a small businesses finances.

        • Clarke 4.3.1.1

          I think that’s rather over-stating their abilities. Practically every Rightie I’ve ever met tries to equate fiscal and monetary policy with running a household budget – up to and including Bill English. And given that households can’t create their own currencies, theirs is not an analogy that sheds much light on the subject.

          • Jim Nald 4.3.1.1.1

            That is correct. And re debt: households take them on, eg mortgage, and work towards paying them off. A country taking on debt is not in itself an evil thing where there is a clear purpose for development, with specific timing to pay back and a clear economic PLAN.

            • Clarke 4.3.1.1.1.1

              And just to be clear on this … despite what the msm mindlessly repeats from neo-liberal economists, a government deficit is not a debt and it never needs to be repaid. Assuming that the NZ government continues to issue sovereign debt in our sovereign currency, then it is utterly impossible for it to ever default – a fact which seems completely beyond the comprehension of every Rightie trying to create an analogy between Greece and New Zealand.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1.1.2

            I was going to use “household” but a household economy is actually far more complex than a specialist small business. Of course, we don’t actually have household economies any more.

            http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2010/04/blindness-to-systems.html

            This is even before factoring in the financial elephant in the living room of the old one-income family: the economic benefits of the household economy. It’s only in the last half dozen decades that the home has become nothing more than a center of consumption; before then, it was a place where real wealth was produced.

  5. insider 5

    The MTA garage maintains my car and there’s heaps of mechanics and demand for cars in NZ. So why waste money buying them from the Japanese. Let’s use our assets to build a kiwi car.

    • Bright Red 5.1

      If the government owned facilities that were capable of building cars to the specs it needed would it make more sense for it to buy cars from abroad for slightly less, and give up all the tax revenue etc of building them here?

      Simple question insider. No complicated maths, just simple addition and subtraction should show you which is the better deal.

    • Clarke 5.2

      It’s a spurious argument. Cars are a mass-produced commodity that use the same infrastructure (roads) everywhere in the world, so you can take the next one off the production line in Japan and know that it will run in New Zealand. But trains are custom-built to run on the specific gauge of rail line in each country, which requires a fair bit of design modification for each unit and the destruction of many of the economies of scale.

      To use a much better analogy, if building custom-designed America’s Cup yachts in New Zealand makes economic sense, then so does assembling custom-designed rolling stock.

      • insider 5.2.1

        The economies of scale will still be there in terms of much of the basic train platform, componentry, design experience, tooled up factories and workforce. YOu are asking for a major tool up for very small run of vehicles with all the start up and wind down costs that would accompany that, as opposed to adapting existing plant and processes.

        There is no doubt we could do it. The doubt is over the sense of such a risky investment.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          YOu are asking for a major tool up for very small run of vehicles with all the start up and wind down costs that would accompany that, as opposed to adapting existing plant and processes.

          No, we’re not.

          The tools and skills already exist in NZ.

          The doubt is over the sense of such a risky investment.

          It’s not risky at all. NZ is the only customer for the gauge of rail that we run and the long term use of the rail will ensure that the workshops will be continuously used. No risk.

          • uke 5.2.1.1.1

            By controlling the process you build trains that last for decades of hard use. After they’re built, ongoing repairs become in-house.

            On the other hand, cars, as consumer commodities, usually have a high degree of built-in obsolescence and eventually have to be chucked.

            Modern cars, to boot, have complex engines that you can’t even repair for yourself (like grandad used to do).

            Oh progress.

          • insider 5.2.1.1.2

            I suspect we have the tools to maintain but do we have the metal fabricating and casting tools/machinery? How many trains are designed and built here? If the answer is none, then in what way do we have anything but generic design and engineering skills?

            NZ uses the Cape Gauge. According to wikipedia this gauge is used on 112,000 km (70,000 mi) worldwide [4].

            Rail transport in Southern and Central Africa
            Indonesia 5,961 km (3,704 mi)[5]
            Japan 20,182 km (12,541 mi)[6]
            Russia – Sakhalin Island presently being converted to 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+5⁄6 in) (Russian gauge)
            Taiwan 1,097 km (682 mi) (Taiwan Railway Administration)
            Philippines 900 km (560 mi)[citation needed]
            New Zealand 3,900 km (2,400 mi)
            Australia 15,160 km (9,420 mi)
            Queensland
            Tasmania
            Western Australia
            South Australia

            In case you hadn’t noticed we use a lot of second hand aussie engines

            • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1.2.1

              If the answer is none, then in what way do we have anything but generic design and engineering skills?

              And it needs to be other than that because….

              …Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t.

              Yes, I was wrong about the use of the gauge but that doesn’t detract from the very simple fact that producing our trains in NZ from NZ resources will be better for our society than sending the work over seas in jobs, improved learning, technology and boosting our manufacturing capability. It will likely end up cheaper in the long run and more sustainable – especially once oil prices start going up due to Peak Oil.

              • insider

                “And it needs to be other than that because .

                Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t.”

                You are right but then that increases hugely the level of risk. What if the designs are poor? what if they underestimate the cost and delivery schedule? By going to experts you reduce the investment risk (in theory, the Navy seems to disprove that time and again!)

                “producing our trains in NZ from NZ resources will be better for our society ”

                So this is about social engineering not just train? How many times has the govt got that wrong in the past and what was the bill?

              • Pascal's bookie

                “So this is about social engineering”

                Right wing shibboleth watch!

                if ‘social engineering’ means anything at all, it means things like using taxes and welfare settings to ‘incentivise’ behaviour, and restrictions on who can and can’t get married.

              • Draco T Bastard

                By going to experts you reduce the investment risk (in theory, the Navy seems to disprove that time and again!)

                I’m sure you’ll find that our engineers are experts. They’ll have a look at what has gone before, what worked and what didn’t and then apply their own ideas to that. Again, there is no risk. Why is there no risk? Because even if they do make a couple of mistakes here and there the community will, overall, be better off.

                So this is about social engineering not just train?

                It’s partially about having a viable community that’s capable of sustaining itself. Something that capitalism and shifting everything that we need done to over seas manufacture can’t do.

            • Peter Wilson 5.2.1.1.2.2

              Hillside and Hutt have extensive fabrication facilities. We can definitely build from scratch. I think Hillside have one of the most advanced metal foundries in the southern hemisphere.

          • jcuknz 5.2.1.1.3

            New Zealand is not the only country running on 1067mm gauge track. South Africa and I think Malaysia because we sold off our passenger cars there some years back didn’t we?

          • Swampy 5.2.1.1.4

            The tools and skills do not exist in NZ where there is no track record of experience in designing and building rolling stock of this nature, ever.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2.2

        The gauge doesnt matter so much. Its merely the distance between the wheels, which is easily changed. More important is the envelope the carriages fit in , important for tunnels as you dont want the carriage striking the wall under some circumstances.
        Of course this comes to the part NZ can do. Build the carriage only , on the overseas manufacturers ‘chassis’.

        Plus some trains in Australia , bought off the shelf , have had problems since the specific design didnt suit Australian conditions

  6. Hamish 6

    >>> Man, it’s like you read the post and don’t understand a word. Looking at the issue in those narrow commercial terms is stupid.

    No, it is not. You people want us to build the EMU’s. Fine, let’s get Hill Side to do it. Just promise me that when we only get 20 not the required 120 (due to cost of building in NZ) you’ll zip up and be happy ?

    >>>how much extra tax revenue does the govt gain if the manufacturing happens in NZ?

    So you propose we pay more just to get some of the money “back” in tax revenue. With thinking like that you could lead the Labour Party…

    >>>Given our specific requirements and rail gauge, it’s not like the manufacturers have the rolling stock sitting around in the train yard

    Where do most of our DMU unit’s come from ? Where do the Ganz unit’s come from ? Where do the SA/SD set’s come from ? Nice “own goal” there…

    >>> The railway workshops used to be capable of doing all of this work. There are heavy engineering skills in NZ to draw on. We’re not looking at being at the cutting edge. It isn’t that hard .

    We also made cars. We don’t now. We should know why. The same applies here.

    >>> the railway workshops in Wellington and Dunedin have been building rolling stock of all kinds since before WWII, and have a long track record of skilled workmanship.

    We’ve never built ANY EMU unit’s, nor the amount required. Why do you think we import BR MRK 2 car’s rather than building cars new here ?

    >>>thanks to the specific narrow-gauge requirements of New Zealand, no manufacturers have appropriate rolling stock lying around in the yard; all of it is a custom build-to-order

    Again, rubbish. See above. Do you ‘think’ we are the *only* country with Cape Gauge ? Look over the ditch….

    >>>This is the same blithering idiot who is all set to build Transmission Gully at a net loss to taxpayers of $400 million plus cost over-runs, I presume?

    Do tell me, what is the cost of *not* having a road into Wellington which is not falling into the sea ?

    • pollywog 6.1

      We also made cars. We don’t now. We should know why. The same applies here.

      I still reckon we should start making cars again… cutting edge budget electric ones and combine it with making next generation batteries and solar panels to sell as a complete self sustaining package.

      • felix 6.1.1

        You’re darn tootin we should.

        • pollywog 6.1.1.1

          Sweet…whos gonna spot us some dosh and commission the Yike Bike guy to rustle us up some blueprints and maybe get the Hulme supercar guys to prototype and ramp up production on them ?

          Graeme Hart maybe ?… I hear he’s flush with cash ?

          or am i being too ambitious ?

          • felix 6.1.1.1.1

            Well there’s this guy John Key, came back to NZ with heaps of ping and wants to help us all out I heard. Talks a lot about ambition.

            I think he means ambition purely as an aspirational goal though.

            • pollywog 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Thing with that Key fulla is…I heard his background isn’t in producing or manufacturing and that he only supports ‘charitable’ ventures.

              Sounds like a nice guy but i wouldn’t want him running my country, creating real jobs or anything like that, and fucked if i’d let him near my wallet.

              nah…i want someone with a proven track record.

          • Jared 6.1.1.1.2

            Haha, Hulme isn’t a good example. Hes been sitting on that design for quite some time and is yet to put it into production.

      • insider 6.1.2

        It’s easy to reckon. Do you know anyone anywhere with the capability to do so let alone do so in NZ?

      • Lanthanide 6.1.3

        I reckon we should have cutting edge fusion power plants in NZ. What’s your point?

      • Alwyn 6.1.4

        We never did make cars here.
        We imported packs of parts which we then assembled. In practice these were assembled in their country of origion, in the latter stages Japan, disassembled, packed into crates, shipped to New Zealand and then put together again.
        About all we did in New Zealand was things like upholstering seats and a few other trivial items.
        I’m afraid I can’t remember the details now but the extra cost of New Zealand cars was about twenty times the amount that people in the industry were paid.
        When they got rid of the import protection and the tariffs New Zealands finally got cheaper, and MUCH more up-to-date vehicles.

        • Bright Red 6.1.4.1

          yeah, no-one’s suggesting we do that in the case of these trains.

        • prism 6.1.4.2

          The cheaper vehicles were really appreciated by the young boy and girl racers. Brought in insects too, that sort of biodiversity we didn’t need.
          Was useful though in establishing reciprocal trade with Japan I guess.

        • Adrian 6.1.4.3

          Sorry mate, they wern’t “disassembled” in country of origin, they were the pressings of the main parts which were welded and fully assembled in NZ. Anybody of a certain vintage did time at a car factory, I was at Ford Lower Hutt while at Varsity. In fact, a huge amount of the vehicle in most cases was made in NZ, even down to the pistons, rings and bearings, all upholstery , batteries, steel and mag wheels ( Fords plant at Wiri exported to Ford plants all over the world) most of the plastic and even some of the metal pressings. The only thing that changed was the Japanese for one getting very efficient at building cars, using dedicated ships for complete car exports and succesive Governments not insisting on NZ manufacture. I can’t remember the total NZ content but it was high even by world standards, and even today the number of NZ new cars exported from here is quite surprising. They are mostly replicas of iconic models from Ferrari F40s and Ford GT40s to Jags and sports racers.

    • Bright Red 6.2

      Um. the BERL report says that keeping it in NZ will boost the economy by $250 million. What’s the GDP increase for NZ of sending the work overseas? Oh, right, nothing.

      You’ve got to look at the eocnomy-wide impact of government spending not just the single SOE’s balance sheet. Yup, it will be worth paying a little more to get the economic and fiscal benefits that are returned many times over. That’s just called being smart with your money.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      The capitalist fantasy falls down every time due to it’s need to grow and it always runs out of market. Once it runs out of market then the capitalist goes off looking for places that can make the same stuff cheaper (this is actually impossible BTW) and then sells it back to the original market. The original market, though, no longer produces anything. This is exactly what has happened in NZ (and other rich countries) since the neo-liberal revolution of the 1980s.

      At a country level sustainable self-sufficiency is the only viable economic option.

    • Galeandra 6.4

      Hamish, Buggers like you make me wonder how we ever built anything worthwhile in NZ ever. Thank God for Vogel et al-ever-after who had the vision, balls and borrowed the money… right down to the car assemblers and the coachbuilders…..
      I guess it is social ‘engineering’ to want to employ bros and sisses and to do do some yards for your own community.
      Take your abacus and sliderule and join your mates F&W in Zurich or wherever.

  7. Clarke 7

    >>>This is the same blithering idiot who is all set to build Transmission Gully at a net loss to taxpayers of $400 million plus cost over-runs, I presume?

    Do tell me, what is the cost of *not* having a road into Wellington which is not falling into the sea ?

    I think that statement perfectly illustrates the ideological blindness and financial illiteracy of the Right. For starters, the cost-benefit ratio for Transmission Gully already includes the putative value of another road out of the capital, and it still loses $400 million plus. Although the actual value is a bit in doubt, as the road is built over top of the fault line that’s most likely to rupture.

    All you’re doing is recycling the “roads good, rail bad” mantra, completely uniformed by any actual assessment of whole-of-life costs and benefits.

    • jagilby 7.1

      “financial illiteracy of the Right”

      Where exactly did you get your training in economic theory from? You seem to be an absolute doyen in the discipline.

      Keen to get delve into your obvious extreme depth of knowledge – issuing sovereign debt to pay for these things eh? Well, what a great idea… I heard of this thing lately called inflation though, your thoughts???

      Your thoughts seem to run contrary to all peer reviewed economic theory we have – or is that not coherent thinking in your book? Anyone for Economies of scale? Comparative advantage?

  8. Hamish 8

    >>>All you’re doing is recycling the “roads good, rail bad’ mantra, completely uniformed by any actual assessment of whole-of-life costs and benefits.

    haha, I was waiting for that little comment to pop up…

  9. ianmac 9

    When the suggestion to raise excise tax for alcohol was suggested, Key/Power said “No!” So much for serious discussion.
    Today a suggestion for NZ Rail to be NZ made. Joyce said “NO!” So much for serious discussion.
    The arrogance of them!
    I wonder if discussion could have arisen around investment by the Super Scheme since they are forced to invest in NZ?
    By the way I think there were rail workshops in Woolston Christchurch, and in Whanganui. Long gone but…..

    • Jim Nald 9.1

      With that kind of tone of response this morning, if they had been asked to help NZ pull off turning a Tolkien trilogy into a blockbuster, they would have said no.
      Frankly, I don’t think they know how to govern or even really make things happen. Hopeless.

  10. prism 10

    This trend of going overseas for everything because they do it better cheaper etc etc has helped to run down the 20th century expertise that this country had and we are now in the 21st century but relying on dairying and tourism – 19th century industries.

    Also we can never do anything like building our new rail stock if we don’t start doing it. Yes Minister the TV show had some good laughs. One was when Prime Minister Jim said to Advisor Sir Humphrey – ‘So what you’re saying is, we can do anything but never for the first time’.

    Our manufacturing has been run down under the economic theory from Ricardo’s idea of comparative advantage – the fundamental principle of specialisation. This is about concentrating the country’s effort into an industry in which it has a natural advantage but is a type of monoculture. It leaves us so vulnerable if the opportunity cost is not also considered.

    When we get the next outbreak of foot and mouth or someone in the area does and we all get tarred with the same brush, and our customers say take a hike for a while then… What have we got going for us? Nothing. The country has had a prolonged vision drought and now its too dry for ideas to grow, will be the response.

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      You can’t, with a straight face, say that tourism is anything earlier than a late 20th century industry. Especially to a place like NZ that is realistically only accessible by commercial aircraft that weren’t in routine operation until the 50’s…

      • lprent 10.1.1

        Ummm Perhaps you should visit the bathhouse museum in Rotorua and read some of the documentation there from the 19th to early 20th century.

        I’d agree if you said “mass tourism”

  11. coolas 11

    ‘We do dairying others do heavy industry,’ Joyce says.

    Such simplistic adherence to the Globalisation and Free Trade mantra’s of the C20th from this buffoon can be expected. His business career was in private radio was it not?

    The man has the imagination of a mosquito, and like that annoying little insect, he should be swatted before he bites anymore.

    • Jim Nald 11.1

      As I’ve said in different words – I thought, on radio this morning, he expressed a “can’t do” attitude. And even a “don’t wanna do” attitude.
      Easier and a quicker short-term fix to hop on the plane and seek an overseas answer.

  12. Bored 12

    These jerks (NACT) represent predominantly business interests and their stance reflects these peoples commitment to NZ and its citizens welfare. It also gives us a really good insight into their vision and ambitions for NZ.

    One thing occurs, under the raft of agreements signed for GATT etc I suspect we are no longer allowed to give government contracts out without offering them to all and sundry from offshore. can anybody comment on this?

  13. Nick C 13

    But why stop there? Maybe we should ban all imports of cars, so anyone who wants to buy a car has to buy from a manafacturer in New Zealand. Think of the jobs!

    Seriously though, if the ‘Fuck efficiency, go nationalism’ approach worked then the New Zealand economy would have taken off under Muldoon. It didnt.

    • Bored 13.1

      Nick,

      If you care to check the record all of the big industrial economies around the world have grown up under protectionist policies. Concurrently they demand open markets from those they wish to exploit. It may not have worked for Muldoon (basically we dont have the economy of scale) but it works a treat for the Good Old US of A.

    • Bright Red 13.2

      What’s your measure of efficiency here?

      According to the BERL report it is more efficient for New Zealand to do the production of these trains in NZ, since NZ ends up better off at the end – gets the things is wants to buy for less net cost. Isn’t that the definition of greater efficency?

      What is inefficient is for part of the government (Kiwirail) to make a decision without considering the impact on the rest of the government (tax take, benefit payments).

    • Bright Red 13.3

      Nick C. Without going off into silly day dreams about Think Big, do you have an actual economic argument about this actual proposal?

    • pollywog 13.4

      All i’m saying is, if we can design, build and market supercars and electric bicycles then surely we can design, build and market an electric car with all the peripherals and support systems to make it, and us, self sufficient ?

      ..and the way ‘peak oil’ is taking shape, now is the time for us to get in on the ground floor and start doing it. Imagine if John Britten had thought nah, too hard, i think i’ll just stay in bed and dream about it instead ?

  14. Kleefer 14

    Draco you are talking absolute rubbish. “Once it runs out of market then the capitalist goes off looking for places that can make the same stuff cheaper (this is actually impossible BTW) and then sells it back to the original market. The original market, though, no longer produces anything.”

    So if these “capitalists” are idiotic enough to sell us stuff for nothing in return, why are we complaining exactly? “Man stop giving me so much free stuff!” This situation is largely a result of currency pegs used by developing nations that effectively subsidise Western consumers while keeping their own citizens poorer. Again, why are we complaining?

    The fact is that New Zealand actually does produce “stuff”, albeit not the “stuff” that all the “rose-tinted view of New Zealand history” brigade want us to make. What you’re actually calling for is corporate welfare. Industries and companies that can’t stand on their own two feet lobby the government to help them out with taxes levied from the industries that are actually profitable. In other words we might as well take capital and pour it down a big hole.

    Sure, some would argue, corporate welfare is bad, but what about the government helping an industry to start up here in New Zealand? The problem here is that the government is trying to act as an entrepreneur, a role for which no government is suited. If there is an opportunity to build an industry due to inherent natural advantages or an existing stock of capital that lends itself to that particular use, market entrepreneurs will spot that chance way before a bunch of politicians and bureaucratic stooges do.

    • prism 14.1

      kleefer Industry generally has to quickly turn a profit. They report now on quarterly measurements of activity. Providing infrastructure tends not to be a sexy business to be in and there is a place for government and private or using private business models, to act to set in place such a long-term piece of useful infrastructure. A large amount of the business activity in NZ is in land development, tourism, financing the car or housing industries, supplying the building industry, basics like providing energy, carrying on privately after buying out government-run businesses.
      There aren’t that many captains of industry in NZ.

      • jagilby 14.1.1

        “Industry generally has to quickly turn a profit. They report now on quarterly measurements of activity. Providing infrastructure tends not to be a sexy business”

        Were you asleep when private businesses willingly applied to invest in the government fibre-broadband initiative?
        20+ (+++) year payback periods?

        Aren’t you the same lot that decry the willingness of private enterprise to go to the government seeking 25 year + contracts to build, operate and maintain infrastructure assets like Prisons, Hospitals and Schools.

        Heh, “infrastructure not sexy”, heard of Macquarie? Infratil? Really informed aren’t ya.

        • Pascal's bookie 14.1.1.1

          Good one jag.

          “Were you asleep when private businesses willingly applied to invest in the government fibre-broadband initiative?”

          Why is the governement doing it?

          Prisons, hospitals and schools aren’t infrastructure, and it’s a slightly different argument. It’s related in that private sector wants to extract a near risk free profit from the tax payer.

          Heh, “infrastructure not sexy’, heard of Macquarie? Infratil?

          Yeah, They mostly contract to build shit for other people. Very often, governments. How much of the stuff that infratil runs, was initially built by the government?

    • Draco T Bastard 14.2

      So if these “capitalists’ are idiotic enough to sell us stuff for nothing in return, why are we complaining exactly?

      You’re putting words in my mouth there. I certainly didn’t say “sell us stuff for nothing in return”. I’m pretty sure that they’ll quite be happy with debt slavery.

      In other words we might as well take capital and pour it down a big hole.

      We’re doing that already – it’s called foreign ownership.

      Sure, some would argue, corporate welfare is bad, but what about the government helping an industry to start up here in New Zealand? The problem here is that the government is trying to act as an entrepreneur, a role for which no government is suited. If there is an opportunity to build an industry due to inherent natural advantages or an existing stock of capital that lends itself to that particular use, market entrepreneurs will spot that chance way before a bunch of politicians and bureaucratic stooges do.

      The normal, completely fallacious dichotomy of “government = bad, private = good”. We’re in a recession ATM due to private enterprise being it’s normal self – greedy and self-centred to the point that it’s destructive.

      Society has numerous entrepreneurs. Most of them don’t have access to the resources to do anything about it because the capitalists (who are almost invariably not entrepreneurs) have scooped them all up and hold them close to their chest. Society can make the resources available, once we get them back off the capitalists, so that, when they spot the chance, they can do something about it. The government doesn’t act as entrepreneur – it acts as an enabler.

      Some things though, such as rail, is no longer a case for entrepreneurs. It’s a case of needed infrastructure and at that point the society puts forward the needed resources to build and maintain that infrastructure. Due to simple distance, it’s cheaper (in real terms) to do that here.

  15. Robb 15

    The new trains currently being built in Korea for the Wellington rail network, why were they not built in NZ, Labour & the Greens had the chance. Now they are crying from the hill tops ‘Build Them here’.

    • RedLogix 15.1

      The new trains currently being built in Korea for the Wellington rail network, why were they not built in NZ, Labour & the Greens had the chance.

      True, although when that contract was let several years ago, NZ was pretty much at the peak of it’s labour utilisation, and the big recession had yet to hit.

      I agree with your underlying sentiment Robb, yet realistically at the time Labour was facing an uphill election battle against a Nat opposition that would have slagged such a move as ‘creeping communism’ or some such C/T inspired smear.

      The fact is that those of us on the real left have despaired of the reigning, globally dominant neo-liberal dogma for 30 years now, even the Labour party we often voted for has been more than wobbly in the face of it over the years. Yet it still was Dr Cullen who returned the rail system to public ownership; unfortunately after the Matangi contract decisions were made.

      If Labour had remained in power might well have considered investing in the workshop capacity to build the EMU’s for Auckland, but the horse had pretty much bolted for the Wgtn ones. A shame the opportunity was missed.

      And of course under the current govt hell would more likely freeze first.

      • George.com 15.1.1

        I would day that if Labour was still in office the trains would be built in NZ, or a reasonable portion of them anyway. As the Labour govt rolled on they got more and more serious about rail.

    • Swampy 15.2

      Because no EMUs have ever been built in NZ. Wellington wanted them as quickly as possible, realistically to get things happening in NZ workshops would increase the lead time.

  16. Jim in Tokyo 16

    D.c.c are in the process of zoning Farrah engineering out of existance, the argument being that in the short term the portside land could be more efficiently developed as apartments or whatever. The counter argument goes that in the medium term, it’s more productive to maintain some infrastructure to support the fledgling offshore oil exploration industry.

  17. Jenny 17

    These traitors need to be slung out of office.

    How many jobs created by the stupid cycleway?

    Just a heartless joke.

    Real jobs

    Real training

    Real skills

    or Mass unemployment and misery

    Which one will these will this treacherous bunch choose.

    It’s our money, we want it spent here.

    All power to the RMTU campaign. I think that they deserve the backing of the whole union movement.

    If it takes 50 thousand in the street to rattle this government, then the union movement should triple that.

  18. big bruv 18

    Oh dear…once again you are wrong….

    ” They just want the cheapest price for the rail cars, and that means going overseas”

    First of all, “they” don’t have any money of their own, all the money “they” have belongs to the tax payer.
    As one of those tax payers I want the cheapest rail cars possible, if the local market can match the price the by all means lets build them here, if not, then tough luck.

    Mind you, I would have thought that the Labour party have already shown that they know nothing about rail, after all, they were the idiots who paid at least five times more than they should have for a train set.

    • Armchair Critic 18.1

      As one of those tax payers I want the cheapest rail cars possible
      And in doing so you demonstrate one of the main short comings of the government and their economic [cough] capability.
      As a tax payer I want the best value rail cars that can be bought with the available funding.
      Your word, “cheap”, goes with another word, “nasty”. You want cheap and nasty for NZ?

      • big bruv 18.1.1

        When it comes to rail I would have thought you lot might keep your heads down.

        Remember, your party are the idiots that paid way over the odds for Kiwirail, given that, I think anything you have to say on matters rail should be quickly dismissed.

        If we must have the bloody things then they should be the cheapest available.

        • Ari 18.1.1.1

          And your lot are the ones who sold the rail off in the first place necessitating the buyback, so you don’t have a leg to stand on either.

          As a taxpayer, if I had a choice between spending more and getting more back, providing much-needed jobs and building up our national infrastructure and saving a few cents in the short run, I’d want the government to bloody well spend more, because we get more back.

          The point of spending is not to minimise the dollar figure, but to maximise your outcomes per dollar spent. Buyng the cars elsewhere is not the most beneficial option per dollar.

        • Armchair Critic 18.1.1.2

          We clearly have different ideas as to what way over the odds means. That, or you have the long term vision of a myopic goldfish.
          We are also paying way over the odds for Nationals building reforms of the 1990s, we probably could have had quite a few train sets for the same price, and most of Steven Joyce’s holiday highways to boot. That’s what you get when you chose cheap and nasty.

    • Pascal's bookie 18.2

      all the money “they’ have belongs to the tax payer.

      No it doesn’t. It was paid by tax payers. That’s why we are called ‘payers’. Idiot.

      You could argue that it’s owned by citizens I suppose, which would be an ok metaphor, but you’d still be strictly wrong. It’s owned by the crown.

      taxpayers. pfffft.

  19. Jenny 19

    I am outraged.

    How many jobs created by the stupid cycleway?

    Just a heartless joke.

    A chance for –

    Real jobs

    Real training

    Real skills

    or unemployment and misery

    Which one will these do this government prefer.

    It’s our money, we want it spent here.

    All power to the RMTU campaign. I think that they deserve the backing of the whole union movement.

    If it takes 50 thousand in the street to rattle this government, then the union movement should triple that.

  20. “Joyce reveals his contempt for this country and his inability to see beyond simple commercial decision-making to a larger economic vision when he says “New Zealand isn’t very good at heavy industry’. He may as well have said ‘Kiwis can’t do this'”

    What he should have said is that New Zealand doesn’t have a comparative advantage at doing this. And he would have been right. This report just looks like another example of BERL coming up with big numbers because thats what those who funded it what to see.

    “The same goes for the Government’s attacks on Kiwirail in general as an unprofitable ‘worthless’ asset.”

    It’s only seen as unprofitable and worthless because it is.

    “They don’t understand how to manage an economy and promote New Zealand industry.”

    The best thing the government can do is not to try to manage the economy and to stay away from promoting New Zealand industry. It has no business in picking winners.

    • IrishBill 20.1

      Of course it does. Not in every instance but there are a lot of important things the market will not settle on, or if it does it will settle on a monopoly. Neither of these situations are acceptable to people with enough sense to realise the market is there to serve society.

      • Marty G 20.1.1

        Irish, mate. Don’t you understand that it’s the market that picks winners, via magic?

        Actually, in the market it’s the investment banks that choose winners. The investment banks profit when they make good choices and the people via the government that bail them out when they fuck up

        • Paul Walker 20.1.1.1

          “The investment banks profit when they make good choices and the people via the government that bail them out when they fuck up”

          The very important point here is that banks should NOT be bailed out when they fuck up. This is just an example of what happens when the government gets itself involved in trying to manage an economy. And why it shouldn’t.

          • Marty G 20.1.1.1.1

            I agree. the entire capitalist system is based on privatising gains to owners of capital and socialising costs and losses. it would collapse under the weight of its own greed and shortsightedness without government protection. but the government protection comes because the capitalists are the ruling elite.

    • Marty G 20.2

      Paul. How come someone can get by just on fact-free arguments?

      The government (of which Kiwirail is just a subdivision) should, rationally, make the purchasing decisions that deliver it the greatest value, which will not necessarily be the same as the best value for a sub-division like Kiwirail. It is economic vandalism for the government to take an option that will result it in being worse off than if it took another option. And it’s quite clear that when you take tax and benefits into account the government will be better off with the trains built here.

      Paul. You should be able to understand the difference between profit and value. The rail system, like the road system or any network delivers value to the economy far in excess of the revenue generated by the network owner. Indeed, it’s best for the economy if the price of accessing the network is kept low, even unprofitable – we don’t expect our roads to turn a profit, why should we expect any different from rail?

      “It has no business in picking winners.” This isn’t about picking winners, if’s about the government making an optimal decision.

      • IrishBill 20.2.1

        Good point. When I think about it the idea that a democratically elected government shouldn’t intervene in the economy because a little elite of money men should be the only ones to have that right is really approaching an argument for corporate fascism.

        • Paul Walker 20.2.1.1

          You only get corporate fascism when the government does intervene in the economy.

          • Ari 20.2.1.1.1

            The government intervenes all the time. Even removing existing rules is intervening, because you’re favouring the people most hampered by those rules.

            There is no neutrality. The aim of the government in the economy should be to create the fairest, simplest rules possible, so that everyone has a stake in the economy doing well. We haven’t had anything like that for decades.

          • IrishBill 20.2.1.1.2

            Bullshit. Next you’ll be telling me the great recession is the result of too much regulation.

          • Quoth the Raven 20.2.1.1.3

            Economics of fascism

            An inherent aspect of fascist economies was economic dirigisme[12], meaning an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence, and effectively controls production and allocation of resources. In general, apart from the nationalizations of some industries, fascist economies were based on private property and private initiative, but these were contingent upon service to the state.[13]

            Dirigisme is exactly what most people on this site whether right or left promote.

            • IrishBill 20.2.1.1.3.1

              The economics of fascism is different to corporate fascism.

              • Quoth the Raven

                By corporate fascism most people would mean corporatism. Corporatism was a major part of fascist economies.

      • felix 20.2.2

        It’s funny how Paul and his ilk like to pretend that Kiwirail is disconnected from everything else the state owns. I think they forget that saying “all things being equal” doesn’t actually make it so.

        The really funny thing though, bearing in mind this mentality, is that they accuse us of wanting to play with a train set. Go figure.

        • Paul Walker 20.2.2.1

          Kiwirail should be disconnected from the government insofar as the government has no business owning it.

          • Ari 20.2.2.1.1

            Your argument is so good you don’t even need to tell it to us, huh Paul?

            • IrishBill 20.2.2.1.1.1

              If paul says the government shouldn’t own something then the government shouldn’t own it. End. Of. Story.

          • Marty G 20.2.2.1.2

            But Paul, stay with me. The. Government. Does. Own. Kiwirail.

            Doesn’t matter how much you don’t like it, that doesn’t effect the rationale of this decision.

            Now, given that fact, shouldn’t the government insist that Kiwirail make decisions that are optimal for the government as a whole – just as I insist that my hand acts in a way that is optimal for me as a whole, even if that isn’t optimal for my hand?

      • Paul Walker 20.2.3

        Explain EXACTLY what value is over and above profit and explain EXACTLY how to measure value so that it can be taken into account when making optimal purchasing decisions.

        And there is no reason why the roads couldn’t make a profit. Some do. Just put a toll on them.

        • Maynard J 20.2.3.1

          Paul, are you just looking at kiwiral’s profit in this equation? Aand are you honestly demanding people to tell you what more to it there could be than kiwirail’s profit?

        • Ari 20.2.3.2

          value: decreased necessity to spend on social welfare, increased wealth, health, education, and quality of life. Increased entitlements, standards, and safeties. Fuller employment, lower work hours for the same result.

          It’s a pretty simple concept, the problem is that it’s really not adequately expressed in dollars. But, even considering long-term dollar outcomes alone, building cars ourselves is still better value than buying them elsewhere, because increased employment decreases welfare spending and increases the tax take.

        • Marty G 20.2.3.3

          Paul. You want to toll my cul de sac? You really live in a weird little dream world eh?

          Value obviously exists separate from profit. For one, a seller obviously doesn’t internalise all the value of a transaction or there would be no reason for the purchaser to take part. When you work out the value to the economy of the electricity network you don’t just add up the profits of the electricity companies do you?

          When NZTA works out the benefits and costs of a project and includes the WEBs (wider economic benefits) it is measuring the net value of a project to the economy, not the profits it will make (one can argue about the way NZTA measures those costs and benefits but not that the entire concept is a nullity).

          And don’t give me all caps, muppet, you’re a guest here.

          • Paul Walker 20.2.3.3.1

            None of which answers my question, so back to the actual question: “Explain EXACTLY what value is over and above profit and explain EXACTLY how to measure value so that it can be taken into account when making optimal purchasing decisions.”

        • Armchair Critic 20.2.3.4

          Just when I thought you were out of stupid ideas….
          Try tolling those little roads out the back of nowhere, Paul. Those ones that are little more than sealed tanker tracks to get raw milk to the factories. Those ones that are goat tracks on the side of hills, but essential for getting livestock to the works. After all, Steven Joyce thinks we are just a big farm and no good at anything else. Care to tell us how economic they are without subsidies? Or maybe hazard a guess at what the cockies would say if you tried tolling their roads? I can tell you right now that any government of any stripe would never see office again if they tried tolling country roads.
          Does anyone know (or have a link) how much of the cost of tolling the motorway extension to Puhoi goes in administration costs? In the current Nat-speak that’s called a back-office function or low quality spending or bureaucracy or some such stuff. You are advocating for increased costs for the same service, Paul?

    • RedLogix 20.3

      What he should have said is that New Zealand doesn’t have a comparative advantage at doing this.

      So what, I’m an old and slow tramper but I still get a great deal out it. Most of us don’t have a comparative advantage at most things…but we still do them nonetheless.

      It’s only seen as unprofitable and worthless because it is.

      Last we talked you were telling us how economists can’t even make basic predictions in your field…if that isn’t the definition of an unprofitable and worthless, then I don’t know what is.

      At least the trainset you despise so much actually moves some folk and freight on a daily basis; when did you last achieve even something that worthwhile?

    • NickS 20.4

      I’d expect a lecturer to at least bother to provide a more substantial critique of a report they disagree with, or at least links to prior critiques of conclusions reached BERL in previous studies. Besides, with google and other tools it’s not that difficult to rack your brain and bash out a quick search of resources you know of for relevant information.

      So, please provide us unwashed masses with the relevant information, or better yet, a critique of BERL’s report, otherwise I’m sure you can find “better” things to do than attempting to sway people already sceptical of your claims with evidence-free counter-claims.

      • IrishBill 20.4.1

        Oh my god. This guy is a lecturer? Where? Clown university? Hamburger university?

    • Armchair Critic 20.5

      Let me correct that for you.
      It’s only seen as unprofitable and worthless because it is denied access to the same level of subsidy as road transportation.

  21. ianmac 21

    On Close Up tonight they did do a good item on building trains.
    Joyce did not redeem himself! Arrogance! :(
    http://tvnz.co.nz/close-up/get-kiwis-do-locomotion-3509198

    • Jim Nald 21.1

      The Honourable Minister’s mind is closed.
      He can’t even think beyond the tip of his nose.
      Voters and the country are ill-served by this lot in Govt.

    • Jenny 21.2

      That thuggish dead faced mug-shot look, that Joyce put on as he accused the rail workers and their reps of being disingenuous, i.e. liars.

      They should sue him for defamation.

      I just wondered why they didn’t show the traditional side view as well.

      A criminal representative of a criminal and treasonous government.

    • felix 21.3

      Most telling was the look on Joyce’s face when Sainsbury says “But the bottom line is we want to see more jobs in this country…”

      I see the same look on my dog’s face when I talk to her about the influence of Miles Davis’ electric period on contemporary forms.

  22. Hamish Gray 22

    I suppose the premise is sensible if you have absolutely no idea about train design, manufacture and after-sales support. Not only is it prohibitively expensive, but if you were to apply a local content requirement, you would have to, by international treaty (ANZCERT) include Australia in that definition – Australia where they do have local design and manufacturing capability, care of subsidiaries of Bombardier and Alstom. And they would likely win because a. they’re better at it, b. they’re cheaper and c. they can do it sooner.

    Why should taxpayers pour tons of cash into a marginal proposition when core public services go wanting (according to just about every thread poster on this site)? Especially after Michael Cullen paid an obscenely overpriced amount to buy back the railway network. Train manufacture would take decades to be of net economic benefit, and even then it’s unlikely, owing to New Zealand’s tiny domestic market,and nil demand from offshore due to myriad of reasons.

    I suppose this fascination by the Left with trains stems from an old-world view of building big metallic machines making economic sense. When anyone with any business acumen at all sees the real value in itsy-bitsy products made of advanced materials and contributing to a plethora of activities.

    • IrishBill 22.1

      You were going great guns until that last bit hamish. You said “real value in itsy-bitsy products when what you should have said is “real value in smart products like credit default swaps on complex sub-prime financial instruments.”

      You need to spend some more time learning right-wing at Paul’s clown collage.

    • Marty G 22.2

      I’m not talking about a local content requirement. I’m talking about the government making the optimal decision viewed from the stand point of the government as a whole, rathe than a subsection of it.

      I want my hand to do things that are optimal for my body as a whole, not what suits it best. Why would the government let a subdivision (Kiwirail) behave any differently?

      The engineers on Close Up seemed certain they could do the work, and they’ll be doing the after sale support any way.

      “Why should taxpayers pour tons of cash into a marginal proposition” According to the BERL report, the cost is only marginally more when done here than abroad, and the government more than recoups that in income tax.

      The rail system delivers enormous value to the economy. Labour faced either having to constantly bribe Toll to not let it collapse or buy it back. It bought it back. Who cares that it doesn’t make a profit, neither do the roads, or the sewers. The only networks in New Zealand that do turn profits (electricity, and telecommunications) are basket cases because of it.

      • NickS 22.2.1

        There’s also the forecast jump in oil prices in the next couple of decades, which if you assume that’s going to cause an increase in public transport demand, we just be looking at the retro-fitting of the cities presently without rail transport, with it + the expansion of rail links Auckland and Wellington. Which might actually make it more worthwhile to invest in those rail workshops…

        Mind you, I’m as tired as hell right now, and I get the notion there’s major issues with the above, but I’ll leave that to someone else to elucidate.

      • Hamish Gray 22.2.2

        You appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of government procurement and the role of international trade treaties. The New Zealand Government is also a signatory to the Government Purchasing Agreement between NZ and Oz – this automatically opens the doors for Australian bids – were the government to block this, they would likely kick off an enormous diplomatic and, possibly, trade row with Australia.

        Australian train manufacturers would be automatically allowed to bid and given their superior and proven capabilities, would win under standard procurement procedures. So the government’s hands are effectively tied, regardless of all other arguments.

        • Bright Red 22.2.2.1

          Hamish. Can you read? It’s not about automatically accepting NZ bids over foreign ones. It’s about weighing the costs and benefits on a wider basis than simply the individual government body.

          Can you understand that?

  23. Jum 23

    75% of New Zealanders were happy that KiwiRail was bought back by the Labour Government. We could see the future benefits of public transport being brought into the 21st century and in line with overseas thinking and planning.

    This government is deliberately and vindictively reversing that process and spitting in the face of 75% of New Zealanders’ views.

    It also interests me that a poster says we shouldn’t try to do what Australia can do better but would no doubt be more than happy for us to turn our country into a giant cash cow for mining interests that would be better done in Australia where they have the already dead land and the facilities.

    All these people seem to forget this government promised to build up infrastructure and create new jobs. NAct are turning down both in this case. They are also via Steven Joyce telling New Zealand rail people that they are too stupid to build the sophisticated rail stock. I can imagine why; when you want cheap desperate labour why would you want to build up Kiwi spirit and ingenuity, having dismantled all the good working rights from the last decade in one year (2009).

    Since we are seen as a low wage economy in New Zealand this government will never countenance New Zealand workers having the strength to demand more pay; the investor great whites circling New Zealand now have been promised a safe country, a placid lowpaid workforce that will work harder than all but one other country and are too nice to complain when their rights are daily eroded. Soon, under Key and Co, New Zealanders will own nothing and they will have no power in their own country. Then they will know what Key was placed here for.

    The battle to have a country we own and we care about must continue.

  24. Jenny 24

    The stupidity of these losers. You buy any product in New Zealand the money stays in New Zealand and is spent again.

    You spend it overseas it is gone forever, and not only that but it adds to our foreign accounts deficit.

    Every job exported, means more money has to be spent on unemployment benefits. I suppose this creates greater opportunities for that old tory blood sport of beneficiary bashing.

    The question for the public is, Is this government wilful or just ignorant?

  25. Jared 25

    Hold up. Remember Project Protector? The contract to build the Navy ships awarded under Labour to Tenix, an Australian company? Surely we had the infrastructure here to build them! Were you criticising them then? No, infact, you complained not so long ago about NIWA sending their vessel the Tangaroa to Singapore for a refit, but I don’t recall the left questioning such a decision. We had the infrastructure, and the expertise, Labour said it was about price.

    • Marty G 25.1

      The Standard didn’t exist when Project Protector was tendered. dork.

      • Jared 25.1.1

        I didn’t say that dick, I meant the left in general, including Unions “I don’t recall the left questioning such a decision”. Also, nice attempt to avoid my question.

        • Marty G 25.1.1.1

          you said ‘you’, I’m the one who wrote the article. I’m the one you appeared to be accusing of hypocrisy.

    • Armchair Critic 25.2

      About 30% of Project Protector was done in NZ. That included four of the seven ships.
      The Australian-built ships were plagued with problems.

      • Jared 25.2.1

        The inshore patrol vessels. Thats it. We could have built the OPV’s as well, maybe even the Canterbury.

        • Armchair Critic 25.2.1.1

          So building trains shouldn’t be too difficult, either. Especially if the price is right.

    • lprent 25.3

      Have a look at the website for Project Protector for a timeline…

      Project Protector fleet requirements were outlined in the 2002 Maritime Forces Review, conducted by Defence in close cooperation with MFAT, the Ministry of Fisheries, Customs, Treasury, the Maritime Safety Authority, and Police among others. In mid-2004 a study was undertaken in conjunction with the Civilian Agencies to decide the number of vessels and fleet mix necessary.

      The Project Protector vessels’ capabilities include sealift, coastal and offshore patrol, and at-sea training for the RNZN. New Zealand’s approach to the Protector ships, that they are designed, built and maintained to commercial standards, is consistent with other contemporary navies.

      In April 2004, the Australian firm Tenix Defence Pty Ltd was chosen as the prime contractor for the Project Protector patrol vessels and multi-role vessel for the RNZN. On Thursday 29 July 2004 the Minister of Defence signed the contract with Tenix and they began the final detailed design phase for the new ships before the first steel was cut early in 2005.

      This site started at the end of August 2007 well after most of the major ships were delivered.

      I’m sure that if we’d have been running when the proposals and tenders were being done, then some of the authors would have something to say – probably from several sides.

      If you’re going to snipe, then please use your brains and snipe on something effective.

      Update: I see that Marty did the shorter version of my comment :) I highlighted the dates for you in case you missed them

      • Jared 25.3.1

        For the third time, I said the “left”, the unions have been far more vocal in the past, it seems just when it comes to National making decisions they make themselves heard.

        • lprent 25.3.1.1

          You also said

          Were you criticising them then?

          The ‘left’ was almost an aside. Besides, the ‘left’ have almost as many opinions as there are people you’d classify as being in it. For instance, I’m quite supportive of having a strong military.

          I also think that you’re trying to compare apples with oranges. Rail equipment of the type we’re using here is old and well-known tech – definitely not cutting edge. Military equipment is generally as close to the cutting edge as countries can afford because otherwise it tends to be quite useless.

          You obviously can’t express yourself clearly, perhaps you should concentrate on learning how to do that more effectively.

  26. hah…just clocked this re: electric cars, as if we needed more proof…

    Visiting Nissan Technology marketing boss Shinsuke Suzuki held talks last month with the Wellington and Christchurch mayors.

    New Zealand was a “tier one” customer for pilot programmes because 67 per cent of this country’s electricity was generated using renewable resources, he said.

    “New Zealand has fantastic vision. That is why your market is regarded by us as a prime market for electric cars.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/motoring/3648831/Plug-in-cars-likely-for-World-Cup-fans

  27. felix 27

    Is anyone going to ask this government exactly when they intend to engage their economic recovery package and create the first fucking job?

    • pollywog 27.1

      talking about fucking jobs and railways…

      I’ve always wanted to fully pimp out some rail cars and operate a top class brothel/casino for high rollers running up and down the main trunk line.

      • Marty G 27.1.1

        Keep dreaming those big dreams, mate, you’re a visionary.

      • felix 27.1.2

        There’s that “ambition” again p.

        Look, there are plenty of other countries specialising in hookers and gambling. Let’s just stick to milking the cows eh?

        • pollywog 27.1.2.1

          nah…seriously, think of the jobs and tourist dollars. It currently beats attracting freedom campers and cyclists for the famed national cycleway ?

          It wouldn’t take much to add a few more railcars to the wishlist and get one of our renowned luxury yacht builders to pimp them out. Hell, could probably sell a few overseas as well.

          Make good PR too, for Key to invite them oil shieks and his ol mate berlusconi over, treat em to some grand scenery, a fine ho or two and a bit of a flutter.

  28. Adrian 28

    ” We don’t do heavy engineering” What do you call several of the world’s biggest dairy factories. They are a bloody lot bigger than a train.

  29. Rob M 29

    Get a real job Paul Walker.
    The government is in a position where it’s current business expenses can be a source of future revenue and not only that reduce it’s future expenditure. By awarding the contract to a NZ company jobs and businesses are created that pay tax, dole numbers are reduced, families are bumped into higher income brackets where income subsidies like WFF are also reduced. It’s that simple. A 10 year old could understand it but we have a whole lot of ideological whallahs like economists and treasury wonks warping on about comparative advantage and keeping government out of business. They’ve carried the box for their big business sponsors for nigh on 30 years, lending the rape and pillage of our economy some intellectual/academic respectability. The scary thing is they actually believe the shit their spouting while it brings them no more comparative advantage than a steady job on a bureaucrats wage. Their corporate masters, who will trumpet which ever fashionable ideology brings them greatest reward and take a state handout when it suits them, benefit enormously.

    • Pascal's bookie 29.1

      There is very little evidence that we have any comparative advantage in economists.

      Economists suggest the government should therefore stop funding and paying attention to economists.

      It’s like a star trek episode with the evil robot, and Kirk’s cunning question. And the puff of fatal smoke.

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