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The upper North Island freight system is too important to New Zealand to be left as a political play-thing of NZ First Ministers and their political agendas, National’s Transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Interim report of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group, chaired by former Far North District Council mayor Wayne Brown shows a thinly disguised preference for massive investment in rail between South Auckland and Northport, leading to a shift of activity away from the Ports of Auckland to Northport.

“It also seems to be peddling the concept of a nationalised ports monopoly in the upper North Island. There is no evidence or analysis to back up the suggestion that such a nationalised monopoly would be more efficient than current arrangements. 

“There is no evidence to suggest the billions it would cost to upgrade rail from Auckland to Whangarei, plus building a new spur to Marsden point and a new freight line across Auckland, would be the best use of scarce transport resources and would lead to a better outcome for exporters or consumers.

“Instead, the report argues ‘strategic vision’ is more useful than business cases when thinking about such major investments. Having Wayne Brown chair the Working Group is like having Michael Cullen chair the Tax Working Group – the outcome of the report is effectively predetermined.

“The Government is quite right to be inquiring into the efficiency of freight movements across the Upper North Island and to be planning for the long-term future.  We support careful and considered planning of future investment. Which is why National has supported the Government’s planned Infrastructure Commission to advise on such things. The direction of this report, however, undermines the Infrastructure Commission approach.”

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