Steven Joyce Defends Roading Money, Hints About KiwiRail Chair


Transport Minister Steven Joyce explained today why roading upgrades deserve so much money -  for now.

But in interesting wording, he seemed to suggest he doesn’t necessarly believe that will always be that way.

Interviewed by 3 news’ political editor Duncan Garner on the channel’s new The Nation Saturday morning programme, Joyce had this say about his transport portolio:

“Getting the transport infrastructure sorted - that’s really important.
“In our case in New Zealand it’s predominantly roading, because we’re a predominantly roading based nation and we can’t change that in five minutes flat.
“So there’s a lot of improvements to be done there, so that when people are trying to get around our big cities and actually do their jobs, that they can, and that lifts the productivity and growth right across those.”

On KiwiRail, Mr Joyce was asked: “Is it true that they want about a billion dollars or perhaps more over ten years from the government?”

STEVEN: I think they’d take as much as we could give them.

DUNCAN How much will you give them?

STEVEN We’re working through that at the moment, what we’ve said is that we’d make the best of it, but let’s be not mistake…

DUNCAN Do you want KiwiRail, do you want to hang on to it?

STEVEN Oh look I think the price that was paid by the previous government, and I’ve said it before, it was nuts, it was over the top, and what we have said we’d make the best of it, it’s an asset that is a sunk economic asset for New Zealand, the options are not do something with it and watch it run down and fall to bits over time, the other option given we’ve got a lot of freight growth coming over the next 20 years, is to put some investment in, but we’ve gotta be very careful about the way we do it.

Will Jim Bolger be leaving the trains?

DUNCAN We understand that Jim Bolger won’t be rolled over as the Chairman of KiwiRail from June, is that correct?

STEVEN The governance of KiwiRail is the responsibility for my good friend Mr Power, but we are looking at refreshing the governance.

DUNCAN So Jim Bolger will be removed as Chairman?

STEVEN My understanding is that we’re looking at renewing the governance but that’s for Simon to announce.

DUNCAN Hasn’t the decision already been made behind the scenes?

STEVEN Well there’s been no announcement at this point as to whether Jim goes or whether he’s replaced.

DUNCAN Is it incorrect?

STEVEN Is it incorrect what?

DUNCAN Is the speculation incorrect that he will be removed as Chairman in June?

STEVEN I’m just not making that announcement today, that’s for Mr Power to do.

On the week’s controversy about SuperGold, which saw the prime minister quickly dampen down suggestions oldies’ transport concessions, such as on the Waiheke ferry, wold be axed and the minister quickly “clarify” his statement, Mr Joyce suggested his original news release was to blame. It’s usally blame the news media- this time it was blame the news release!

STEVEN I think slightly naïveté on my part I gave an inch and a few people in know, you included, took a mile, and sort of expanded it hugely, which was fair enough.

DUNCAN Very fairly I thought.

STEVEN Well yes of course, and so my job – it was sending the wrong signals, it was never the intention to actually change the eligibility for superannuitants, but it was loosely written in the press release, so I take full responsibility for that, and we changed and fixed it the next day.





  1. Luke says:

    Looksl like Jims become too much of a railfan for Joyces liking. Maybe Jim is being resistive to taking the axe to Kiwirails services, as he can see the damage it will do.

  2. Jeremy Harris says:

    Hmmm, that is actually quite encouraging, still I shall reserve judgement until I see some Railways of National Significance and Public Transport Projects of National Significance..!

  3. max says:

    “the options are not do something with it and watch it run down and fall to bits over time”

    Sorry Joyce, that’s already been done. You don’t have that option anymore.

    “the other option given we’ve got a lot of freight growth coming over the next 20 years, is to put some investment in, but we’ve gotta be very careful about the way we do it.”

    Yes, because with all the money spent on motorways, there will be nothing left. So we need to put “some” and “very careful” in all sentences related to funding rail. Thankfully we have enough of those left!

  4. Steve W says:

    It seems that Mr Joyce is earning a little respect - unlike the NBR. Check this out and feel free to add your comments.

  5. cierat says:

    hate to say the obvious… but except for overseeing the spending a lot of taxpayer’s money, its hard to say what kiwirail has actually accomplished to date since Jim took the reins… wheres the plan man!?

    I would recommend a more hardline board with some offshore rail expertise to see through any excuses, push new ideas and offer some real guidance from above rather than the other way around…

    also National have got to stop crying about the cost of buying kiwirail from toll!!! as the track infrastructure was bought for the pricely sum of $1 paying a couple of extra hundred mill to get complete control of the rail network back makes some sense… too bad the trucking part of rail wasn’t kept tho!!!

  6. Luke says:

    The other thing worth mentioning is that in hindsight, everyone who bought a business in early 2008, or several years previous, overpayed for the business.
    This is true of the purchase of TV3, Fletchers purchase of Formica, etc, etc.
    Kiwirail is a high fixed cost business, and if its tonnage falls by 13% because of the biggest worldwide recession since WWII I dont think you can complain much that it is not making money.

  7. max says:

    “wheres the plan man!?”

    Hard to have a plan, man, when they keep begrudging you the paper to write it on.

    I expect that pretty much all they have is going into emergency repairs.


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