Wednesday, October 28, 2009

how Treasury officials think

This letter to the editor in today's Dominion Post is a typical example of how the country's Treasury officials who occupy the building at 1 The Terrace in Wellington think. It may not be a Treasury official, of course, this could just as easily be a trucking industry lobbyist; however, it is how the glass tower accountants who occupy Treasury think, and unfortunately is a very real precursor to all Government funding for the Railways ending.

The first response that should be made to this is, why should the railways be considered differently to the highways? The highways gobble up billions of dollars in cash every year. Does this person think that the Government should stop funding roads too?

Secondly does this person know how much large trucks smash up the roads every year, requiring money to be spent repairing the roads? You only need to drive between the Kapiti Coast and Wellington any day of the week to encounter a procession of huge dangerous logging trucks and trailers, each one of which causes the road wear of 200,000 cars - parallel all the way to the North Island Main Trunk railway. If this traffic was instead shifted onto the railway, it would mean less spent repairing that road, less expensive diesel fuel imported, less pollution, less congestion and safer driving conditions. The same applies right around the country.

Certainly the Clark/Cullen Government wasted a golden opportunity to buy back the Railways in 2003 - when the Fay Richwhite gang had to make a hasty exit because of their shonky financing and insider trading - at a much cheaper price than what they paid Toll Holdings last year, but now that the Railways are a public asset again, in every sense, shouldn't the public be enabled to get good use out of the railway system rather than simply having it shut down for them as this person wants to do?

This person claims that no country operates a successful railway system, and that New Zealand doesn't produce a high enough volume of goods to support a viable railway system: both statements are obviously ill-informed nonsense but unfortunately that's the Treasury.

This person ends with a parting claim that the Government subsidizes "trainspotters", but he clearly has no problem with the massively greater amount that the Government spends subsidizing truck spotters.

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