MP Clare Curran has attacked KiwiRail for taking legal
action to stop publication of a leaked internal report
outlining its plans to slash jobs and network maintenance over
the next three years.
The Dunedin South MP says the Infrastructure and Engineering
Business Plan report, which her Labour Party colleague, Phil
Twyford, tried unsuccessfully to table in Parliament
yesterday, also contains information about the Hillside
Engineering Workshops and the public should be allowed to
know about that.
Last year, 44 Hillside workers were made redundant. KiwiRail
put the workshops on the market in April and is considering
indicative offers from an undisclosed number of potential
buyers. A decision on the sale is expected early next month.
Ms Curran was yesterday prepared to reveal what the business
plan said about Hillside, but late on Wednesday night
KiwiRail obtained a High Court interim injunction preventing
media organisations, including the Otago Daily Times,
from publishing the contents of the report.
Another High Court hearing in Wellington, which finished at
7pm yesterday, upheld the interim injunction, but said media
could "reasonably and fairly" report discussion in Parliament
yesterday about the business plan.
Calling the report "damning", Ms Curran said last night the
public's right to know was "much bigger than just Hillside".
"This is explosive stuff. The lid's coming off about the
pressure the Government is putting on KiwiRail to cut costs
and the impact that is going to have on the network."
In Parliament yesterday, Mr Twyford, Labour's transport
spokesman, used question time to outline the broad focus of
the report, including $200 million of maintenance programme
cuts, a reduction in track renewals, and the downgrading of
several sections of railway line.
He cited the report to claim that from 2014 the rail asset
would decline, the disruption risk would grow and spending on
virtually all rail routes would be run down in some way.
Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee, speaking on behalf of
State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall, challenged Mr
Twyford about where he got the document from, saying he
suspected it was an internal scoping paper looking at network
risks and making clear that KiwiRail needed to invest in its
When Mr Twyford asked him if he backed KiwiRail's action to
keep the report private, Mr Brownlee said he did "because the
media outlet wanting to publish an opinion about the document
was going to do so in a most irresponsible way".
After Government MPs blocked Mr Twyford's attempt to table
the business plan, Labour distributed copies to the
parliamentary press gallery.
Ms Curran has strenuously opposed KiwiRail's decision to buy
Chinese designed and manufactured locomotives and wagons,
saying some of that work could have been done at Hillside.
The 20 locomotives and many of the 535 wagons imported last
year have faults which are being repaired in this country.
During question time yesterday, Ms Curran asked Mr Brownlee
whether he had been informed by the KiwiRail board of a North
Island railway engineer losing his eyesight from flying
shards [of metal] while repairing one of the faulty
Mr Brownlee did not answer the question.
Ms Curran tabled an email she had received about the