July 16, 2024

Government ferry decision a case of political steering failure

The Maritime Union says the Government’s U-turn on purchasing new Interislander ferries is the predictable but costly outcome of flawed decision making.

The Government has said it is now looking at building new ferries again following the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Group.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Carl Findlay says the grounding of the Aratere last week has now brought home the seriousness of the situation of our inter-island ferries.

“The iRex project for new ferries and terminals should have been reconfigured rather than cancelled outright.”??

He says the claimed savings by the Government do not stack up.  

“There needs to be an accounting of costs incurred up to now, including any break fees, a far higher price point for new builds ordered now, and a probable five year wait for new vessels to come into service.”

Mr Findlay says industry sources have suggested that the all up cost of the new builds could be up to $1.2 billion – more than double the $551 million cost of the vessels for the cancelled iRex project.

The current ferries will all be well over thirty years old by 2029. Maintenance costs have doubled on the ageing ferries to an estimated $65 million a year.

Mr Findlay says it is unacceptable that crew and passengers will be exposed to risk caused by failure to invest in ferries and infrastructure.

He expressed grave concern the proposed new ferries would not be rail capable.

“This means double handling of containers, adding substantial costs for freight customers, delays and undermining the supply chain.”

Mr Findlay says none of this takes into account that the Picton and Wellington ferry terminals both still require modernization.

The Maritime Union says new ferries have to be rail capable and there needs to be a plan for terminal upgrades in both Wellington and Picton.

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