Port shambles holding New Zealand back

Thursday 12 July 2012, 11:43AM
By Labour Party

New Zealand exporters face increased transport costs and New Zealand workers are losing their jobs due to the Government's lack of a plan for our ports, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.

Yesterday, it was announced that over half the jobs at Timaru's Prime Port would be lost and its container shipping facilities closed after two major shipping lines decided to stop visiting the port. It follows a pattern of ports around New Zealand undercutting each other in competition for freight business.

"The National Government axed all funding for the development of coastal shipping in their Government Policy Statement on Transport Funding in 2009," said Ms Genter.

"The job losses at Timaru are the latest sign that the Government's failure to invest in a plan for New Zealand ports is hurting exporters and workers.

"In the absence of a coherent plan, the port companies are attempting to undercut each other rather than working together to achieve the best outcome for New Zealand.

"The current situation has led to over-capacity as ports compete with each other for market share.

"Expensive investments in port facilities and supporting road and rail networks are made only for them to sit idle when shipping companies cut a better deal with other ports.

"New Zealand ends up with wasted investments and higher overall export costs, while the foreign-owned shipping companies benefit from lower port fees.

"New Zealand needs an export transport strategy that designates a few major ports as export and import centres, supported by a regional coastal shipping network.

"From there, we can plan road and rail requirements that allow New Zealand businesses to get their goods to market at least cost.

"The Greens' plan for a smart, green economy calls for a transport strategy that meets New Zealand's need for a low-carbon, energy-efficient, least-cost transport network for our exporters," said Ms Genter.