The admission by Transport Minister Stephen Joyce that he had got his facts wildly wrong last week in Parliament while slagging off the proposed Hamilton – Auckland passenger rail service has led to an invitation being issued for him to visit Hamilton and discuss “facts, not prejudices”.
Hamilton City Council Transport Committee Chair Dave Macpherson, one of many locals supporting the commencement of the rail service, said “it’s always disappointing when a senior Government Minister is so hell-bent on attacking something that he lets his mouth run away on him without checking the facts.”
Stephen Joyce had claimed in answer to a Parliamentary question last week that it would cost $15,000 per trip to subsidise each rail passenger – an answer that he has now admitted was wrong by a factor of several hundred!
“While we are pleased that Minister Joyce has corrected himself – he did after all gets his claims of $15,000 per passenger subsidy dramatically wrong – we are disturbed that he didn’t check first with his own departmental officials, let alone Waikato people supporting the service, before shooting his mouth off.”
“Supporters of the rail service, which even Minister Joyce has agreed will happen at some stage, have had to put up with a lot of deliberate misinformation about the cost of the service, some of it from local Government MP David Bennett.”
“All we ask for is the same level of support rail services in Auckland and Wellington get, or bus services around the country, for the rail service – if we get that, the service will be more than viable.”
“To help Minister Joyce get his facts straight, I’d like to invite him up to Hamilton to get a personal briefing on the actual cost, as proposed by his own KiwiRail company, as well as to get a flavour of the high degree of local support.”
“Minister Joyce is doing a good job on transport safety and building big roads, but for a pragmatic person he seems to have a blind spot about a few other things!”