20 Apr 2012

Decision to sell Hillside up to KiwiRail - minister

11:46 am on 20 April 2012

Finance Minister Bill English, as a shareholding minister of KiwiRail, says his responsibility is to ensure the company has the funding it needs to operate successfully.

On Thursday, KiwiRail informed 123 workers at the Hillside engineering workshops in Dunedin that the site will go on the market early in May.


Last year, 44 workers at Hillside lost their jobs when KiwiRail awarded contracts for new locomotives and 500 flat-top wagons to Chinese companies.

KiwiRail now says it does not have enough forward orders to justify keeping the workshops.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, a Dunedin-based list MP, says the sale will almost certainly result in job losses.

Labour MP for Dunedin South Clare Curran says the decision to sell is extraordinary, as Hillside is a state-owned asset and there was no talk during the election about its possible sale.

Ms Curran is calling for the shareholding ministers in KiwiRail to front up and explain why a sale is necessary.

But Mr English says operational details are the responsibility of the KiwiRail board, while he is responsible for providing adequate funding and is ultimately accountable to the taxpayers.

The minister says if there is a sale, he hopes it is done in a way that can preserve existing jobs.