Tranz Rail buyback: why they did it

– John Edmundson

On May 5 this year the Government announced that it had completed negotiations with Toll Holdings to repurchase the rail and ferry business sold by the Bolger National government in 1993. For some, this has been seen as a great blow against the post-1984 neoliberal onslaught, characterised by a string of restructuring and asset sales carried out by successive Labour and National governments.

There is no question that the decline of rail in New Zealand has been a sorry tale. Prior to the 1984 election, Richard Prebble toured the nation, stopping in at railway workshops around the country, promising to “Save Rail”. Once in power, he revealed what that actually meant. NZ Rail slashed staff and services. Thousands of workers, and many communities, were devastated by the reforms.

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