Judith Collins versus Phil Twyford: Question ten

Question No. 10?Transport

10.?Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National?Papakura)?to the?Minister of Transport: Is the current industrial action by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union in Auckland assisting the Government’s efforts to encourage greater public transport use?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): First, may I add my congratulations to the new Opposition leader, Simon Bridges, former transport Minister, and thank him for his support of public transport in Auckland, particularly signing off the City Rail Link, the selection of light rail for rapid transit?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will now start addressing the question.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: In relation to the industrial action, it is never a good look to have disruption to public transport schedules that so many people rely on and plan their lives around. I’m advised that today the parties are in discussion, and we’re hopeful of them arriving at a sensible and equitable solution.

Hon?Judith Collins: What action is the Government taking today to ensure that Aucklanders can get to work or study on time, given the ongoing strikes by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, which are disrupting thousands of commuters?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: As I said, the parties are in discussion today. I’m hopeful that they will come to a sensible resolution of the issue. This Government aims to lift wages and conditions after years of stagnation. Collective bargaining is one of the most effective ways of doing this, and as transport Minister I can say that my colleague, the Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, has my full support in this.

Hon Judith Collins: How can he consider train transport reliable when today’s meeting between the rail union and the train operator had to be delayed because even the mediator’s train was late?

Ka Pow!

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I’m advised that Auckland Transport and Transdev, the operator, have developed a temporary timetable to minimise disruption and provide consistent rail services on these lines. Customers can expect the southern, western, and eastern lines’ weekday peak services at 20 minute intervals with inter-peak and off-peak services running as normal. Many trains on these services will run with six cars, which can hold 900 passengers, to help reduce the impact.

Hon Judith Collins: Why should New Zealanders have any confidence that there will not be more train strikes with him in charge, when there have been four train strikes in four months under his watch and there were none in the nine years before that?

Bam Pow Zap

Isn’t it funny how we get many more strikes under Labour governments than we do under National ones. Why is that do you think?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Our Government believes that collective bargaining is an important way that both wages and conditions can be dealt with, but also that safety is an issue that can be dealt with through collective bargaining. We will uphold the rights of the parties to negotiate under the law in a sensible way to resolve these disputes.

Hon Judith Collins: Does the Minister support this strike?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The New Zealand Transport Agency is the transport regulator, which is in charge as an independent rail regulator. They have the statutory responsibility to make a judgment about the safety issue that these parties are in dispute over. As transport Minister, I’m going to leave them to do their job.