Friday, July 19, 2024

Mayor welcomes ferry advisory group appointees

Marlborough District Council Mayor, Nadine Taylor, has welcomed appointments to the Ministerial Advisory Group which has been tasked with providing independent advice and assurance on the future of KiwiRail’s inter-island ferry service.

State Owned Enterprises Minister, Paul Goldsmith has announced that Nelson Airport Chief Executive, Mark Thompson, will chair the Ministerial Advisory Group.

He will be joined by a further two members, Mark Cairns (pictured, main photo), who is currently a director of Freightways, Auckland International Airport and Sanford Limited, and Roger Sowry, a former MP and cabinet minister, now a professional director with considerable governance expertise.

“It’s important for New Zealand that KiwiRail is focused on ensuring safe, resilient, and reliable ferry services over the short to medium term while longer term solutions for the Cook Strait connection are developed,” Minister Goldsmith said.

Mark Thompson, will chair the Ministerial Advisory Group.

News of the appointments follow KiwiRail’s recent announcement of its intention to cancel the $555 million contract with ship builder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea.

“This cancellation is not a fresh blow for the region – the bad news came for Marlborough last December when the Government announced it was pulling funding. At the time this was a shock, particularly to the Picton community who have been and continue to be the most directly affected by the disruptive project works,” Mayor Taylor said.

The Ministry of Transport will also lead an assessment of long-term interisland service requirements and replacement options for the Interislander ferries is expected to be part of these broader reviews.

Roger Sowry.

“We have continued to make representation to the Government that we need to invest in the safety and resilience of this critical national transport connection for the long term. How and when remains the question.”

“I am pleased to see the Government has moved quickly and we now look forward to working with the Ministerial Advisory Group,” the Mayor said.

The appointment of the Ministerial Advisory Group follows the Government’s decision last year not to provide further funding for the Inter-Island Resilient Connection (iReX) project.

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