The Dom-Post asks a question this morning; here's the headline:
We can provide an answer. It's not New Zealand's most expensive train set; not by a long shot. That rather dubious honour goes to Sir Michael Cullen, who spent far too much reacquiring Kiwirail from Toll Holdings in 2008 as this 2009 story from Stuff reports:
The final valuation of KiwiRail was $369 million – more than half the price the Government paid for it.The Labour government bought TranzRail from Toll on July 1 last year for $690m. A provisional valuation in the government financial statements in September 2008 put the value at $442m.Today Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the final valuation by PriceWaterhouseCoopers was $388.29m.A Treasury report said a fair value for KiwiRail at the purchase date would have been $369.54m."This results in a final financial loss on acquisition of Toll NZ Ltd of $320m," the report said.In Parliament Mr Joyce said a further $210m was spent on loans and $90m on operational subsidies."It's quite obvious to anyone looking at this transaction that the previous government significantly overpaid for KiwiRail and paying that much handicaps its future," he said.The public was not told about the large financial burden including the backlog of needed expenditure before the purchase was made, he said.
Is it any wonder that one of Toll's senior executives is reported to have said at the time of the deal that "You only get one Helen Clark come along in your lifetime"? Couple that with the ongoing costs of running Kiwirail and the writedown of assets that will add $1.8b to this year's deficit, and you'd almost start to believe that Sir Michael had handed the likely incoming National-led government a poisoned chalice.