Winston Peters: Aratere is a disaster waiting to happen


By Winston Peters

On Tuesday night, the passengers on the ferry Aratere were told that a shaft had snapped and a propeller had been lost on the sailing from Picton to Wellington. Thankfully, the ferry was able to make it back to Wellington safely, but this is just the latest issue in a long history of incidents and failures with the Aratere.

The Aratere was brought into service in 1998. In 2011, it was sent against sound advice to Singapore to be lengthened by 30 metres. This was supposed to enable it to carry more freight and more passengers – really, it was to make more money for KiwiRail and the Government.

New Zealand First warned that the Aratere was a problem back in October 2011. In March this year, we again warned of problems. The list of problems include:

• The ship bending along the keel when shorter railway wagons were loaded
• The toilets not working properly
• The freight capacity for trucks being reduced
• The ship breaking down within a few days of arriving back into service
• The engines not being powerful enough to drive the ship through heavy seas because of the extra weight and length
• An infestation of rats
• The ship flexing because of problems with the doors
• Stabaliser, ballast and radar problems
• And then there’s the thousands of litres of fuel that were ‘lost’ somewhere

We suggested over two years ago that the Minister get off his backside and walk to the wharf and talk to the people down there. Nothing. No action – thinking that if we don’t talk about the problem then it might go away.

We suggested, over two years ago, that the Minister get off his backside and walk to the wharf and talk to the On Tuesday night a shaft snapped and a propeller was lost. We’re now informed that it could take up to 12 months for an inquiry to be completed, but in the meantime the ship could potentially be used to carry freight across the strait. Never mind the crew and their safety – it’s all about profit.

New Zealand First has repeatedly warned the Government that the Aratere is a disaster waiting to happen. The ship is a lemon. It’s time for someone to be held accountable for these incredible botch ups which have placed lives at risk and caused huge expense.

source: data archive