NO RETURNING TO MANGERE BRIDGE DAYSPrime Minister
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley officially opened Otira Viaduct in Otira today, warning that such projects would inevitably be delayed by union action under Labour's policy to undo the Employment Contracts Act.
"If Labour got their way, projects like this, instead of being on time and under budget, would become another Mangere bride fiasco, with the unions delaying the project by years and costing millions of dollars.
"Let's remember the facts behind the Mangere bridge project. It was supposed to cost $6.8 million dollars and take 36 months. It ended up costing double that, took 9 years and six months to complete and saw a change of contractor and countless days lost and endless disputes. It was a disgraceful display of union domination and ideology replacing common sense and a hard days work for a honest days pay.
"By contrast, construction of this project started in 1997, and has come in on time and under budget with no long industrial disputes.
"The Mangere Bridge debacle is what New Zealanders could expect again with a combination of a Labour-led Government and the new, hardline CTU leadership.
"I warn New Zealanders that this new radical hierarchy are already planning strikes before the election, to teach us all a lesson and to flex their muscles.
"Given that only 10 percent of eligible voters actually belong to a union, it is the height of arrogance for the few to hold the many to ransom in this way.
"With over $55 million lost in wages in the last year of union domination, compared with under $2 million lost in 1998, under the ECA, New Zealanders have a very clear choice at this election. See worthwhile projects like the Otira Viaduct completed on time and under budget, or go back to the Mangere Bridge days, the Picton ferry strikes at Christmas and the BNZ tower fiasco.
"That is what is waiting around the corner to ambush New Zealanders unless we stick to the path we are on.
"Industrial disputes are way down and we have created more than 280,000 new jobs under the ECA - and there has been an increase in real wages. So workers have benefited, and so has the New Zealand economy.
"The robust New Zealand economy and the industrial relations legislation, has allowed New Zealand to make real progress and I am proud of everyone involved.
"It would be plain madness to return to the bad old days of union domination. The choice is in the hands of us all," Mrs Shipley said.
Contact: Simon King 04 4719 731
* Planning began in the 1980's as part of a long-term strategy for improvements to State Highway 73 through the Arthur's Pass National Park
* 440 metres long
* Gradient 11.7%
* 5000m³ of concrete in the structure.
* The 134 metre spans are the longest post-tensioned concrete box girder construction yet undertaken in this country.
* Foundations, designed to resist the action of earthquake and scour. 25 metre deep in very hard river gravels
* Message signs to warn of icing and wind on the bridge