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Murray McCully needs to come clean over Tokelau ferry debacle

Foreign Minister Murray McCully needs to come clean on why a New Zealand aid-funded vessel intended to service the Tokelau Islands is delayed, over budget and failed its sea trials, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.

“The new ship Mataliki which just arrived in Apia, Samoa has been described as a ‘fiasco’ by shipping insiders.

“The boat was supposed to cost $8 million and be delivered a year ago. Instead it’s only just arrived and is reported to have blown its budget.

“More seriously, the ship failed its original sea trials. It has reportedly been built over its designed weight, meaning it will not be able to carry the tonnage it was built for. It will also not travel to Niue as it was originally intended. International industry sources have described the Mataliki as ‘a dog’ and suggested it will be lucky to last six years in the tropics servicing the Tokelau Islands.

“Currently a Samoan vessel, the Fasefula will need to also travel to Tokelau at more than $10,000 per day plus fuel, to make up the shortfall.

“Murray McCully awarded the contract to build the Mataliki to a company in Bangladesh, overlooking a bid for it to be built in New Zealand by local boat builders. This is typical of an increasingly arrogant and out-of-touch Government who should back Kiwi businesses.

“So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very reluctant to release details, despite the amount of taxpayer money used, and is refusing to release documents under the official information Act.

“That’s why Murray McCully needs to come clean. Taxpayers who fund our aid programme have the right to know what their money is being spent on and whether it’s been spent wisely,” David Shearer says.