FUG agreed to support and head a petition organised by Waiheke ferry users: “That the House urge the Government to give Explore group ferry service to Waiheke access to the capped SuperGold Card subsidy, and note that 1,559 people have signed a petition on this topic”.
After this petition was presented, we received more than 100 further signatures.
The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee of the New Zealand House of Representatives invited us to make a submission in support, and we have today submitted as follows:
The SuperGold Card scheme was introduced as a political initiative and an announcement that it applied to Waiheke was made days before a general election.
There is a public perception that the Government subsidises the entire costs incurred by the operators to carry SuperGold Card holders. However, the scheme is capped and only some operators get reimbursement for some of the costs that they incur while appearing to fulfil the political promise.
The Ferry Users Group of Waiheke has no position on whether part charges or some other form of cost containment is (courageously) introduced by this or any future Government. We do, however, object to cost containment initiatives which rely on favouring selected providers over their competitors. We believe that Explore is not a ‘new service’; it is a new entrant to an existing service.
Our objection is based on the self-evident premise that any such schemes are inherently anti-competitive. The introduction of competition is of great importance to the ferry users of this Island, as we have no other mode of transport. Competition has already increased the frequency of sailings available and will, in time, result in the cost reductions and service level improvements that invariably obtain in competitive environments.
While we understand the objective of Government to contain costs, we ask the House to urge Government to implement any cost containment initiatives in a transparent and pro-competitive manner.