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A Perth company has been contracted to maintain 2800km of New Zealand rail track.
NZ First leader Winston Peters revealed today that KiwiRail had awarded the contract to Belmont-based rail grinding company Speno Rail Maintenance Australia Pty Ltd.
"This is exactly the sort of maintenance work that should be carried out by KiwiRail using New Zealand labour, not by a foreign company that will take its profits offshore," Mr Peters said.
"This backhanded move to use an Australian company over KiwiRail's own staff is insulting."
KiwiRail earlier this month announced it was laying off about 200 employees because it has to cut costs.
Mr Peters said they were told they wouldn't be replaced by contractors, and he questioned Prime Minister John Key in Parliament.
Mr Key said he didn't have details of the contract and it was an operational matter for KiwiRail.
"But it would be against the Closer Economic Relationship to ban an Australian company from doing something in New Zealand," he said.
"And it wouldn't be in New Zealand's interests, because New Zealand companies do an awful lot of work in Australia and we certainly wouldn't want
to get into a tit-for-tat situation on that front."
Speno Australia is a part of the Swiss-based Speno International SA group.
This article first appeared on au.news.yahoo.com
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