25 Aug 2009

NZ opposition pushes for more Tokelau ferry service

8:50 pm on 25 August 2009

The opposition Labour Party in New Zealand is calling on the government to honour the previous Labour government's promises to buy Tokelau a new ferry.

Tokelau's three atolls can only be accessed by sea and the trip takes more than 24 hours while passengers have to sleep on the deck of an aging ferry with limited shelter.

Labour's Foreign Affair's spokesperson, Chris Carter, says the issue is urgent

"What the Labour Party is saying to National is that especially in the light of the ferry disaster in Tonga is that the safety of the Tokelaus is paramount, the locals are saying the ferry is simply unsafe, and I think Ulu Taloa has recently talked about this and we say this money was committed by the Labour government and it should be used to purchase a new boat."

A spokesman for New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says work has been ongoing over a replacement service for Tokelau.

He says the Minister wanted to ensure that all options were explored and the interests of both the people of Tokelau and the taxpayer were kept in mind.