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Mainfreight founder cuts to the chase

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017

The founder of one of New Zealand's most successful companies is urging politicians to do more to fix the problem of expensive housing and dirty water because "the market" cannot.

In his chairman's statement in Mainfreight's annual report Bruce Plested says the cost of housing in New Zealand is a "very fixable social disgrace".

"The market cannot sort out this problem. Real leadership and intestinal fortitude is needed now."

Mr Plested has commented on wider business and social issues in annual reports in this past and his remarks this year are sparking debate on social media platforms.

He started logistics company Mainfreight in 1978 with modest resources and it grew as transportation in New Zealand was de-regulated, then expanded globally.

In the annual report this year he raises the issue of clean water, noting businesses have been polluters, and a tendency to go for a "a wee bit more" in several areas is damaging the environment.

He says national and local politicians should be committing to solutions before elections.

Mr Plested also reflected on the impact of the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura quake last year, which knocked out the main trunk rail line in the upper South Island and forced trucks to use longer routes as an alternative to damaged State Highway 1.

He says there is now a better understanding of the necessity of an efficient rail system in New Zealand, there has been a revival in coastal shipping and some imports are now arriving directly to Christchurch from offshore, rather than via a city in the North Island.

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