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Cut the Pork Barrel Politics in Northland

6 March 2017

Transport Minister Cut the Pork Barrel Politics in Northland it's a Bridge too Far

Transport & Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges needs to show the people of Whangarei/Northland some long overdue respect. Jetting in here last Friday sweet talking up a four lane highway South of Whangarei between Oakleigh and Port Marsden, at some vague future timeframe and estimated cost of between $400 to $500 million dollars is mere electioneering, a political stunt.

We saw similar antic's from National prior to their routing by NZFirst leader Winston Peters during the Northland by-election. Incidentally, Northlanders are still waiting for them to come good and get cracking on the rest of those 10 bridges offerings, served up in that pork barrel ladened campaign.

While the Minister waxed lyrical to a gleeful Whangarei Mayor about economic development opportunities, did he explain the detail? The devil is always in the detail, like the thick end of the wedge sees a Spanish multinational corporation, clouded by corruption allegations in Europe is the preferred bidder for the new toll motorway between Warkworth and Puhoi. So with this latest announcement potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money goes sailing off to Spain rather than circulate locally stimulating Northlands economy.

Under the National Government's open flood gate migration policy will there be many, if any jobs for the locals? We already have a large logging truck operator in Whangarei housing migrants in a shanty town at his depot, more than likely because rental properties are at a premium. Will this become the new normal should foreign workers flock in to do the work?

If the roadworks on the North side of the Brynderwyn Hills is any indication, where the budget has been over blown by $3 million prior to its projected completion date of November last year, and it is still not finished. At how much more cost one has to ask?

Spare a thought for the residents of Otaika Valley road close to Oakleigh, who last year were frustrated and angry, some threatening to block the narrow winding road to logging trucks after a spate of roll overs if action wasn't taken. And still they wait.

For the Transport Minister to say "The announcement was not bad news for rail in Northland, but there needed to be stronger demand for rail services in the region before any major investment was made on upgrading rail lines."

Well Minister if you had bothered to attend a public forum on Rail in Northland last year, rather than send your first term Whangarei MP Shane Reti, you would have heard a local saw mill operator say "The rot started 10 years ago when the deep water port was moved to Marsden without any requirement for a rail link." His company supplies close to 500 tonnes of wood chips and sawn timber to national and international markets daily, and rail would be an option if the Marsden link was there.

The last word to heed with an election looming goes to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who says "His party would reinvigorate rail freight and lines and build a link to Northport to handle Auckland freight, the neglect of rail around New Zealand has become a national disgrace. We must restore such state assets and stimulate the economy in the regions."


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