Andrew Geddis lays out the facts on National’s blatant Northland by-election bribe:
Maybe the motivations behind this announcement are cynical at best, but at least something good will come out of it. Northland will get a bunch of new bridges to deliver safer roads and help fix its transport problems.
That would be true … but only if it were true that these bridges really are a desperately needed bit of infrastructure. And there’s very good reason to doubt that this is the case.
And in [Northland Regional Council’s Regional Land Transport Plan], only three of the ten bridges that the Government has now committed to funding are even mentioned as possible projects: Matakohe Bridge, Kaeo Bridge and Taipa Bridge. The other seven appear to be so far down the list of possible projects that the Regional Council doesn’t bother putting them up for consideration in the plan.
But we mustn’t leap to conclusions, even though as Geddis points out it’s extremely unusual for a mere candidate – technically a private citizen – to be making multi-million-dollar Government funding announcements. And Simon Bridges (make your own joke) has been refreshingly honest about the fact this funding is a direct consequence of the by-election.
Geddis leaves us with some food for thought:
Imagine that this didn’t happen in good old clean New Zealand, with its number two ranking in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index. Imagine instead it happened in, I don’t know … New Jersey. Or Hungary. Or Venezuela.
What would you call it then?
To which I can only say: don’t give them ideas, Andrew! Next thing you know the National campaign team will be googling “New Jersey” and “bridges” and then we’ll have some convenient lane closures on by-election day …