The National Party turned out in force last night for the launch of ‘independent’ Victoria Crone’s Auckland mayoral campaign – and she dug deep into the government’s playbook to announce a new policy on a second harbour crossing.
But missing from the launch was John Key who has maintained a refusal to endorse Crone arguing that as Prime Minister he will have to work with whoever wins the Mayoral race.
That approach has drawn criticism and last night looked like Crone had finally got the formal approval of the National Party.
She was Introduced by National MPs Mark Mitchell and Alfred Ngaro and with a video exhortation from former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Crone’s big night was an emphatic coming together of the centre-right.
Speakers from both the Communities and Residents (C&R) and Auckland Future blocs spoke in her favour. Government ministers Nikki Kaye, Maggie Barry and Paul Goldsmith were joined in the 130 strong crowd by National Party president Peter Goodfellow, the current Auckland regional chair, Andrew Hunt and the two immediate past chairs Alastair Bell and Alan Towers.
Crone’s launch announcement of bringing forward $150m of council funding to put a second harbour crossing on the fast-track by 2020 was applauded by Nats in attendance, including North Shore MP Barry.
Endorsed by The Nation’s Favourite Grandmother, no less.
“This is another building block to how we create a world-class city.” A rapid transit public rail corridor would be investigated as part of the new crossing. “If the government agreed to that timeframe, we as a council will agree to another $600m to integrate a public [transport] component into the second harbour crossing.”
The centre-right have plainly identified the North Shore as rich ground for Crone – in the 1970s and 1980s Rob Muldoon used the harbour bridge tolls and their eventual removal to manipulate support for the government in Shore electorates.
It is also the kind of headline-grabber with a vaguely defined dollar value and arbitrary timeframe which the government drags from its deep political pocket when polling shows public focus is too concentrated on policy failings elsewhere.
Crone dug deep into the government’s coffers to get at taxpayer money. She can’t announce a $150m Harbour Bridge extension without the help of the government of the day. The Harbour Bridge is owned and operated by the NZTA, a Crown entity and nothing to do with Auckland Council. Why she would heave $150m of rate payer money into it, making those people pay twice as tax payers and rate payers, seems to have no political upside.
Vic Crone has been dead in the water from the beginning. For National to be so disingenuous about her being independent as well as National as a party not getting involved in local body politics, well, people don’t like being lied to. Call a spade a spade.
National ministers should be reading the tea leaves and running away at high speed, instead they care cuddling a smelly political corpse. And we all know what happens next.
And Crone played up her links to the National-led government. “I have been building on my existing relationships with the government and how do we partner together. I worry about a 30-year politician who has been boxing out of the red ring….”
and how do we partner together… looking for synergies and positive outcome mutuality, no doubt.
Crone is making multi billion dollar promises to spend government money she doesn’t have and neither does the government. On top of the multi billions yet to be spent on the rail loop. All funded with a maximum 3% rates increase.
And don’t forget she wants to move the port too. Don’t you wonder where that $6b comes from within a 3% rates increase? The whole thing is a load of crap. Supported by idiots. And somehow they are hugging this political corpse like a Weekend at Bernies.
With three weeks to go before three weeks of postal voting opens, the right’s anointed one declared: “This thing is winnable. Let’s not let a leader from yesterday cruise into the mayoralty of Auckland.”
Winnable? Anything is possible. She’s already 7% ahead of Penny Bright!
– Richard Harman, Politik