Simon Bridges

Another accord? How did the last one go?

This could be Simon Bridges moment. Or his epic failure.

The Government and Auckland Council are looking to negotiate a formal accord to make progress on Auckland’s transport plans and secure some certainty on the city’s most contentious and expensive issues.

The agreement is in the mould of the housing accord signed in 2013, which aimed to rapidly increase housing supply, and it could pave the way for more central government funding for transport projects.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown wrote to Transport Minister Simon Bridges this year to request an Auckland Transport Accord.

Mr Bridges and Finance Minister Bill English are now writing terms of reference for the proposed agreement.

Before it can be signed, the Government wants the council to agree on the mix of transport projects in the city’s long-term plan and their impact on congestion. At present, the two parties differ on the best ways to reduce congestion around the city.

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Bridges blows up Len’s dream: prefers buses, not trains

bridges

Transport Minister Simon Bridges favours more bus lanes in Auckland over plans for a rail link to the airport.

He wants “more smaller-scale projects that actually deal with congestion”.

The Government and Auckland Council have been at odds over funding of both infrastructure and housing in Auckland, and the issues gained prominence last week when the council voted on a 10-year Budget. Read more »

After Key. Then what?

When the media regularly speculate about what is to happen after you’re gone, it is an indicator that you are in the autumn of your political career.   Audrey Young assists the process along.

The ponytail saga might have confirmed Mr Key’s infallibility to his hero-worshippers, but it has made talk of his succession a little more relevant.

As was evident in his biography, John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister, his threshold for tolerating failure is low.

In 2012, after a difficult but not disastrous year, he talked to wife Bronagh about whether he was still committed to remaining in the job.

And she was stronger than him about staying on and not be seen to be ”running away”, as he put it.

He has said he will stand again in 2017 because that is what leaders have to say until they change their minds.

But nobody would be shocked if Mr Key changed his mind if his popularity waned, given that his popularity sustains his political drive.

If it happened, it would not happen soon because he would want to recover his respect rather than slink away.

There is no suggestion of a leadership challenge.

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Bridges on Trains

The government wants to work out an agreed transport plan for Auckland over the next 12 months.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says he sees “reasonably significant differences” between the council’s long-term plan and what the government wants to achieve.

“We just don’t think the mayor’s preferred plan is effective or value for money,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I want to engage as seriously as I can with the mayor and the council over the next year or so to see if we can come up with a plan that the government is more satisfied with.”

Mayor Len Brown is proposing adding an interim transport tax to property rates so that work can start on the 10-year, $10.3 billion plan.

It would add an average $99 to rates bills. Read more »

How much does Northland care about roads?

More roads could be on the way for Northland, as National pours extra resources into the by-election.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges is expected to reveal more on plans for the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway today.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters believes he has forced National’s hand, but Mr Bridges says the plans were already in motion.

“I think this one of the beautiful old Winston tricks is that you’ve been neglecting that, you haven’t had this, you haven’t had that – well actually if you look at the figures, we’ve spent $750 million there in Northland since 2008,” says Mr Bridges.

You have to love Winston.  He’s setting the agenda every day, and the Government is constantly on the back foot refuting the old fox’s statements.

I truly doubt that Northland votes are going to be pivotal on the amount of money National will commit over and above the plans already in place for roads.   Read more »

Bridges, pork barrels and Winston’s new found interest in the North

The by-election is well underway and Winston Peters has professed an undying love for the north, except his party hasn’t stood a candidate there for three elections, and he used to be real happy being the MP for Tauranga, which is hardly in the North.

Meanwhile the National party has rolled out the pork barrels.

Prime Minister John Key is unapologetic about rolling out multi-million-dollar promises during the Northland byelection and says more is to come as rivals claim it is simply pork barrelling to try to hold on to the seat.

In a clear bid to outflank NZ First leader Winston Peters, National’s candidate Mark Osborne and Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday announced a $69 million upgrade to 10 of the 15 one-way bridges on Northland state highways. The announcement followed two polls showing National could struggle to hold the seat against Mr Peters.

Labour leader Andrew Little described it as desperate pork barrelling. Mr Peters said his entry to the race had clearly been effective at pushing National into action, but Northlanders would not fall for such a blatant and belated bribe.

Little can talk, his promises are likely to be even bigger, but I await with interest any sign that Labour wants to spend on roads. After a decade of calling State Highway One the “Holiday Highway” any improvement on roading will be a welcome change.    Read more »

Simon Bridges wants more people driving gay cars

It is bad enough that Craig Foss has gotten himself a new gay ute, but now Simon Bridges wants us to drive cars gayer than Fossy’s gay ute.

I mean seriously? Expensive, over priced, non-Green, electric cars?

The only good news is he doesn’t support subsidies.

Transport and Energy Minister Simon Bridges has officials investigating ways to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.

But he doesn’t favour incentives or subsidies in what he says is “the most EV-ready country in the world” because of New Zealand’s very high proportion of electricity generated from renewable resources.   Read more »

Bridges Boo Boos

Sometimes it’s better just to shut up.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says he’s warned petrol companies he’s watching how much profit they are taking at the pump.

But rather than say ‘yes minister’, one company has told the Government to check its facts because they’re wrong.

When oil prices dropped late last year Mr Bridges thought petrol company margins didn’t follow fast enough, and he was outspoken with his disapproval.

“What is clear – they got too high.”

The price of a litre includes the cost of the fuel, taxes, shipping and GST, while the remaining 18 percent goes to the company.

The Government says companies make roughly 30 cents per litre, but fuel company Z’s CEO Mike Bennetts says it only make about 19 cents at the pump. Read more »

The coming selection in Northland

The predictable demise of Northland MP Mike Sabin means a very blue seat is up for selection.

The majority is 9300, and Labour’s candidate, Willow-Jean Prime, has just had a baby, so is not expected to run again.

When Sabin won in 2011 there was considerable interest in the selection, with a good number of candidates putting their names forward. Some of these are expected to be contenders again.

Grant McCullum: Long time National Board member and perceived front runner in the last selection. Withdrew due to issues with a tricky missus. Inside word is she has just got more tricky over the years so McCullum will struggle to get approval to run.   Read more »

Stuart Nash on the Boagan’s plans to nick the AECT trust

Stuart Nash has written a piece on Michelle Boag’s plans to nick the AECT funds to gift to Len Brown for his train set.

It is on a little read hate speech blog run by Wrongly Wrongson, the blogger formerly known as Martyn Martin Bradbury, and so deserves wider attention.

Move forward to 2014, and John Collinge is at it once again.  Collinge, backed by another former National party president Michelle Boag, and helped by Auckland EMA CEO Kim Campbell, is trying to gather support for a scheme that would steal the shares off the people of Auckland for good.

Their miserable plan, as I have been led to believe, involves pressuring the National government to introduce legislation that would allow the shares, worth around $2.1b, to be nationalised, and then gifted back to the Auckland City Council for them to sell – to the people of Auckland and overseas buyers.

Let’s put this into perspective.  This year the AECT returned a $335 dividend to all shareholders (75.1% of whom are the people of Auckland). This is a most welcome bonus to many who are currently struggling with the extremely high costs of living in Auckland.

Vector is an incredibly progressive and innovative company and so this dividend is only going to grow.  Why sell it?  This is about ideology – and a massive disconnect by some wealthy individuals who simply have absolutely no idea at all how important $335 is to a huge number of Auckland families.  Read more »