Simon Bridges

If only Simon Bridges could boast of a record like Scott Walker’s

Simon Bridges is touted as a future leader of the National party. But what are his credentials?

At the moment it appears that his sole qualification is that he looks charming.

If, however he could match Scott Walker’s achievements, especially in destroying unions, then he might have a chance.

The source of Walker’s appeal—his singular calling card, in fact—is not hard to identify. In 2011, the governor signed legislation stripping most of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their rights to collective bargaining and to require dues from members, essentially busting those unions. He went on to survive a bitter 2012 recall effort backed by national unions and to win reelection in 2014 in a state Barack Obama won in 2012. He then signed “right-to-work” legislation that massively undercut the state’s dwindling private-sector unions, too. In his twenty-minute CPAC speech, Walker referred to his battles with labor six times directly and as many times indirectly. It is the core of his message.

Scott Walker has been extremely successful at union busting.

In his CPAC speech and subsequent ones, Walker likened his clash with Wisconsin’s public-sector unions to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 firing of 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, thus presenting himself as a rightful heir of the party’s patron saint. He extended that connection to foreign policy. A few days after his CPAC speech, Walker told a Palm Beach Club for Growth audience that Reagan’s firing of the controllers was “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” because “it sent a message around the world [that] we weren’t to be messed with.” Walker’s similar toughness under fire with the unions, in other words, makes him ready to be commander in chief. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters,” he told the crowd at CPAC, “I can do the same across the world.” The mainstream press treated such comparisons as bumbling efforts to cover the fact that, as a governor and former county executive, he has scant foreign policy experience. But conservative audiences loved the show of resolution. Walker wants tough strength to be his calling card; his campaign book is called, not coincidentally, Unintimidated.

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Simon tells Northland to build a bridge and get over it…oh wait

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A bridge was the undoing of Ted Kennedy at Chapaquiddick, Simon Bridges’ problems are far worse politically than a dead girl in the car.

National is giving Northland the middle finger for dumping them during the by-election.

National has no money for the bridges and is hoping the NZTA will help out…but unless they can magic up some deaths or safety issues quick smart those bridges are not going to be built this century.

Only four of the 10 bridges the Government promised to double-lane in Northland will be worked on in the next three years – and some may never be upgraded.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced a $13.9 billion plan for spending on roads and public transport across the country over the next three years.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges promised the bridge upgrades during the Northland by-election earlier this year and said the work would be done over six years.

He said today that NZTA had ruled out double-laning three of the bridges.

Those bridges are Hallahans Bridge, Lowes Bridge, and Darby and Joan Bridge, which is between two large kauri trees and which the agency says cannot be double-laned.

Mr Bridges said he was not breaking his by-election promise.

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After vast amounts of expensive public consultation on alternative funding tools, this is what Len Brown got from the Crown

After vast amounts of expensive public consultation on alternative funding tools, like motorway tolls, this is what Len Brown got from the Crown

Letter From Hon Simon Bridges and Hon Bill English to Len Brown

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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

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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 »