Larry Williams disgusted with National

The Government has coughed up $350,000 to get Awaroa Beach into public ownership. Nearly 40,000 New Zealanders contributed to the nearly $2.3 million dollar price tag, but it seems the Government cash got the purchase over the line.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says they now need to set up a trust to hold the land until it can be gazetted as part of Abel Tasman National Park.

The Government supported the bid with what they say is a “modest” contribution – but $350,000 is hardly “modest”.

Last night when negotiations got “tricky” the Government upped its contribution. This looks like code for the public tender not being the highest tender.

At the eleventh hour, the Government stepped in to match the highest tender to secure the property.

I don’t like the smell of this tender process. It also has a stench around the Government’s motives. It was straight out populist politics when they had no interest in that hunk of sand and scrub at the outset. Being seen to contribute and save the high profile campaign was for the Government “good for business”.

Remember, the Government was given the opportunity to buy the property early on and declined. The Department of Conservation said “the property, which had 800 metres of beach and seven hectares of scrub, did no offer the ecological and biodiversity values that would justify the $2m asking price”.

It’s a bit of a selective moment to be upset with the government for being populist.  They have been stealing opposition policies, watering them down a bit and taking them on as their own.  At the same time, when sensing serious resistance, they back off their own policies.

National had signaled earlier on that they were going to top things up. This hardly came as a surprise. It’s money well spent. DOC didn’t want it, but National can now point to its Blue/Green roots and out-green the Greens.

And let’s not forget: without the Government, the public campaign would have failed.

Surely this is better politics than hugging criminals?

But, when you hear the news that Andrew Little donated $250 out of his $281,881 salary you can see the funny side as the government gazumps his planned good publicity with taxpayer cash…the funny side and the disappointed side.

 

– Larry Williams, NewstalkZB


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