Soper rates Bridges’ first day, turns out his second and third days were the same

Barry Soper rates Simon Bridges’ first day on the job:

It’s been called a political slush fund, a billion bucks a year over the next three years to give a shot in the arm to the regions.

The custodian of the cash is Shane Jones, who has the responsibility of doling a dollop here and a sweetener there. It’s no accident that this fund is in the hands of New Zealand First – and it was certainly no accident that Northland got the biggest handout last week: $17 million to help create jobs in the seat that Winston Peters lost last year (and where the Whangarei seat that Jones is after).

Few would argue that the regions could do with a hand-up but the danger here, with so much of our money at stake, is that it doesn’t become a corporate welfare fund.

Now the idea of turning the country’s rubbish into energy on the job-deprived West Coast sounds great so a company called Renew Energy was in for a slice of the action and was allocated $350,000 for a feasibility study to put its plan into action.

Trouble is one of the company’s directors, Gerald Gallagher, is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for allegedly using his former position on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority for financial gain – so the grant’s been put on soak and hold.

National’s new leader Simon Bridges made great play of it in Parliament, which less than 24 hours into his job, was a big mistake.

Bridges was asked on his way into Parliament’s bear pit whether as Regional Development Minister he’d ever given the company money.

He was adamant he hadn’t – but then he did remember the company putting its hand out. It was investigated, Bridges proudly proclaimed, but it was rejected after a “bunch of concerns” were raised and they didn’t feel the economic case stacked up anyway.

As to the Ardern Government, well he said they didn’t make the appropriate checks to ensure the taxpayers’ money was being spent wisely.

Yeah well when it comes to wisdom, Bridges was left gulping when Jones produced evidence that under his watch around $45,000, in two tranches, was paid to the company for the same feasibility study.

Not a good first day for the leader of the new generation Nats – but then neither was it a good one for Jones.

Both are now sponging the egg off their faces. It was also bad for the taxpayer – but could have been much worse if it wasn’t brought to Jones’ attention by the media.

Bridges’ fatal error was to ask questions to which he didn’t know the answer. You’d think that as a lawyer and police prosecutor he would have known that.

He walked himself into his own ambush.

His second and third days on the job were equally inept. His job is to hold the government, and especially Jacinda Ardern, to account. The problem is that Jacinda Ardern easily monstered him in question time.

He will have to improve really fast or he will get shanked.


-NZ Herald

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.