Polity on Northland bridges ‘scandal’

Rob Salmond has been doing a lot of work on OAI requests and writing up the results in a series of posts at Polity. If he turns out to be on target with this then a Simon Bridges risks collapsing.

Polity posts:

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (1 of 3)

The paper trail behind National’s disastrous Ten Bridges bribe in Northland is almost comic in how damning it is of Ministers Bridges and English. Here’s the OIA I got back recently from the New Zealand Transport Agency. (Reply, briefing 1, briefing 2, email 1, email 2, email 3)

In this post I address whether or not getting advice from officials took place, and whether it was allowable for this promise, billed by National as a National Party promise.

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (2 of 3)

Overnight, I have received Simon Bridges’ version of events in relation to his abuse of public officials over the Northland bridge bribe.

Hilariously, he claims that the trail of increasingly panicked emails from NZTA officials about the costs of upgrading single lane bridges in Northland had nothing at all to do with National’s promise one working day later to upgrade several single lane bridges in Northland. I’m serious. That’s his actual story.

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (3 of 3)

Following from my earlier posts, readers may recall that one bridge in particular among National’s awful ten bridges bribe got a lot of stick – the Darby and Joan Kauri Bridge.

First, two-laning that bridge got some stick because it is completely in the middle of nowhere, on a rarely-driven State Highway connecting two very small population centres.

Cabinet Manual section 6.60

Chapter 6 is about pre-election periods. Here’s paragraph 60 of that chapter:

Before and after an election, the incumbent Ministers should ensure that any requests they make for advice or information from their officials is for the purposes of their portfolio responsibilities and not for party political purposes.

Someone should show this paragraph, along with my timeline of the advice Simon Bridges received from NZTA about replacement of single-lane Northland bridges just before his political party announced a policy to replace some single-lane Northland bridges, to John Key.

Looks like he’s got a clear case of a Minister in breach of the Cabinet Manual.

I’ll leave the arguments to those who know more about these things. The politicians are at odds:

NZ Herald: Minister should be sacked over bridge pledge – Labour

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Prime Minister should sack Transport Minister Simon Bridges over claims Mr Bridges broke ministerial rules in developing the Northland byelection bridges pledge.

TVNZ: John Key stands by Simon Bridges after he’s accused of breaching Cabinet guidelines

Prime Minister John Key says he has no plans to take action against Transport Minister Simon Bridges following claims he may have breached Cabinet guidelines by receiving official advice on his by-election bridge upgrade promises prior to their announcement.

The cosiness of two lane bridges

– Sunday Star Times