Simon Bridges – electoral success

New National party leader Simon Bridges has proven himself in the Tauranga electorate if you look back at results since MMP:

  • 1996 – Winston Peters 8,028 vote majority over National’s Katherine O’Regan
  • 1999 – Winston Peters 63 vote majority over National’s Katherine O’Regan
  • 2002 – Winston Peters 10,362  vote majority over Labour’s Margaret Wilson
  • 2005 – National’s Bob Clarkson 730  vote majority over Winston Peters
  • 2008 – Simon Bridges 11,742 vote majority over Winston Peters (NZ First crashed out of Parliament)
  • 2011 – Simon Bridges 17,264  vote majority over Labour’s Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
  • 2014 – Simon Bridges 14,842 vote majority over Labour’s Rachel Jones
  • 2017 – Simon Bridges 11,252 vote majority over Labour’s Jan Tineti

Bridges’ majority jumped and then dropped over the last two elections but is still healthy – and has always been better than Peters’ largest majority.

Having thumped Peters in 2008 may give him a bit of a psychological boost in a battle Bridges will have to take to the old campaigner when he is acting Prime Minister in a couple of months.

 

The Nation: Simon Bridges

Lisa Own will interview Minister of Transport Simon Bridges on The Nation this morning “about Auckland’s traffic woes and whether the right projects are being funded”.

It’s likely this subject will also come up:  Rail proposal that Minister’s office tried to block released

Kiwirail has publicly released the proposal for a new Auckland railway line which the Transport Minister Simon Bridges wanted to be kept secret.

New Zealand First released a series of emails last week showing Mr Bridges’ office had urged Kiwirail not to release the business case for the rail line, saying the prospect made it “extremely uncomfortable”.

The emails showed Kiwirail had planned to release the document in full, but many parts of the business case released today have now been redacted – including its benefit to cost ratio.

Following the release of the emails between Minister Bridges’ office and Kiwirail, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier wrote to Prime Minister Bill English seeking an assurance ministers were not flouting the law when dealing with requests for official information.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has now requested the Chief Ombudsman to formally investigate the matter.

Mr Bridges said he was not aware of the business case or what his officials were doing, but he argued they had every right to be contesting the release of the information.

He said parts of the Third Main business case were “materially wrong”.

Delays, manipulation and flaunting  of the Official Information Act by Ministers is a growing issue, and helps reinforce perceptions of third term arrogance.

Also from RNZ: Ombudsman urges ministers to follow OIA rules

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has written a letter to Prime Minister Bill English after the Transport Minister’s office tried to stop KiwiRail from releasing a report.

He said such incidents risked eroding public confidence in the government and democracy.

It can also erode support in a Government.

Simon Bridges became an MP when National came to power in 2008, beating Winston Peters in the Tauranga electorate, so has always been in government.He hasn’t experienced what it is like seeking information as an opposition MP.

He stood for deputy leadership of National after John Key stepped down and Bill English took over the party, but withdrew when it became clear Paula Bennett had the numbers.

It will be interesting to see how he comes across this morning.


Bridges says he feels confident about the Govt’s contribution to Auckland’s infrastructure.

Bridges says selling assets to fund infrastructure is a decision for Auckland Council to make.

“As we do more, of course we want to see the Council do more as well”

I don’t know whether it’s bridges or Auckland traffic but I can understand why most people are not interested in politics.

The interview finishes on the OIA – and Bridges waffles around “the substance of what we are talking about here”.

He claims that he and his office were entitled to their opinion and disagree with the business case that they were not allowing to be published, or something.

Good governments should always support as much transparency as possible, and they shouldn’t try to manage and manipulate official information.

 

 

 

Labour attack ‘brainless sheep’

How not to build your voter base – over the past ten years Labour have lost a lot of voters, many of whom have voted National.  To rebuild their support they need to attract many of those voters to come back to Labour. Saying things like this is hardly going to help – from Labour Tauranga:

It’s easier to control people who have no money you see, they have less choices.

Blame everyone you know that votes National.

How anyone can think that a government who is intent on destroying the country and selling it to anyone who’ll buy are worth the air in their lungs amazes us! Brainless sheep.

I’ve seen this sort of thing said from anonymous commenters on blogs like The Standard but it’s a different matter coming from an official looking Labour source:

In detail:

labourtaurangabrainlesssheep

This was probably just one person from Labour in Tauranga demonstrating what a brainless sheep they are  (even though they referred to plural in “How anyone can think that a government who is intent on destroying the country and selling it to anyone who’ll buy are worth the air in their lungs amazes us!”), but it doesn’t look good for the party.

 

Disturbing handling of child assault case

Police have admitted ‘mishandling’ a case of assault involving a father (a “prominent Tauranga professional involved in charity work”) and his eleven year old son, but the sequence of events is disturbing.

Stuff report Police mishandle assault on 11-year-old.

The boy told police that after a dispute over a phone in November, 2012, his father slammed his head twice on to the concrete floor of their garage, dragged him up some stairs, banged him against the walls, dragged him across the lounge floor, sat him down and slammed his head on to the kitchen table.

He ran from the address, went to his grandmother’s house and was taken to Tauranga Hospital with bruising to his neck and arms and swelling and bruising to his head.

He also complained of headaches and sore eyes and according to his mother, still suffers headaches, nausea and fatigue.

But the handling of the case included:

  • Police failed to return the boy’s mother’s phone calls.
  • Police failed to keep the mother and her son informed of the fact they were reducing the charge against the offender.
    The offender was originally charged with assault on a child but police did a plea bargain and reduced the charge to common assault.
  • A senior officer admitted police had watered down the summary of facts.
    Police admit their summary of facts presented in court, which talked about the victim “falling over a suitcase” as his father “marched him to the dining room . . . to join the rest of the family for the evening meal . . . did not reflect the full seriousness of the assault”.
  • The father pleaded guilty last year and was discharged without conviction.

So police kept diminishing the case to the extent that the man got off without a conviction with permanent name suppression. And it didn’t end there.

Police further enraged the boy’s mother last week when Loper said in a statement to the Sunday Star-Times that the charge was reduced because police believed there was no prospect of a conviction on the original charge due to a lack of “evidential sufficiency”.

“I’m shocked and disbelieving,” said the mother. “In the time they sat with me they never once said lack of evidence was why they downgraded the charge.

“They said it was to protect my son from going to trial. He wanted to go to trial and to tell the judge what happened to him. His words were ‘apparently I’m just a child and what I say doesn’t matter’.”

Lopez told the Star-Times:

“Police take all assaults on children extremely seriously and this was no exception”.

There seem to be disturbing exceptions to dealing with this assault seriously from the victim’s point of view. But the ‘reputation’ of the man who assaulted the boy was taken seriously.

Judge Josephine Bouchier permanently suppressed his name, after his Queen’s Counsel argued that convicting and naming him would damage his reputation and affect his charity work.

That’s not the end of it.

The offender has subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of breaching protection and parenting orders by making unauthorised contact with his son. He will be sentenced in the Auckland District Court later this month.

The timing of this isn’t clear but it must mean either the assault occurred while breaching a protection order, or more likely after the assault a protection order was put in place and the father has breached it.

Whichever it was surely that’s reasonable grounds for beefing up rather than watering down the assault charges.

Instead a man who allegedly bashed his son’s head into a concrete floor and a table – the boy received verified head injuries – was able to get off the assault charge.

Loper said in his apology letter that Turner would make time to meet the victim, now 13, and explain the decision to change the charge was “based on securing an acknowledgement of guilt only and was not reflective of the content of [the victim’s] interview.”

An acknowledgement of guilt was secured which led to the man securing permanent name suppression and securing a discharge without conviction.

Justice and the boy seem to have been very poorly served.