Bridges has doubts over ex­press­way start

Manawatu Guardian - - HOME & GARDEN - By DAVID HAXTON

Na­tional Party leader Si­mon Bridges doubts the O¯ taki to Levin Ex­press­way will hap­pen any­time soon.

He didn’t think the govern­ment would be able to “square it” with other projects, in­clud­ing the ex­pen­sive tram plan in Auck­land.

“I would love to be proven wrong,” he said at a Ka¯ piti Coast Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon at South­ward Car Mu­seum on Thurs­day.

Na­tional would un­der­take the ex­press­way project, he said, be­cause “it makes sense”.

“It’s what works — ba­sic strong road­ing stan­dards and in­fras­truc­ture, like they have in Aussie, the UK, Europe and like we should have in New Zealand.”

More­over, Na­tional would “never re­gret go­ing Welling­ton to north of Levin”.

“This is not Na­tional Party policy, be­cause it would be $15b more than I’ve got at the mo­ment, but we wouldn’t re­gret fun­da­men­tally do­ing a four-lane high­way to Taupo¯ .

“That’s what good wealthy coun­tries should be do­ing — they’re safer, more ef­fi­cient, more pro­duc­tive and it works.

Mr Bridges was heav­ily crit­i­cal of the Bud­get, say­ing there were more taxes, more bor­row­ing, and “in many cases spend­ing less than we were”.

He said not to be­lieve talk about tight con­straints con­sid­er­ing the govern­ment was “awash in money — $35b more over the next four years than we had”. It was a “tax and bor­row Bud­get and a bit flappy” and didn’t have a busi­ness plan for growth.

“Ev­ery­thing we did in govern­ment was about mak­ing the boat go faster, the econ­omy go faster.

“They [the govern­ment] have put sand­bags on that boat and it does slow it down.”

An au­di­ence mem­ber said he’d like to see Mr Bridges “more ver­bose, louder, front foot­ing it, and be­ing out there say­ing sen­si­ble things of course,” to which the MP replied, “It’s a marathon not a sprint”.

“We’ve got time and I’m very com­fort­able with how it’s go­ing.

“I’m very con­fi­dent what you’ll see over time is peo­ple get­ting to know me more, Na­tional stay­ing re­ally pop­u­lar, and us be­ing com­pet­i­tive in 2020.

“Don’t lose heart.”

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