Peters, King spar to show Northland their party cares
The fight by the National Party to regain Northland from NZ First leader Winston Peters saw a tit-for-tat over promises made and kept at a candidates’ meeting yesterday.
National candidate Matt King attempted to show Northland how much the party now cared — and Winston Peters told everyone that simply wasn’t true.
With a week to go, Peters is fighting to retain his hold on the seat secured in the 2015 byelection which saw government ministers touring the re- gion with promises of investment.
Chief among those was the promise to replace 10 one-way bridges with double-lane bridges — a pledge which has since dogged the Government.
“I get asked everywhere I go, where are those 10 bridges?” King told about 200 people at the Frontline Christian Church in Kerikeri. “Three of them start this summer and (the bridge at) Kaeo will follow.”
King rattled through 13 new cell towers, $14m spent on Northland College, $10m on the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa and a motorway from Auckland to Whangarei in the works.
And there were other investments — ultrafast broadband and 19 per cent more police which was beyond the 10 per cent national increase.
“We as National have got to do better in Northland,” he said. “I want to tell you that the message has been received loud and clear in Wellington.”
Peters was having none of it. “They had forgotten you. All of a sudden since March 2015, they discovered you like Columbus discovered America — purely by accident.”
Where King focused on the bridges that were being built, Peters named those not in planning stages.
Peters said “you can’t see one metre” of the new highway plans to Whangarei while Northland roads needed serious repair.
“But they will never forget you if you make a statement at this election which says, ‘we want these promises kept, we want Northland to get what it is entitled to’.”
The meeting also heard from the Greens’ Peter Hughes, Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime and Maki Herbert, the Te Tai Tokerau candidate from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.