Peters, King spar to show North­land their party cares

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - David Fisher

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.

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