Yesterday, faced with losing the Northland byelection and their easy majority with it, National resorted to outright pork-barrelling and promised to upgrade ten bridges in Northland. Andrew Geddis has a great analysis of the actual need for this (very little), and basically calls it corruption. I wouldn't go that far - corruption benefits donors and cronies, not voters - but its certainly the sort of pork-barrel politics you see in the US. And its nakedly so. This morning, when asked about the timing of the decision, John Key said it was planned before the election but delayed by Kim Dotcom and Nicky Hager (yes, really). But this afternoon, Transport Minister Simon Bridges gave a more honest answer: on Friday:
Simon Bridges made the decision for $69 million "bridge bribe" for Northland on Friday. #porkbarrel— Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) March 10, 2015
So, the day after that shock poll then.
No matter who you support, this is appalling governance. Who gets roads and other public services should be decided on need, not on whether the government is in danger of being embarrassed in a by-election. And such decisions should be made after appropriate cost-benefit analysis, not on a whim by the PM's electoral strategy team. But clearly, National doesn't care about any of that, and can't even be bothered pretending any more.