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Northland Bribe-O-Meter

While the by-election is a show-down in Northland, the cost of politicians’ pork-barrel politics will impact upon the pockets of all New Zealand taxpayers

Northland Bribe-O-Meter banner

Today we are proud to relaunch our election Bribe-O-Meter to keep track of the pork-barrel promises being announced on the Northland campaign trail. The Bribe-O-Meter was introduced in the 2014 General Election as a way for taxpayers to gauge what parties were promising, and how much those promises were going to cost taxpayers.

It hotly contested elections, politicians will be quick to pull out the taxpayer-chequebook. This projects endeavours to ensure that taxpayers know what their candidates want to spend, and how it’s going to affect taxpayers throughout the country. Upon the launch of the Bribe-O-Meter – Northland Edition, the leading candidates have already made some big ticket announcements.

The National Party’s promises currently total $28.37 per New Zealand household, while our estimates of announced New Zealand First policies comes to over $180 per household.


 Over the flip is a breakdown of the promises and our methodology.

  Cost ($ million)  
Pledge, bribe or policy National NZ First Note:
Replacement of 10 one-lane bridges  50.5   1
Development of the Port of Whangarei (instead of extension of the Port of Auckland into Waitemata Harbour)   123.4 2
Upgrade the Auckland to Northland railway line and rail link to port   198 3
Total 50.5 321.4  

While these estimates are just that - we'll be refining them as we get more information from Government agencies, clarification from the candidates and receive economic advice on the costs of the various promises. We hope that the Bribe-O-Meter will encourage politicians to be more precise and transparent in their bribes over the next three weeks.

1 The National Party announcd on 9 March that National will commit to replacing 10 single lane bridges on Northland's Twin Coast Highway. We have used the mid-point of the estimated cost of between $32 and $69 million. http://www.national.org.nz/news/news/media-releases/detail/2015/03/08/national-to-replace-10-single-lane-bridges-in-northland
2 The Taxpayers' Union has requested from Mr Peters details of what the 'upgrade' would consitst or and any costings.  We are advised that the cost of expansion in Whangarei, on an equivilent scale to what Ports of Auckland intend would require significant infrastucture and capital investment.  We have therefore assigned a 20% apportionment of the current value of Ports of Auckland's property, plant and equipment, which is listed as 617 million in the  PoA 2014 finaical statements. http://www.poal.co.nz/news_media/publications/2014_Reviews/2014_FinancialReview.pdf
3 KiwiRail have told use that: "The Northland line between Auckland and Whangarei operates under a number of constraints.   There are 13 tunnels 132 bridges and around 1000 culverts on the 214 km km route between Westfield  and Whangarei.
Tunnel clearance restrictions   place limitations on types of locomotives   and wagons that can be used and the size of containers – tunnel floors would need to be lowered and improved clearances on most of the tunnels.
There is also axle- load restrictions in place and work would be needed on structures to enable heavier loadings.
High level investigations have put the cost of  those two pieces of work at around $50 million."
4 KiwiRail have told us that "The cost of building new track per kilometre varies significantly depending on the terrain and ground conditions.  KiwiRail has not done a detailed cost estimate on building the 25 kilometre rail link to Marsden Point, however a feasibility study carried out [between 2005 and 2006] estimated the cost to be in excess of $100 million." Inflation adjusted from Q1 2006 to Q4 2014 = $122million
5 On 1 July 2014 he Northern Advocate reported that: "The project has yet to be consented and work was unlikely to start until 2017/18, but it had not previously been programmed for construction" (see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11285182 ).  On 18/3/15 Simon Bridges announced that construction would begin next month.
6 Households:  As at 31/12/14 $1.78million (see http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/estimates_and_projections/DwellingHouseholdEstimates_HOTPDec14qtr.aspx )

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