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Northland Bribe-O-Meter update

Today we have released updated figures for our Northland by-election edition of the election costing Bribe-O-Meter. The figures show that National is catching up with NZ First in the amount of taxpayer funding pledged to the electorate.

We have updated our figures to take account of Simon Bridges' Akerama Curves Realignment Project announcement this afternoon. We have also revised the cost estimate of Mr Peters' rail policy pledge downward from $198 million to $172 million, reflecting advice received from KiwiRail.

As of today the National Party's election promises total $35.67 per New Zealand household. That compares to NZ First having pledged policy we estimate would cost $165.96 per New Zealand household if implemented.


The National Party may argue that the new bridges and motorways come from existing roading budgets and therefore are not 'new spending'. Nevertheless, where it appears projects have jumped the queue ahead of other projects, we have included them in the Bribe-O-Meter figures.

This by-election is quickly turning into a buy-election paid for by all New Zealand taxpayers. The Bribe-O-Meter's purpose is to provide transparency on pork barrelling taxpayers are being forced to pay for.

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
Rail link to port   122  4
Akerama Curves realignment 13    5
Total 63.5 295.4  

As always we are happy to refine the estimates 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  the Bribe-O-Meter encourages politicians to be more precise and transparent in their bribes over the next few weeks.

1 The National Party announcd on 9 March 2015 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.
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

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."


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


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 1.78m (Statistics NZ)

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