Transport Minister Simon Bridges has been derailed by his underlings at Kiwirail. Or he’s been caught lying. Or he hasn’t got the first clue about what’s going on in his portfolio. Whatever his inadequacy is, his resignation should be on John Key’s desk in the morning.
Bridges has repeatedly said that the Otiria to Portland line in the North was not going to be closed. This evening, the truth came out.
Kiwirail has told major customer MWC (Marasumi Whangarei Co.) that the line north of Kauri will be mothballed next year. Leaked documents show that maintenance issues and knackered wagons mean the line is no longer viable. In short, Minister Bridges has failed to make sure a major rail corridor he is responsible for remains open, despite repeatedly saying it was not under threat.
This is a huge blow for the region. MWC will have truck its logs south to the port, further congesting and ruining the already substandard Northland roading network. Remember John Key’s by-election promise to fix Northland’s bridges? Did Key also know what was coming, putting money aside to minimise the damage the extra trucks would do?
Northland MP Winston Peters accuses Bridges of lying, claiming the Minister was in the know about the line’s grim future. The emails show that days after Bridges assured the house there were no plans to mothball the line, Kiwirail were sending emails that said precisely the opposite.
“When you say something that’s not true like that, you’ve got to be accountable as a minister and so he should resign,”, says the Northland MP.
Even if Bridges hasn’t lied, he’s clearly held in contempt by his staff at Kiwirail. If he didn’t know, it can only be because they were deliberately keeping him out of the loop or he simply wasn’t asking the right questions and they were smugly avoiding tell him what was really going on.
Whichever scenario is correct, lies, deception or incompetence, in a decent government with genuinely high standards, a minister this hopeless would himself have come to the end of the line. But we’ve come to expect so little from John Key, I’m picking Bridges will asked to discover he has an urgent meeting overseas and do a McCully until the dust settles.
In the meantime, the people of Northland have been shunted aside by this Government yet again.
Why does Key hate everything north of Omaha beach? Did he once stub his toe on a Kauri tree or something?