Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Big spend for not much action

Photo / Steven McNicholl
Photo / Steven McNicholl

Taxpayers have forked out more than $80,000 for sentries to guard the Auckland Harbour Bridge - and the guards didn't have to do a thing.

Information obtained by the Herald on Sunday shows the New Zealand Transport Agency paid $82,000 for six guards during the Rugby World Cup. The guards were on duty on the days games were played in Auckland.

Agency spokesman Ewart Barnsley confirmed a further $3000 to $5000 was spent hiring six guards last week for the three days Aotearoa Is Not For Sale protesters were in Auckland.

Barnsley said the guards were hired to ensure no pedestrians went on to the bridge without permission, but he confirmed no incidents took place during the Cup or the hikoi.

"The bridge is a high-speed motorway environment and the agency has an obligation to prevent people from gaining unauthorised accesses that could not only put themselves at risk, but also potentially endanger our staff and people driving over the bridge."

Devonport-Takapuna local board chairman Chris Darby said he understood the need for safety and that any shutdown of the bridge would have a significant economic impact on the country, but the security measures were an overreaction.

For the hikoi, guards should only have been on the bridge the day protesters crossed by car, Darby said.

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