With less than a year until the next general election, some would be forgiven for wondering when our leading Opposition party was going to find some footing to mount a campaign.
But, after missteps over fining cyclists for straying out of designated cycle lanes and "getting tough" on gangs and beneficiaries, leader Simon Bridges may have finally found some traction by promising National will be the "party of infrastructure" if it wins power in next year's election.
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National, he declared this week, wants to complete its "roads of national significance" projects as well as a second generation of upgrading 10 major roads to four-lane expressways across the country.
These include: Whangārei to Warkworth; the East West Link in Auckland; Cambridge to Tirau; Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Ranges; Tauranga to Katikati, including the Tauranga Northern Link; Napier to Hastings; Levin to Sanson; Manawatū Gorge; Christchurch to Ashburton; and the Christchurch Northern Motorway from Belfast to Pegasus.
Bridges said National will unveil a full pipeline of infrastructure projects next year, but was just outlining a "sense of our ideas" this week.
There are many details to be outlined, none the least timelines and exactly where the money would come from to pay for these roads. National had said it would use private capital and public-private partnerships to get the money to fund the projects but how this will work on such a scale will be keenly anticipated by business and the roading construction sector.
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It may appear to be an attempt to cut in front of Labour's $12 billion spend on infrastructure, split across new roading, rail, schools and healthcare projects.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government would be announcing the specific projects in early to mid-2020. The $12b of new spending is in addition to the new spending that was promised in Budget 2019 and will be funded by the Government taking on more debt.
By claiming to be capable of raising private capital for roadworks, National has put a stake in the ground to reinforce its criticisms of the Government abandoning its 20 per cent of GDP debt limit for a 15-25 per cent band - meaning it would be allowed to borrow billions more dollars, before hitting the upper limit.
National MP Amy Adams has said raising the debt level was not about creating "wriggle-room", but was a "blunt admission" the Government couldn't manage its books properly. Bridges described the strategy as more evidence of "tax, spend, borrow, hope". "We've said it from the start and we've been proven right quicker than we thought," he added.
Should National be able to show it can raise the infrastructure funding, without taking the country further into the red, this could be a genuine drawcard at next year's polling booths.
Four-lane expressways do not guarantee a safe journey, nor are they a foolproof ticket to the ninth floor of the Beehive, but they will be a popular offering for motorists currently dicing with death on these killer roads.