Winston has National against the ropes and is starting to look for the knockout punch

Steve Joyce and Jo de Joux will have been lying awake thinking how to neutralise this one:

National?s claim of spending $750 million between 2009 and 2015 on Northland roads is false, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland by-election candidate Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The government?s spending is $520 million, much of which Labour had budgeted for in 2008-09. The local ratepayers share for roads is $185 million.

“More seriously, the estimated collection for roads for the north is $130 million per annum.

“Yet the government spending totals $86 million per annum – that means Northland is being short-changed by $44 million per annum.

“The government is siphoning off the money for its Roads of National Significance programme. It has now suddenly decided, as an election bribe, to extend the Puhoi to Warkworth highway to Wellsford, but it will be a toll road, whereas their Roads of National Significance elsewhere are not tolled

Joyce knows Northland is too close to call. ?It’s been swarming with “superstar” MPs trying to spark off?some kind of advantage, but Winston knows where to hurt them – it isn’t about ?face time with Paula, it’s all about pulling the scabs off.

And telling Northland they are getting taxed at $130M but the spend is $44M less than that is going to hurt. ?To promise their 10 bridges, most of which were on the planning board already, is not even re-investing what Northland have been contributing to the consolidated fund.

This time next week, I suspect Mark Osborne will be going back to his old job. ? Short of Winston’s hard life catching up with him, he’s going to continue doing what he does best, and National’s going to have to figure out what to do over the next two years now that RMA reform is scuttled.