National's Whangarei MP accused of blackmail
The Northland by-election campaign was rocked with an allegation of blackmail today.
Northland dairy farmer Alex Wright is all about dusty roads – she hates them, protests against them and now says she has been threatened by the Government over them.
"I have an MP who is a doctor trying to tell me that, just hold fire for two-and-a-half weeks and we'll see what happens after the by-election," she says.
It is all about National's Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti. Ms Wright's protest group emailed MPs wanting the dusty roads fixed. Dr Reti did not like the group's tone, telling her to cool it during the by-election or the Government wouldn't help with the roads – Ms Wright recorded his phone call.
"In this next two-and-a-half weeks the more threatening the emails, almost certainly, my approach will come to an end - I can almost guarantee it," he told her.
"If this next two-and-a-half weeks if it's so critically important to have that tone, then go ahead and do it, no problem – and then we'll see what the consequence is."
Dr Reti says it was all about advice, not bullying.
"If they interpret it that way then I'm sorry about that and apologise for that," he says. "I'm saying we've got a by-election, it's another two-and-a-half weeks for the by-election, don't be distracted, we're doing good work."
New Zealand First leader and Northland candidate Winston Peters has called it "a desperate form of political blackmail".
"There's no other word for it," he says.
Mr Reti denies it is "blackmail" and that it looks dodgy.
"I think it looks really good," he says.
He believes Ms Wright's tone would put off the ministers who he had been lobbying for help.
"It's sort of almost threatening really, and that's not good," he says.
Ms Wright denies the group has been "threatening", saying they have been trying "peacefully" to get something done about their roads.
source: newshub archive