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Q+A: Minister Shane Jones interviewed by Jessica Mutch McKay

Minister Shane Jones – farmers can’t have it both ways on the One Billion Tree strategy.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told Q+A tonight that farmers can’t criticise the growth of forestry if they reject the idea of a carbon tax.

The Minister was addressing concerns by some farmers about the future of their local communities and the environment due to farms being converted to forestry.

“‘I don’t buy into the exaggerated claims that the Billion Tree strategy is destroying the Wairarapa economy. We are in the business of allocating $120 million for purposes of forestry grants targeted primarily on land which is erodible, on red zone on orange zone land for want of a better expression. I accept that there are some dangers in terms of the wrong tree in the wrong place at the wrong time but actually our mantra is the opposite and I’ve just had all the farming leaders into my office where I have undertaken to work with them to ensure that inadvertently I don’t inundate the countryside with trees, but the majority of the money that’s been put aside for working with landowners is actually for native trees.”

Minister Shane Jones rejected criticism about the number of overseas investors in forestry:

“Now, there may be some farms that are being sold internationally, and they go through the OIO process, and, you’re right, the OIO process has been simplified for forestry purposes, but at the same time, we have tightened up the amount of land that can be sold without you requiring the permit.”

Minister Jones denies it is about a subsidy for foreign investors. “I don’t know of a single foreign investor who has received a grant from Te Uru Rakau.”

He also says the OIO is too slow to approve applications for investment in mining.

NZTA and Northland trucking company

Minister Jones dismissed allegations he intervened in a NZTA case against a Northland trucking company as a matter of “political pinball in parliament,” and “largely belt-way trivia.”

“I am the first citizen of the provinces, and I’ve continued to raise existential issues that pertain to the provinces, and if it’s necessary for me from time to time to raise those with an independent body, the public expect me to do that.”

Please find the full transcript here.

Q+A, 9:30pm Mondays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.

Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz

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