Shane Jones writing cheques the regions can’t cash
Paul Goldsmith - Economic and Regional Development
13 June 2019
Shane Jones is failing to deliver on all his hi-vis announcements, with only a dribble of the money promised through the Provincial Growth Fund actually landing in bank accounts, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“Mr Jones is using his Provincial Growth slush fund to parade across the country making loud announcements with much pomp and fanfare, but is failing to deliver on those promises.
“Information sourced from the Provincial Development Unit indicates many of the projects announced when the fund was established in February 2018 have not been progressed.”
“Mr Jones has promised $1.8 billion to the regions, but only $61m – or 3.5 per cent – has actually been paid to funding recipients.
“The fund will now need to spend $4m per day for the next two years to reach $3b – a whopping 31 times the current rate of spending.
“Shane Jones himself likes to say ‘kōrero is cheap, but money is real’. This just shows the Regional Economic Development Minister is all kōrero and no cash.
“The Gisborne Inner Harbour Development, which was promised $2.3m to make infrastructure improvements for the 250th Anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival, has yet to see a single cent of funding. The anniversary is in October.
“A further $500,000 was promised to make improvements on the Old Ghost Cycle trail, yet 15 months later the Provincial Development Unit is still in ‘pre-contract discussions’. Mr Jones is happy to take credit for employment opportunities created by the cycle trail, but his fund has contributed nothing. He should be thanking the local sponsors.
“Funding to develop a Business Guide to Tree Planting has been stalled and no contract has been finalised. When announcing the project, Mr Jones said it would accelerate tree planting and lead to more jobs, environmental and social benefits. The only benefit over a year later has been a press release and photo opportunity for the Minister.
“National wants our regions to prosper. We will back them with proven economic policies that deliver for all New Zealanders rather than slush funds, empty promises, pomp and fanfare.”