Shane Jones concedes insufficient jobs created by Provincial Growth Fund, ‘repurposing’ funds

The billion dollar a year Provincial Growth Fund was promoted by Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones as a way of creating jobs in regions where unemployment was high, but Jones now concedes that the scheme described by some as pork barrel politics and others a NZ First re-election slush fund has failed to deliver enough jobs.

Jones now concedes the PGF hasn’t created enough jobs, suggests “Provincial Growth Fund money is not going out the door through conventional projects” and is now looking at ‘repurposing’ PGF funds to try to save job losses rather than create new jobs.

When the PGF was launched in February 2018: Provincial Growth Fund open for business

The new $1 billion per annum Provincial Growth Fund has been officially launched in Gisborne today by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

“As of today, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is open for business and has the potential to make a real difference to the people of provincial New Zealand,” Mr Jones says.

“We are being bold and we are being ambitious because this Government is committed to ending the years of neglect.”

“The first of many projects the PGF will support will create more than 700 direct jobs, and 80 indirect jobs – an impressive start to what will be an exciting three years for our provinces.”

5 February 2019 (Stuff) – Shane Jones wants Provincial Growth Fund to get ‘nephs off the couch’

“The flash words that we assemble in our Cabinet papers have actually today put a pair of gumboots on,” Jones said.

“Prince Shane” Jones was here, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Employment Minister Willie Jackson, to revive his promise to get the “nephs off the couch”.

These “nephs” are more commonly known in policy circles as NEETs – young people not in employment, education, or training – and they have been a bugbear of governments for decades.

“We are not going to rely exclusively on our Filipino Catholic immigrants. We are going to do the bloody work ourselves,” he told the crowd to applause.

But by now questions were being asked about the number of jobs being created. Jones himself is a fan of using flash words, but his job creation claims were starting to look like little more than piss and wind.

Newsroom 18 April 2019: How an OIA laid bare the pork barrel shambles that is Shane Jones’ provincial growth fund

On 5 February, MBIE’s head of the Provincial Development Unit, Robert Pigou, was reported claiming that the Provincial Growth Fund “was on track to create 10,000 jobs” – in contrast to National’s claims that the fund had created only a handful of jobs to that point.

I assumed that MBIE had run an economic forecasting exercise to estimate the effects of their various initiatives, and I wanted to know whether their assumptions had stacked up. So I made a simple request:

“Please provide the workings underlying the job creation claims, along with any correspondence with Treasury relating to that modelling.”

On 26 February, Treasury advised me they had no information to provide as they had not provided any advice to MBIE.

…on 22 March, MBIE informed me that “the Ministry is due to publicly release a spreadsheet detailing the 10,000 jobs figure at, as such this part of the request has been withheld”.

On 8 April, the Ombudsman’s office pointed me to a release on MBIE’s website providing the figures.

Here is what MBIE did to produce the 10,000 jobs figure.

They took the number of jobs that every Provincial Growth Fund applicant promised in their grant application. They added those numbers. Then they added one job for every feasibility study the Provincial Growth Fund was undertaking – that’s because you have to hire somebody to do a feasibility study.

That’s it.

Newshub 13 June 2019 – Shane Jones dodges questions over jobs created under Provincial Growth Fund

A spokesperson from Jones’s office said on Thursday 900 jobs had been created to date, including 52.5 under the ‘One Billion Trees’ programme. But the spokesperson didn’t have the number of new full-time, long-term job statistics on hand.

Jones, the Regional Economic Minister, has insisted that more jobs will be created as the PGF continues throughout the year and as projects under the fund are rolled out.

Goldsmith said at select committee Jones’s office had revealed in February a total of 215 jobs had been created out of 36.5 percent of PGF projects, and only six of those jobs were counted as full-time, long-term jobs – the rest were short-term, fixed-term or contractor roles.

The document obtained by Newshub showed 137 of the 215 jobs were part-time of less than 30 hours a week, while 23 were listed as full-time. It said it wasn’t recorded whether the remaining 55 were full-time or part-time.

Newshub 7 December 2019 – Revealed: Provincial Growth Fund costing $484k per full-time job

It’s been more than two years of the coalition Government and the $3 billion PGF has created just 616 full-time jobs.

The Opposition says it’s spraying cash, costing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for each job created.

But the minister in charge – Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones – insists it’s about more than just jobs.

An answer to a written question from National Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop reveals 1922 people are employed by PGF projects – and of that, just 616 are full-time jobs.

So far, $297.4 million has been spent so far on PGF projects. That’s $484,000 per full-time job, excluding those part-time jobs.

Jones insists infrastructure projects like roads and rail will take years to build, however in the long-term they’ll create jobs and further investment and increase confidence in the regions.

Six-hundred is an important figure but over the life of the fund and when the long-term projects are stood up it’ll be many thousands more than that,” he says.

This week (Stuff 7 April 2020) – Shane Jones concedes Provincial Growth Fund hasn’t created enough jobs, promises a fix

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has conceded the Provincial Growth Fund should have created more jobs after an attack by a union boss.

“We’ve disappointed a lot of rural communities that thought the dough would flow much quicker into their communities,” Jones said.

“There are no nephs there are no shovels,” he said of the Waipapa roundabout in Northland. 

“A large focus must go less on capital and on about generating actual jobs,” Jones said. 

But it could be too late for that, in this Parliamentary term at least. The Covid-19 impact on the economy and businesses is likely to see a bit surge in unemployment.

There Government is already looking at ‘repurposing’ PGF funds: Work to repurpose PGF funds begins

The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.

“We need to be throwing everything we have at our disposal at keeping Kiwi businesses going, workers in jobs and regional economies afloat and viable. If Provincial Growth Fund money is not going out the door through conventional projects then it needs to be repurposed for other initiatives,” Shane Jones said.

That sounds like Jones is conceding that ‘conventional projects’ have largely been a failure and the PGF funds should be used now to reduce job losses rather than create new jobs.




Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  9th April 2020

    In light of the C19 crisis it makes sense to reallocate funds.

    Of 3billion earmarked ,only a minor amount has been employed.-‘So far, $297.4 million has been spent so far on PGF projects’=around 10%.

  2. Gezza

     /  9th April 2020

    Jones has spent too much time having a good time touring & preening for the media.

    A competent Minister should have been able to have approved any number of job creating new enterprises in the regions by now, imo.

    Hope to see him riding off into the sunset after the next election, & replaced by somebody capable of more than showboating.

    • Blazer

       /  9th April 2020

      I like him.
      Especially his irreverent attitude to the elite.

      • Gezza

         /  9th April 2020

        Wake up & smell the covfefe.

        He IS the elite.

        • Blazer

           /  9th April 2020

          He is elite ‘light’ and the born to rule Elite,do not like him ,one bit.

          • Gezza

             /  9th April 2020

            Still didn’t do his job with thisMight’ve been better at the job the Nats bought him off with.

            But probably not. Lazy bugger, imo.

  3. David

     /  9th April 2020

    So Jones is going to re name his pork barrel scheme and carry on the same wasteful way.
    If they want the economy to fire then reverse the drilling ban, reverse the minimum wage rises, reverse the labour market reforms, halt the assault on landlords, suspend the RMA in built up areas and generally get the hell out of the way and let business get on with business and focus on making sure the health systems shortcomings dont cause the economy to be shut down again.

    • Blazer

       /  9th April 2020

      ‘ let business get on with business’….that just seems to result in….bailouts…private enterprise is so often …’spending other peoples money’!

      ‘reverse the minimum wage rise’…are you serious,it ALL gets spent.
      Way too much of the average debt slave’s income finds its way into landlords pockets as it is.

      Your beloved Nats did nothing about the RMA.

      I bet you’re getting your share of Govt handouts in todays climate…David.

    • Griff.

       /  9th April 2020

      If they want the economy to fire then reverse the drilling ban.
      What drilling ban?
      opps that right who needs reality when you can just make alternative facts up .
      We have a ban on permitting new prospects .
      Existing permits can still be drilled. These issued permits already include all the most likely future prospects within NZ waters .

      International gas prices have crashed no one will be drilling here for the foreseeable future as we are a high priced producer due to geographical factors.

      • David

         /  9th April 2020

        Oh so your Gal is not the environmentalist she claimed to be, she is an oil and gas shrill after all.

        • Duker

           /  9th April 2020

          And you arent the sharing- caring businessman at all, you just want the 2% to increase their share of the economy and the hell with anyone else.
          Oil is a dead end in NZ, what has been found has been found, including my great great great grandfather on the West Coast in the 1880s they didnt understand back then that NZ is tectonically active so any oil pockets are just that.
          Its cheaper for US to buy bulk LNG on the world market and ship it here

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  9th April 2020

            “Its cheaper for US to buy bulk LNG on the world market and ship it here”

            Assessing such costs and risks is a job for the private sector, not bureaucrats and politicians playing to their peanut galleries.

        • Blazer

           /  9th April 2020

          you’re doing a great impression of a bewildered punching bag this morning…David.

          • David

             /  9th April 2020

            Ho hum, not everyone’s going to like you

            • Blazer

               /  9th April 2020

              its not a matter of ‘liking’ becomes a matter of respect when you cannot back yourself up on the many ‘point’s you attempt to..make.

            • Gezza

               /  9th April 2020

              Well, you’re mostly ok with me at the moment. You do seem to have a few clues sometimes.

              But I’m keeping an eye on you, David. So keep it together.

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