Goldsmith versus Jones on the Provincial Development Fund

Paul Goldsmith, National’s Spokesperson for Economic and Regional Development, has been nagging away at Shane Jones, the minister in charge of the Provincial Development Fund.

In Parliament last Wednesday:

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he told the National Business Review that we have to make sure that “We’ve got enough nephs or if necessary a few Melanesians to help plant the trees.”, what proportion of any new forestry jobs does he expect to be filled by Melanesians, presumably by the way of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme?

Hon SHANE JONES: Yes, well, from Melanesia we already draw a host of RSE workers and policy is being looked at, but the preference is to get the proverbial nephs off the couch. It is proving to be a challenge as a consequence of the last nine years of Kaikohe, Kaitāia, Gisborne, Hastings, and a whole host of other places—and I would remind the member that $50 million was put aside by his Government and not a single neph got off any couch, because they never spent any of that money.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was what proportion and he made no reference to anything like that.

SPEAKER: Right, I think the Minister can have another go.

Hon SHANE JONES: In terms of proportions between workers that may or may not come from Melanesia and the nephs, such a policy is under active consideration.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm that the fame of this visionary policy has been so far-reaching that countries in the Pacific and Pacific Islands are now mustering their workforce to assist the member in the implementation of his plan?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Come off it. What a load of rubbish.

1 News: Shane Jones forced to correct answers after failing to disclose 61 meetings

National’s Paul Goldsmith said the slip was of concern as he controlled the $3b provincial growth fund.

Press releases from Goldsmith:

Jones’ forestry jobs cost at least $485k apiece

Shane Jones could hire the Prime Minister to work on his tree-planting schemes – and she’d get a pay rise – based on the fuzzy economics of the Provincial Growth Fund.

More questions than answers in $140m spend-up

The Government’s travelling caravan of grants and soft loans is continuing to the West Coast tomorrow with the bequeathing of $140 million of taxpayer funds that raises more questions than answers.

Last night Goldsmith and Jones were put up for a debate on Q+A last night – Is the Govt’s billion dollar provincial fund the best way to boost regional economies?

Jones is responsible for dishing out $3 billion over the current term, so it is important he is held to account. Goldsmith’s nagging is a good way to do this – he doesn’t seek attention as much as some politicians, but his nagging keeps forcing Jones to explain what he is up to.