The Cabinet is now acting as a rubber-stamp for Shane Jones’ withdrawals from his Provincial Growth Fund, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.
The NZ Herald reports that Shane Jones asked Cabinet to approve $240 million for the One Billion Trees programme without providing any detail on how it would be spent.
The Government’s economic advisor, Treasury, urged the Minister of Finance to say ‘no’: ‘The paper currently does not detail how the funding will be spent...no detail around how many trees, or what kind of trees will be delivered...grant categories and rates, and the operational design of the grant scheme has not yet been determined...there are still several important details still to be worked through.’
"It's almost unbelievable that a quarter of a billion dollars was requested, and approved, with so little detail about how it would be spent.
"Shane Jones is on a moral crusade to spend $3 billion in three years and he doesn’t care how he gets there. He doesn’t want value for taxpayer money. This is simply about buying votes for NZ First in the provinces.
"Jones says if he 'did everything at the pace Treasury would like, my three-year posting will have come and gone.'
"This is a perfect example of what happens when government uses someone else’s money to make a purchase for someone else – there is no concern for quality and cost.
"Taxpayers – when they keep and spend their own money – are far more prudent than politicians and bureaucrats.
"If the investment opportunities in the provinces were as good as Shane Jones says they are, New Zealanders would invest in them. But he is taking taxpayer money and propping up ventures that otherwise wouldn’t survive. That is plain wrong.
"ACT would eliminate every dollar of corporate welfare and return the money to its rightful owners."