The Provincial Growth Fund has descended into a farcical free-for-all with officials slamming a project for ‘triple-dipping’ into various government funds, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

The Mt Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti Connection in Gisborne was given $6.1 million in September despite the project requiring over $1 million less than that because it had already obtained funding from other government sources.

Documents show an email conversation in which officials joke about the application.

‘[There is] double/triple dipping going on here!’, says one person, referring to the fact the project had secured funding from other government sources. The response came: ‘Hahah…they only need 4.75 [million]…not 6!’

“Officials questioned the credibility of the application and said the Government shouldn’t fund it at all.

“Despite the application needing far less than was being requested, and Treasury telling the Government not to support the project at all, Shane Jones threw the full weight of his Fund behind it.

“This farcical situation would be amusing if taxpayer money wasn’t at stake.

“The documents also show Jones’ promise of more jobs is a figment of his imagination, with officials saying the $6.1 million project is ‘unlikely to have a significant impact on employment’.

“Money is being taken from the productive economy and being thrown at projects of dubious value to win votes.

“Jones’ cavalier attitude to taxpayer money has become contagious. The regions know he needs to spend $3 million a day and they are trying their luck with him. Why wouldn’t they?

“ACT would end the Provincial Growth Fund, and all other corporate welfare, and return the money to those who earned it.”