Revelations in Question Time about Shane Jones’ involvement in a Provincial Growth Fund application where he had a clear conflict shows why the Auditor-General needs to investigate, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Regional Development Minister Shane Jones was in charge of the process of NZ Future Forest Products Limited applying for Provincial Growth Fund money for six months.
“Mr Jones only transferred responsibility for the application to Associate Minister of Finance David Clark three days before the application was turned down.
“Dr Clark confirmed in Question Time today that responsibility for NZ Future Forest Products Limited’s application to the PGF was transferred to him on November 4, 2019 with the decision made to turn the application down on November 7, just three days later.
“NZFFP’s application was made in March 2019 soon after the company was registered with Winston Peters’ personal lawyer Brian Henry appointed as a director, with Mr Peters’ partner Jan Trotman being appointed in August.
“This means Shane Jones was in charge of the process for nearly six months while NZFFP was discussing its application with officials.
“Multiple questions arise in this murky affair and the Auditor-General must investigate. Among them, why did it take Mr Jones so long to declare this conflict of interest? What advice led to Mr Peters also declaring a conflict, as he appeared to reveal in Parliament today, and when did he declare that conflict?
“If you set up a $3 billion slush fund then you’ve got to expect some tough questions. The process surrounding the Future Forest Products application doesn’t pass the sniff test.”