Revelations that Shane Jones wanted to spend taxpayers’ money on an unnamed regional airline which hadn’t even asked for funding are a new low in his handling of the $3 billion slush fund, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Mr Jones’ comments to Newsroom indicate he was ‘keen for the proposal to go further’ but he failed to get support from his Labour Ministerial colleagues.

“It would be odd for the Government to invest in companies just so they could compete more effectively against a business the Government already part owns (Air New Zealand). It’s doubly odd to push for an investment when it hadn’t even been requested.

“Treasury’s comments were withering: The company ‘has not applied to the PGF for funding, and we have not seen any analysis of what benefit a $15 million investment in this company would provide’.

“It is tawdry that Mr Jones was pushing this plan at a time when he was carrying out a personal and public vendetta against the CEO of Air New Zealand.

‘One reasonable interpretation of events is that Mr Jones was angry with Air New Zealand’s leaders because they wouldn’t do his bidding and he wanted to teach them a lesson by strengthening the airline’s competitors.

“This will send a shudder through New Zealand business.

“Coming on the heels of his inappropriate intervention in a NZ Transport Agency regulatory matter, in direct contravention of the Cabinet Manual, it is abundantly clear that Mr Jones doesn’t understand appropriate Ministerial conduct.”

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