Shane Jones has shown it all this week: from a lack of transparency to looseness with spending to rank incompetence, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“Hard on the heels of revelations that Mr Jones had ‘remembered’ 61 meetings he had previously forgotten to disclose is the news that the inaugural venture in the One Billion Trees scheme was a bust, with millions of pine seedlings bought that couldn’t be used.
“Of the 1.1 million seedlings bought, only 191,000 could be planted because the land was too overgrown.
“Government papers appear to show more effort was put into the launch event for the $32 million Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust joint venture than in assessing the land to ensure it could be replanted. Much of it couldn’t.
“This is incompetence laid bare. It shows the risks of wild and frenetic spending to an overtly political timetable. Jones concedes as much, telling the Herald that he has ‘three years to roll out planting of 23,000ha’.
“Mr Jones has refused to disclose financial terms of deals already agreed and papers show even the Treasury was concerned about the loose arrangements, commenting in one paper about ‘the lack of detail around grants’ and schemes that got $240 million in Budget 2018.
“New Zealanders are entitled to expect taxpayer money will be spent sensibly not rushed out the door to bolster the election prospects of New Zealand First.”