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Shane Jones has confirmed his flagship forest investment in Northland was bungled after pine seedlings ended up being mulched, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“It’s our money and your reputation being mulched, Mr Jones.

“The Minister’s extraordinary admission speaks volumes about the lax rules in place around the Provincial Growth Fund. ‘Mulching’ is a higher risk for any venture that involves taxpayer funds and lacks full disclosure.

“We’ve seen evidence this week that Provincial Growth Fund meetings were among 61 that Mr Jones forgot until recently he had attended. This is a Minister given a loose grant of some $3 billion to pursue investments that suffer from a lack of transparency.

“Now we learn that the inaugural venture in the One Billion Trees scheme was a bust, with seedlings destroyed.

“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’.

“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.”

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