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Shane Jones has serious questions to answer after newly-released documents suggest he misled Parliament over his knowledge of a suspect Provincial Growth Fund application, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“It’s become clear the Auditor-General needs to investigate Shane Jones’s involvement in the bid by NZ Future Forrest Products Limited for $15 million of PGF funding.

“The company has deep ties to NZ First, and today’s media reports show the Regional Economic Development Minister knew about its funding bid months before he declared a conflict of interest.

“Not declaring a conflict of interest immediately is a clear breach of the rules governing ministers.

“If Shane Jones received a presentation from the company about its project in April 2019 then it’s hard to square that with his claim in Parliament that he had ‘no idea’ about the company’s existence until October 14.

“Shane Jones’s statements are even more dubious given his officials were aware of the conflict of interest in June, and the independent advisory panel wrote to the Minister about the project in July to support the funding bid.

“The Minister obviously knew these documents would expose his lies because he cynically released them on December 23, hoping no one would notice over the Christmas break.

“The process surrounding the Future Forest Products application doesn’t pass the sniff test. The look of it is wrong and that’s why it’s right for the Auditor-General to investigate.

“While no money changed hands, the process is even more important than the substantive outcome because of the close links between those involved and the historical murkiness of Shane Jones’ $3 billion slush fund.”

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