The Provincial Growth Fund has only managed to create just over 600 jobs with taxpayers forking out almost $500,000 per job, proving the policy is nothing more than another example of wasteful spending by this Government, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has paid out $297.5 million so far and it has created only 616 full time jobs. That works out to be $482,000 per full time jobs.
“Most New Zealanders would be shocked to hear their hard earned taxpayer money is being sprayed around by a Minister who is just spending cash without making sure business cases stack up.
“Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has publicly stated the main point of the PGF is to create jobs, but he’s only created 616. Shane Jones’ previous response to questions on job creation has been a shrug and vague promises about jobs materialising down the track.
“Well we’re two years in, when will these jobs in the regions materialise Shane?
“To make matters worse, the number of bureaucrats at the Provincial Development Unit has more than doubled in the last year. There were 53 in October last year, now 116, and 70 per cent of those employees are on salaries of $100,000 or more.
“The PGF is a giant waste of money. It’s a great time to be a bureaucrat in Wellington. But if you’re in the regions, where jobs are needed, you’re out of luck.
“From a Government that has become well-known for wasteful spending, this takes things to another level.
“We want our regions to prosper because what’s good for our communities is good for New Zealand’s economic well-being. Jobs aren’t created by political slush funds, but by the private sector responding to sound economic policies.”
The Government is squarely to blame for Kiwis being fleeced at the petrol pump, having milked half a billion dollars out of motorists in just two years through its fuel tax hikes, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“New Zealanders are being ripped off at the petrol pump and it’s the Government who is picking their pockets through all the fuel tax hikes it has introduced these past two years.
“The extra revenue it has collected from increased fuel excise, road user charges and the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax has already hit $565 million – that’s $319 per household.
“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the Fleecer-in-Chief. Her Government’s tax grab will hit $1.7 billion once further tax hikes – already passed into law – take effect down the line.
“This stings because motorists are getting nothing in return. The Government cancelled a dozen major roading projects that were ready to go under National and hasn’t started any major new transport infrastructure since it took office.
“In Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister listed the transport projects it had started, which amounted to a few road repairs, one new passing lane and a roundabout.
“Kiwis don’t need more reports from the Commerce Commission to tell them what they already know; that keeping the car running on their summer road trips this year is going to cost more than it should.
“We welcome suggestions to improve competition in the fuel market. But unlike petrol, talk is cheap and the Government is a big part of the reason why petrol prices are so high.
“If elected in 2020, National will repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and we won’t increase fuel taxes in our first term.”
Extra Tax Revenue Collected ($m)
1/7/18 to 1/12/19*
Road User Charges
Fuel Excise Tax
Regional Fuel Tax
*Based on expected tax revenue for 2019-20
Julie Anne Genter’s signature car tax isn’t winning the public over, with 69 per cent of submissions opposed to her proposal, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“The Associate Transport Minister has trumpeted that her car tax proposal is ‘winning favour with submitters’ but the facts don’t bear that out.
“Figures supplied by her office reveal most Kiwis rejected Labour’s car tax during public consultation, with 1860 of 2687 submissions opposed to it.
“This isn’t a surprise to National. We’ve said from the start that it’s not fair to make families pay thousands more for a used seven-seater van while wealthy executives get discounts on a Tesla Model 3.
“Treasury also warned the Minister that her car tax would unfairly punish New Zealanders for whom low-emission vehicles don’t exist to suit their jobs or lifestyle – all for a 0.09 per cent reduction in emissions over 20 years.
“The Minister has also revealed that announcements on whether or not the car tax will proceed won’t be made until 2020 now. Perhaps she’s finally realising that it’s bad policy.
“The fact remains that after more than two years in Government, and many more years of talking while in Opposition, Julie Anne Genter has not changed a single policy setting relating to electric vehicles from the previous Government.
“National will continue to oppose Labour’s car tax. We believe financial incentives, not penalties, are the best way to support this country’s shift to electric vehicles.”
The National Party is today launching a petition calling on the Government to reverse its decision to cancel the four-lane expressway between Ōtaki and Levin, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Labour cannot be trusted on transport. Minister Phil Twyford barely had his feet under the desk in his Beehive office before he scrapped the four-lane Horowhenua expressway.
“Twyford’s decision is a gut-punch to the local people who are crying out for this project, as well as the thousands of Kiwis who want a safe and efficient State Highway 1.
“The safety record between Ōtaki and Levin is unacceptable, which is why the former National Government included a new four-lane highway as a Road of National Significance.
“Twyford cancelled this plan after raiding $5 billion from the state highway budget – topped up by motorists’ fuel taxes – to pay for his light rail pet projects in Auckland and Wellington.
“Labour has whittled the Horowhenua expressway back to a two-lane road and won’t even consider funding its construction for another ten years, if at all.
“Horowhenua can’t afford to spend another decade in limbo. That’s why Ōtaki candidate Tim Costley and I are calling on the public to help us change the Government’s mind.
“National will deliver the world-class infrastructure Kiwis deserve for all the tax they’re paying, instead of the broken promises and uncertainty they get from this Government.
“Regional New Zealand deserves more respect than it is getting from Phil ‘two-lane’ Twyford, who openly believes we’ve overinvested in roads and motorways in this country.
“If elected in 2020, National will get on with building the infrastructure Labour is neglecting.”
National’s petition can be found here
Shane Jones’ inability to pinpoint when he first learned that a forestry company with links to NZ First was applying to the Provincial Growth Fund casts even more shadow over his involvement in the bid, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“All the evidence suggests Shane Jones was aware of NZ Future Forest Products Limited’s bid for $15 million of PGF funding long before he recused himself from the decision-making process.
“He was given umpteen chances to be upfront and honest in Parliament today, but instead chose to repeatedly dodge questions.
“Yesterday he told Parliament ‘I have known about Mr David Henry and Brian Henry's wood processing ambitions for several years’, but today he attempted to play down his knowledge of David Henry and NZ Future Forest Products.
“Shane Jones says the application was lodged on April 8 and he recused himself on October 14, once ‘formally’ notified of the funding application going to ministers. But this doesn’t answer when he first learned of the application’s existence.
“National has learned that NZ Future Forest Products Limited emailed Shane Jones about forestry matters on September 21 – an email Jones conveniently says he has no recollection of – suggesting he was more in the loop than he is letting on.
“NZFFP’s application raises a lot of eyebrows. It was made in March 2019 soon after the company was registered, with Winston Peters’ personal lawyer Brian Henry appointed as a director. Mr Peters’ partner Jan Trotman was then appointed in August, one month before the company emailed Mr Jones’ office about the application.
“Mr Jones has an appalling track record of inappropriate behaviour, conflicts of interest and lack of accountability – traits that have become a stain on the Provincial Growth Fund.
“The PGF was Labour’s reward to NZ First for supporting the coalition. The result is a slush fund that lacks transparency and is being treated as NZ First’s campaign chest for 2020.”
Today’s extraordinary performance by David Parker and Jacinda Ardern in Parliament raises even more questions about NZ First’s links to a shady Provincial Growth Fund application, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Yesterday in Question Time, Winston Peters talked about ‘both’ ministers declaring a conflict of interest in Future Forest Product Limited’s bid for $15 million of PGF funding.
“We know Shane Jones was one of them, but who was the other minister and why is the Prime Minister and the Associate Minister of Finance not providing straight answers?
“The Prime Minister was asked directly today ‘were there other ministers or under-secretaries who declared a conflict of interest in the matter being discussed?’ and she utterly failed to answer the question.
“Multiple questions still hang over the Future Forest Products Limited application. While Shane Jones declared a conflict in October after returning from holiday, why did it take him so long to do this when the application began in March?
“When was Mr Jones first aware of the application? What involvement did he have in the application while it was before the Provincial Development Unit?
“The Provincial Growth Fund is $3 billion worth of taxpayers’ money, so it’s right for questions to be asked about the probity of the process, and right for the Prime Minister and her Government to give the public some direct answers.”
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.”
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter ignored official warnings that the Government’s car tax will make some vehicles with the poorest safety ratings considerably cheaper, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
Minutes from the NZTA Board meeting on August 23 reveal management asked Ministers to not apply the proposed ‘feebate’ for electric cars to one-star and two-star rated vehicles.
“As the Minister responsible for road safety, how can Julie Anne Genter propose a policy that would make it cheaper to buy vehicles that have such poor safety ratings?
“Her own officials warned her the Government’s car tax is a bad idea, but those warnings appear to have gone in one ear and out the other.
“The Government sold its car tax to the public by claiming vehicles like the Suzuki Swift and Mazda 2 Demio would become cheaper, despite some models of these cars having either a one or two-star Used Car Safety Rating.
“It’s hard to believe Julie Anne Genter didn’t know these cars had poor safety ratings – the scores are there for all to see on the Government’s own rightcar.govt.nz website.
“We shouldn’t really be surprised at this given Julie Anne Genter has also dismissed Treasury’s warnings that the car tax will not only force some car buyers to pay thousands more, but it will have a near-zero impact on emissions as well.
“National believes financial incentives, not penalties, are the best way to support this country’s shift to electric vehicles. We will continue to oppose Labour’s car tax.”
The NZTA Board minutes can be found here
The Transport Minister and Prime Minister have some explaining to do after Phil Twyford was caught misleading Parliament, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
"Phil Twyford is on record in Parliament as saying no one from the previous NZ Transport Agency Board asked to stay on before they were axed in September.
“But after media reported ‘sources’ confirming a different version of events, the Minister has changed his story and admitted at least one board member did ask to stay on.
"The Transport Minister’s selective memory is not good enough. He has repeatedly stood by his claim that all five NZTA board members walked willingly out the door. It wasn’t until media backed him into a corner that he admitted some were shown the exit.
“Misleading Parliament is yet another nail in the very badly damaged coffin that has Phil Twyford's name on it.
"He has already broken one of Labour's major election promises by making a complete hash of KiwiBuild. Now his fingerprints are all over the Auckland light rail fiasco that has quickly become KiwiBuild 2.0.
“Twyford says he will correct his statement when Parliament next sits. This isn’t the first time he’s had to correct the record – he corrected his ministerial diary in June after he failed to disclose a meeting with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and was caught out.
"The Prime Minister now needs to say whether she has confidence in her Minister’s actions or whether he will face repercussions.
“Her Government claimed to be the most open and transparent ever but this couldn't be further from the truth, as evidenced by Clare Curran's secret meetings, Julie Anne Genter's secret letter, and now Phil Twyford's secret sackings.”
Kiwis sitting in traffic on the way home from long weekend holidays will be disheartened to know congestion will only get worse under Labour, National’s Transport Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Radical changes to transport policy settings by the Labour Government has meant the cancellation or postponement of many important transport projects around the country, including roads jammed on holiday weekends like Otaki to North of Levin, the Tauranga Northern Link, Cambridge to Piarere and Warkworth to Whangarei.
“The Government has stripped $5 billion from state highways and directed the money to a slow tram down Dominion Road to Mangere, or alternatively, a monorail and underground system direct to the airport. It’s impossible to say which, because Phil Twyford hasn’t yet made up his mind as to what the objectives of his light rail project are.
“The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has also been directed not to prioritise travel time savings. NZTA’s former Chief Executive Fergus Gammie confirmed to MPs before Select Committee earlier this year that the current Government Policy Statement ‘doesn’t prioritise travel time savings, and that is quite a significant change.’
“An Official Information Act request released to National shows that last year officials warned Phil Twyford that ‘the revised direction… could mean that travel times increase, particularly in seasonal and holiday peaks.’
“Kiwi motorists paying through the nose for petrol thanks to Labour’s new fuel taxes and regional fuel tax in Auckland should be outraged their hard-earned money is going on a light rail project that has no business case, no route and no costings – while they sit in traffic trying to get home on roads that have no chance of being upgraded thanks to Labour.”