NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – we may suppose – has yet to become a Point of Order subscriber.
We suppose this on the strength of a patsy question she put to Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in Parliament yesterday.
We must confess we were gobmacked by the gall of the question – she wanted to know what recent Provincial Growth Fund announcements Jones had made.
Clearly she was oblivious to this blog’s regular reportage of PGF distributions, as we record the government spending detected by the Point of Order Trough Monitor.
More bizarre, the flood of PGF announcements from Jones is recorded on the Beehive website. Marcroft’s staff (it seems) have yet to show her how to use her computer to find out where the money is going.
Like anyone else, the MP – or her staff – can find them here.
And let’s give Jones credit for not being shy about the millions of dollars he is distributing. To the contrary, he loves being in the headlines and he relishes letting communities know how generous he has been.
Fair to say, we are not privy to what goes on at NZ First caucus meetings. But we imagine Jones eagerly lets his party colleagues know what a splendid job he is doing in putting the PGF to a political purpose – the promotion of the party’s re-election prospects – as the self-anointed First Citizen of the Provinces.
But no ….
Marcroft had to put a question to him in Parliament.
Let’s hear it again:
What recent Provincial Growth Fund announcements has he made?
The answer was unhelpfully unspecific.
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Over the past three weeks from Foveaux Strait to Kaitāia the first citizen of the provinces has been active. Each region is different. Each requires a particular mix of policy and intervention to boost productivity, but the announcements have covered manufacturing, tourism, forestry, mineral extraction, roading, horticulture, and, for the edification of the Opposition, biogas.
Let’s try again.
Jenny Marcroft: What are some specific projects that were supported?
Hon SHANE JONES: The Invercargill Airport air cargo—a neglected part of New Zealand over the last nine years—terminal development. We have turned it around so that “terminal” only applies to the physical infrastructure, not the aspirations of that region as they’ve been saddled with over the last nine years; $500,000 to upgrade the first direct-check connection between Auckland and Invercargill; and, one other—just to show that we have our eye on the more forgotten parts of New Zealand—the one billion trees investment of $5 million to address a promise made by the former Treaty Minister to that tribe to deal with the Waiapū catchment challenges, showing that we fly high and we also deal with things on the ground.
The next question was a good one, although it had the potential to give Jones something to talk about for the next several hours.
Jenny Marcroft: What progress did he observe on some Provincial Growth Fund projects already under way?
The Point of Order Trough Monitor picks up on spending decision but is unable to check on how effectively the money is being or has been spent.
Fair to say, Jones was unlikely to say progress has been pitiful.
As things turned out, he said nothing.
The Speaker said a fundamental requirement for supplementary questions is that they have to relate to the primary question – “and that one didn’t“.