The Government’s corrupt provincial fund

The Herald reports:

National MP Mark Mitchell has claimed a NZ First MP told him to pull out of a regional development project in Mahurangi and stop questioning Regional Development Minister Shane Jones if he wanted funding for the project.

Mitchell, the MP for Rodney claimed that over the weekend NZ First MP told him the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund “but for that to happen would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP”.

He said Marcroft told him she was speaking on behalf of a minister, but would not say who.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.”

“She also said if ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.”

 He said it was “rotten politics” and an attempt to use the Fund to silence political opponents.
This is close to naked corruption and/or blackmail. Using taxpayer money to try and silence MPs. Threatening projects in their electorate won’t be funded because they criticised a Government Minister’s travel.
However, NZ First Winston Peters said Mitchell had “misunderstood” the conversation with Marcroft – who had later apologised for it at Peters’ direction.
There was of course no misunderstanding.
He said Marcroft was not acting under the instruction of a NZ First Minister.
Of course she was. Why else would a brand new backbench MP ring up an Opposition MP and talk to them about a regional development project in his area. It is unthinkable she did this on her own initiative.
The only issue is which Minister instructed her. Was it the Minister in charge of the provincial fund, Shane Jones, or the NZ First Minister that contested the Rodney electorate, Tracey Martin.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also unaware of it but said applications for the fund would go through the same process regardless of who was advocating for it.

“There is no prerequisite that anyone who is seeking funding needs to be silent on opposition to the Government.”

This is the hear no see no evil approach. The PM should be saying she will investigate this and determine which Minister was involved. But as it is a NZ First Minister, she won’t.

 Good comment from Kimbo:
Alfred Ngaro was only sounding off to supporters to gee them up for the the election campaign when he made the empty and rhetorical threat to stop funding Willie Jackson if he continued to criticise the government. And yet Bill English called him in and dressed him down. In contrast, Ardern does nothing with the NZ First ministers who are certainly involved. Says it all…
Yep English didn’t just dress Ngaro down, but did an investigation of any funding decisions that involved him. Contrast that to Ardern’s refusal to even acknowledge there is an issue.

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