$ 100m for marae week before poll ‘ corruption’
Ardern rejects Collins' claim, says Nat gave cash promises in 2017
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is pushing back on claims by National that a $ 100 million Provincial Growth Fund spending announcement yesterday was “verging on corruption”.
The claim from National leader Judith Collins was “absolutely not true”, Ardern said, noting that, when it was in government, National made spending announcements during the campaign period.
The row between the two leaders comes after Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced $ 100m from the PGF would be spent on upgrading hundreds of marae across the country.
This i s the last official PGF announcement and essentially means all the $ 3 billion fund has been allocated.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Collins said it was “outrageous” the funding had been announced so close to next week’s election.
“It’s absolutely verging on a corruption of the system — it should not be happening,” she said, adding that it was “very dodgy behaviour”.
“Just imagine the absolute hysteria that would be greeted if a National government ever tried to do that.”
But Ardern pointed out that this was exactly what National has done in the past. For example, a week ahead of the 2017 election then- Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced the first round of a $ 100m tourism infrastructure fund.
Ardern said the $ 100m announced yesterday was part of reallocated PGF fund that was diverted into Covid- 19 recovery projects which create jobs.
“It is important that we keep the job of the recovery going, in spite of the fact there is also a campaign on.”
Jones agreed:“People’s jobs continue to suffer [ due to] Covid,” he told the Weekend Herald.
He added that he remained a min
It’s absolutely verging on a corruption of the system.
ister “right up until the point at which the new regime is sworn in”.
The $ 100m will pay for the upgrading of 351 marae across the country.
Ma ¯ ori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the money i s estimated to create 3100 jobs and would “filter into the communities” by creating business through the purchasing of building materials.
The Bay of Plenty gets the most money — almost $ 30m for 77 marae, which Jones expects will create close to 650 jobs. Fifty- three Waikato marae get almost $ 14m, as do 60 marae from Taira ¯ whiti/ East Coast.