Weekend Herald

$ 100m for marae week be­fore poll ‘ cor­rup­tion’

Ardern re­jects Collins' claim, says Nat gave cash prom­ises in 2017

- Ja­son Walls Business · Corruption · Politics · Crime · Arbeidersparty · Jacinda Ardern · Judith Collins · Government of Malaysia · Bay of Plenty RU · Shane Jones · Paula Bennett · Nanaia Mahuta

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.

Ju­dith Collins

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.

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