National criticises Government‘s infrastructure plan after Shane Jones appears on Newshub

National has criticised the Government‘s foreign investment plan after Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones‘ appearance on TV this morning.

National‘s finance spokeswoman, Amy Adams, said Jones‘ interview on Newshub Nation today proved how conflicted and confused the Government was.

“The minister talked about his frustration around getting projects off the ground. He‘s being pressured for more capital to fund infrastructure but Labour‘s ideological resistance to PPPs [public private partnerships] means a number of important projects are failing to get off the ground,” Adams said.

Jones told Newshub Nation private investors will not be able to own things such as schools, hospitals and prisons.

“The private sector will help deliver the creation and the construction, but in terms of equity, no – that remains core ownership Crown assets,” he said.

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Adams has attacked his comments, saying Kiwis will suffer the consequences of the stance.

“Without being open-minded and innovative around ways to fund new schools, hospitals and prisons, taxpayers will either end up footing more of the bill or we simply won‘t get the vital infrastructure we need.

“Mr Jones also talked about the need for more foreign investment – just days after the Government severely restricted foreign investment through the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill.

“Then he said he was bringing in more Pacific workers to help plant his billion trees, despite saying immigration is too high and he instead wants to get his ‘nephews‘ off the benefit and into work.”

Adams said it was becoming “increasingly clear the Coalition Government‘s ideologies don‘t line up with the reality of running the country”.

“Mr Jones basically admitted this morning that what they‘ve been doing is wrong.

“Mr Jones said several times this morning that he‘s not a ‘tag and release‘ politician. What we now know is that he‘s been tagged as minister, but ideology means he can‘t be released to get on and do his job properly.”

Jones, who wants to start an agency to oversee development of major capital projects, also told Newshub Nation setting it up would involve sacrificing some political authority to “create credibility in the industry”.

“If I can buy, through an agency on behalf of Government, greater credibility, more certainty, more confidence, then I‘ve got no qualms whatsoever about heading in this direction.”

Jones hopes to have some funding for the agency in the next Budget, and expects it would only need $5 million to start up.