Champion of the regions?

Shane Jones covers his eyes at the announcement of no more oil or gas permits

 

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar has written a polite but scathing account of how he believes New Zealand First have betrayed the regions. It is a monstrous betrayal made even more treasonous by the fact that Shane Jones is in charge of a large fund for regional development and has been nicknamed ‘The Champion of the Regions’.

I’m not sure that anyone will be calling him a champion now after last Thursday’s announcement. He can cover his face as much as he likes but he has betrayed the regions and the regions will not forget in a hurry. Quote:

Shane Jones has been trying to say that NZ First got a win for provincial NZ because they got a temporary exemption for onshore oil and gas exploration. This ignores the fact that they chose to put in place a Labour/Green Government rather than a National Government (even though National won more seats than Labour and Greens combined). End of quote.

Outside of the cities, everyone votes blue. This might have been an opportunity for New Zealand First to make some inroads within the regions particularly bearing in mind that Jones hopes to win the seat of Whangarei thus safeguarding the party if their share of the vote falls below 5%. Which it already has.

But no.Quote:

In just the last month the government that Winston personally chose has:

  1. Whacked regions with a 14 cent petrol tax to pay for urban public transport
  2. Cut spending on state highways in the provinces
  3. Canned provincial irrigation schemes
  4. Banned all future offshore oil and gas prospecting.

End of quote.

What a champion he is! How could the regions not love him for all of this? Quote:

None of this was in the coalition agreement they signed. None of this would have happened if they had chosen a National-led Government. They have betrayed all their provincial and rural voters and I am sure there will be utu come the next election. End of quote.

The trouble with that statement is that the next election is still over two years away. A lot of damage can be done in two years.

So, what exactly is Shane Jones going to do with his billion-dollar regional fund? If I was a cynic I would say that it will go a long way towards unemployment benefits for those in the regions. At the moment it does not look as if it is going to be used for much else.

I have a lot of connections to the Westport area. Firstly, they were decimated when logging was halted by Helen Clark. Then came the threats to mining. Then the Mokihinui Dam project was shelved because two kayakers a year go up the Mokihinui River. The coal price dropped resulting in redundancies at the mine. Solid Energy went into receivership. Bathurst Resources wanted to mine the Denniston Plateau and months turned into years waiting for approvals to be granted (mainly because of objections from Forest and Bird). I watched some of these things happen and realised that no one should have the right to destroy another’s livelihood. All these people wanted to do was to go to work. They wanted to earn a living, to feed their families and to have a decent life.

Do you remember how Metiria Turei said that beneficiaries should be able to have a decent life? Yet here we are talking about people who want to work for a living; whose livelihoods are turned to dust because of the policies of people like her.

It is madness.

So if people in Taranaki and other regions are feeling betrayed by their champion right now I am not surprised. Their champion has feet of clay. Or maybe there is just a Green tail wagging the dog that won’t go away. Either way, the regions are going to suffer.

Let us truly hope that both the Greens and New Zealand First are scorched in the polls. And let us hope that in just over two years voters in the regions rise up and tell the country what they think of their champion. And may both the Greens and New Zealand First be buried without a trace, forever. That is the utu I would like to see.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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