Lloyd Burr: Work-for-minimum-wage scheme a 'test' for the Greens

The Government's new tree-planting scheme will be a test for the Greens, political reporter Lloyd Burr says.

That's because Shane Jones wants to impose sanctions on beneficiaries who refuse to join the programme.

"It's a really big pickle for the Greens because before the election their policy was to abolish all financial sanctions and all obligations for beneficiaries," Burr said on The AM Show.

"The Greens are in this tricky position where their support is needed to get Shane Jones' billion tree planting policy across the line, which will include existing sanctions and possibly new sanctions against unemployed Kiwis who refuse to get out there and plant trees."

Mr Burr said the Greens' policies suggest they won't support the measure, "but their talk recently seems to suggest yes".

The Regional Economic Development Minister has called the scheme 'work for the dole' but the Prime Minister said it's actually a work for the minimum wage scheme.

But the Prime Minister is at odds with Mr Jones' view.

Speaking to The AM Show on Monday, Ms Ardern said there's no point in 'work-for-the-dole' schemes that pay the same as the Jobseeker benefit.

"The fact there will be a legal wage attached to it distinguishes it from some of those schemes in the past," she said.

"Where you replace real jobs - for instance forestry planting, which is a real job - with someone actually earning the dole, then you're replacing a real job for a lower wage."

Mr Jones has been allocated $1 billion to revitalise the provinces, and the tree-planting scheme is likely to be a big part of the fund.

Cabinet is yet to approve Mr Jones' plan, and it's not clear whether any new sanctions will be introduced.

"It's a really big pickle for the Greens and they're refusing to say what their position is because they've seen nothing concrete, there's been no proposal yet," Burr said.

"But it is going to test them, it's going to test whether they stick to their policy or whether they just go with the Government and pass this thing."