Shane Jones forgot warning against funding $350,000 feasibility study

  • 06/04/2018
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones.
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo credit: Newshub.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says he simply forgot a briefing warning him away from a project funded by the Government's $3 billion-dollar provincial growth scheme.

Mr Jones announced a $350,000 feasibility study into a waste-to-energy plant on the South Island's West Coast as part of the launch of the government's provincial growth fund in February.

But documents released last week showed that staff from the Ministry for the Environment had serious concerns about the project, describing its business case as "not adequately formed" and saying it relied on "unrealistic" expectations about the sourcing of waste, among other issues.

Asked why he backed the project despite the ministry urging against it, Mr Jones originally said he had never been briefed, telling Radio NZ it was probably just part of a "Darwinistic bureaucratic debate".

However, questioned about it in Parliament on Thursday night, the minister admitted he had been told about the matter.

"During the preparation of the announcements, of which the West Coast waste project was one, it has been pointed out to me that my officials did brief me - which I have acknowledged obviously happened," he said.

"But I find there's a connection between bureaucratic dross and political amnesia from time to time."

The project was put on hold after it was revealed one of its major shareholders, Gerard Gallagher, had been referred to the Serious Fraud Office over his work at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.