Treasury concerned over Shane Jones' spending, but he signed off millions anyway

Newshub can reveal Shane Jones signed off on millions of dollars of funding - despite his officials explicitly warning him not to support the projects.

Treasury was even concerned one of the projects may have been overfunded by more than a million dollars.

Gisborne, the poorest region in New Zealand, was handed $150 million by Mr Jones and his provincial growth fund back in September.

It was a big deal - even the Prime Minister was there.

"This will last a lifetime," Jacinda Ardern said at the time.

But Newshub can reveal Treasury warned the Minister not to fund up to $11.5 million worth of the projects.

It told the Government not to give $5.5 million for the Gisborne Airport revamp, as well as another $6 million for a tourism project at Mt Titirangi.

"I think it's fair to say that Treasury are paid to be doubting Thomases," Mr Jones told Newshub. 

At the time he bragged about how many jobs would be created

"Scores and scores of people are gonna be required."

But Treasury said the Mt Titirangi initiative was unlikely to boost employment.

Not only that - Treasury couldn't figure out why it needed $6 million.

Emails between Treasury officials raise concerns of "double or even triple dipping going on".

The emailed response: "They only need $4.75 [million] based on my back of the envelope, not six [million]".

"We've created a culture under this Government where you'd be mad not to put your hand up and line up, because they are giving handouts left, right and centre," David Seymour said.

Mr Jones said in this case he prefers advice from his other officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). 

"Treasury is not the only cock in town that we hear crowing," Mr Jones said.

"I'm a political creature imbued with instinct and savviness and I'm not changing."

Mr Seymour believes time is up on such allocation of funds.

"This kind of loose spending might be okay in good economic times, but times they are a-changing."

It wasn't just Mr Jones who signed this off - he had backing from senior ministers Grant Robertson, David Parker and Phil Twyford, and the Prime Minister was at his side for the announcement.

That's a lot of big players railroading Treasury advice.