Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is claiming some success in his quest to "get his nephs off the couch" and into employment.
- Shane Jones dodges questions over jobs created under Provincial Growth Fund
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Speaking to Newshub Nation, Jones said the Provincial Growth Fund he looks after has created "well over" 1000 jobs in the almost two years since its inception.
"We're well over the 1000 mark and soon I'll be releasing more figures. Though I am a politician, I am not making these figures up. Two thousand people have enjoyed the fiscal attention of the Provincial Growth Fund."
Jones said he expects more jobs to develop as further projects get underway.
"Well, the reality is, some of the projects, for example building the gondola in Ruapehu, there's both the full-time jobs, but there's the service providers and the contractors who get in there and build the stuff together.
"Once the infrastructure is up and running, once the businesses are up and running, they will attract more people over time."
An announcement regarding Te Waihanga is expected this week, a new Crown entity which will reportedly have "unprecedented" powers to shore up New Zealand's flagging infrastructure.
While $6.1 billion has already been earmarked for projects due to get underway by 2021, Treasury estimates $129 billion needs to be spent over the next decade. Jones acknowledged the shortfall and said Government should get creative to find the cash.
"I really think we've got to come up with better funding mechanisms that blend both private and public capital, or even that capital which is publicly-owned, and start to fund our infrastructure in a far more innovative way."
Jones said last year New Zealand was "open for business", inviting overseas investment in infrastructure projects, but admitted progress has been slow.
"That's a good cop. Things have been concealed in treacle, but we are actually waiting now to hear how do we actually move ahead with the Penlink project, which is a significant project."
National has continually called out Jones over his claim that the current Government is "pro-road", but the Infrastructure Minister repeated the claim to Newshub Nation, only with a regional caveat.
"Well, I believe that in the regions we are a pro-road Government. We are fixing up those areas of local roads and regional roads that have long-since been neglected.
"Admittedly, they are not the uber four-lane highways from Wellington to Kaitaia, but that was a pipe dream anyway. None of that was ever funded."