Shane Jones seeks to cut deals for Regional Development Fund

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has declared himself ”deal focused” and not a fan of long reports which gathered dust.

The New Zealand First MP laid his cards on the table at yesterday’s 10th birthday celebrations in Tauranga of Bay of Connections – an organisation charged with creating the framework for growth in the Bay of Plenty.

Jones said Prime Minister Jacinda Adern would soon be making an announcement on the criteria for the $1 billion Regional Development Fund.

Read more: Shane Jones’ Working For Your Country scheme aims to get young people off the couch

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There were expectations that the money would be spent to improve infrastructure, with all regions given the chance to partner up with the Government, he said.

Projects from organisations like the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Bay of Connections would be brought forward to his officials.

Jones said progress on projects would be inversely related to the number of words written in reports.

”I will be deal focused. I am not a fan of inexorably long reports that gather dust and nothing gets done,” he told the birthday celebration in Baypark’s ASB Stadium yesterday.

Jones said the Government would not be continuing with mega irrigation schemes. However, when they were localised and environmentally robust water storage schemes, he would make them happen.

He said the Government would be bumping up the number of officials and bureaucrats to help drive the increase in productivity in the regions.

The Government was up for public/private sector development partnerships and was willing to bring together the disciplines of commerce and public-good capital, Jones said.

Bay of Connections governance group chairman Doug Leeder highlighted the $300,000 project under way in collaboration with the Government and NZ Geothermal Association to stimulate investment in the Bay’s natural resources.

”We are pleased to announce that geothermal expert Andrea Blair has been appointed to this project.

“She has already set initial targets for the region, including a number of new geothermal initiatives to be established across the region in the next two years – each creating new job opportunities,” Leeder said.

Significant highlights of 2017 had been the Opotiki Harbour development reaching the preferred tenderer stage, and the sea farm development off the coast of Opotiki.

”The Kawerau industrial hub development was another project that has gained traction this year.”

Leeder said the Kawerau inland container port and rail terminal feasibility study had been completed. It showed18,000 trucks could be removed each year from the roads to Tauranga – the equivalent of 50 truck movements every day.

Cross-section of 2017 Bay of Connections highlights:
– Rugby Sevens strategy completed. Wider strategy in development.
– Maori economic development navigator appointed.
– Pilot horticultural learning programme completed at Katikati College.
– PlantTech regional research funding of $8.4m approved by Government.
– Bay of Plenty Film Office established.

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