No lack of aspiration in Far North: Jones

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 08:04 30/01/2014

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Labour MP Shane Jones has slammed comments from Finance Minister Bill English that people in the Far North lack aspiration.

The comments were centred on development of the forestry and agricultural industries in the Northland region, and how people and businesses there interacted with Government initiatives.

Reporting to the finance and expenditure select committee yesterday, English faced a long line of questions from Northland-based list MP Jones.

English said the models of government intervention that had applied in the Far North over the last 30 years had "disempowered them rather than helped them much".

He dismissed the need for regional economic incentives to stimulate investment and warned that earlier governments had failed in similar policies.

"My own view is we need to re-think how the Government interacts with the Far North," English said.

"But it's more along the lines of sound development economics rather than additional Wellington bureacracy policy.

"Decades of intervention in the North by governments don't seem to have worked, and we seem to have a culture and a climate there, where aspiration's been killed off by the way the Government's dealt with them."

Jones said English's comments were a "kick in the guts" for the people of Northland.

"The leaders of the North know there is a challenge of intergenerational deprivation," Jones said.

"The vast majority however want the best for their kids and community. It is an extremely irresponsible attitude to take towards our region."

Jones said it was a "mean-spirited view".

"Why not work together with the North and revive forestry and fisheries by extending the same privileges that Hollywood and Fonterra have received from his government?"

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