The Prime Minister has defended James Shaw’s decision to approve $11.7 million of funding for a Taranaki Green School, but Winston Peters says the mistake is characteristic of his inexperienced coalition partner.
Today Mr Shaw, the Associate Finance Minister and Greens co-leader, apologised for approving the grant for the school in Taranaki with dubious links and said a solution was being sought.
Mr Shaw’s approval was made despite the Green School New Zealand near New Plymouth not yet receiving education approvals needed to function as a private school, according to an RNZ report.
Jacinda Ardern said the project was about job creation and didn’t come at the expense of any funding for state schools.
“Over $2 billion has been spent by this Government on capital support for our state schools, including a $400 million investment in upgrades for state schools across the country,” she said.
“That demonstrates how committed we have been in bolstering the quality of our public schooling infrastructure.
“This project is about job creation, it creates 200 jobs and that’s why it was seen so favourably by the Crown infrastructure process.
“He advocated for a project that ultimately Crown infrastructure partners said ticked all the boxes when it comes to supporting jobs in the region, which this project does.”
Mr Peters said the blame rested solely on Mr Shaw.
“Experience in Government matters. Seriously, it’s very important and no more than now,” he said.
“This is a mistake of bad fiscals, bad understanding of the marketplace and, worse still, of a very uncertain applicant.”
The NZ First leader adding that his party had, in his view, repeatedly stopped the coalition Government from pursuing silly ideas in the past three years.
“You cannot go on making these sorts of mistakes in this business. We’ve said it for a number of times this year. We’ve said it for the last three years in Government,” he said.
“We’ve stopped things that were a silly idea and promoted things that were a good idea. I know it wasn’t always popular with some in the media.
“I’m afraid this is a case of accountability where the blame stops with the person who is now saying he’s sorry he did that.”