Paul Goldsmith says the Government's provincial growth fund should really be called a compensation fund.

The National Party economic and regional development spokesperson was in Whanganui on Friday speaking at a Whanganui Chamber of Commerce lunch at the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy.

Earlier this year the Government launched a $1billion annual fund for regional economic development projects.

However, Goldsmith said other Government policy, such as ending oil and gas exploration and reducing spend on state highways, countered the benefits of that.


"I'm certainly not negative about the opportunity for regions such as yours to make the most of the provincial growth fund," he said.

"We wish you all the very best in claiming some of those funds."

But the Epsom based MP said his party had an interest in ensuring the money was spent efficiently.

"It's not hard to spend $3 million but it is hard to make sure $3 million is spent efficiently in a short space of time."

Whanganui has so far been allocated $6 million from the fund for port and rail upgrades.

"We will be watching very carefully. We're not going to be unduly negative about the opportunity that is there if the money is spent wisely."

Goldsmith said he sensed complacency from the Government about New Zealand's economic success.

"It's not actually written in stone that New Zealand is and will always be a wealthy country. Everyday we've got to go out an earn it."


He said the Government's ban on future oil and gas exploration was a "very powerful signal" and he was worried what impact it would have on business confidence.

Energy was the driver of an economy and the ban wouldn't reduce fossil fuel consumption, he said.

"That's how a lot of countries make their living so we've got to be careful about shutting these things down. It's very unusual."

Government needed to be consistent in its message and policy because business needed confidence so the economy, which "has a head of steam", doesn't slow.

"That momentum will carry on for quite some time, but not forever. It's difficult for people standing back to work out 'well, what's the overall plan here'."

Goldsmith also addressed comments made by Jones this week that ministers should be able to appoint their own public service bosses rather than the State Services Commissioner in order to speed up the implementation of policy.


While Goldsmith said he had "a small amount of sympathy" with Jones he said an independent public service was "fundamental to the way we go about business".

The public service was there "to ask those pesky questions like what are we actually getting for this money? Who's getting this money?"