The Government will consider four Work For The Dole-type schemes before Christmas that will compel young people not in work or training to "get off the couch".

On TVNZ"s Q + A programme this morning, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said he would take four proposals to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

Asked if they were Work For The Dole schemes, Jones said: "I love the idea, and by Christmas, I am going to have announced at least four projects.

"They'll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them. They'll have to receive a minimum wage, but there will be no more sitting on the couch.


"Read my lips - I'm sick and tired of watching the ne'er-do-well nephs sitting on the couch doing nothing, and I, as a Maori politician and a Maori leader, I'm not going to tolerate it any longer."

He would not say how participants would be compelled to participate, saying details would be released in due course.

"I am going to take proposals to Cabinet. I'm calling it Work for the Dole. It may be the Work Readiness Kaupapa. But I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne'er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs."

The money for the programmes could come from the $60 million allocated to help NEETS (Not in Employment Education or Training) that previous Finance Minister Steven Joyce set aside, or as part of the $1 billion regional fund that is part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

Jones said the regional fund would be advised by an investment panel of "very senior commercial people" to target productivity in the regions, which the market had neglected for the past 30 years.

The fund would look at state interventions such as joint ventures, grants or injections of equity. Finance Minister Grant Robertson, in his speech on Friday, already indicated that the Government would consider public-private partnerships.

Jones said the regional fund could support small-scale irrigation projects, even though the Labour-Greens confidence and supply agreement has a provision to "wind down Govt support for irrigation".

The Government has said that existing Crown Irrigation Investments projects would be honoured, but new ones would not be offered.


Jones said the regional fund would not support large-scale irrigation, such as the failed Ruataniwha project in the Hawke's Bay, but smaller-scale ones would help areas where agriculture will suffer from the drought effects of climate change - such as the East Coast of the North Island.​

"I'm an advocate and I'm going to push for localised water storage, localised water initiatives, or I'm beggared if I can see how I'm going to lift the productivity of both the Maori owners and the Maori land.

"And it's got to be localised and fit for the local environment, and I'm going to push that vigorously."

The fund would not be used for gas exploration, he said. Gas should play a role, but the money would have to come from the private sector.