"To the winner goes the booty" was the line used by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones yesterday.

He was speaking at a select committee answering questions on regional expenditure, which paints an interesting picture. A biased one, if National's Paul Goldsmith is to be believed.

Out of the $3 billion provincial growth fund, 60 per cent of the spend so far has gone to Northland - coincidentally the home region of NZ First MPs Shane Jones and party leader Winston Peters.

Goldsmith asked how Kiwis can have any confidence in a fund that looks more like a slush fund for political gain for a party fixated with the north.


Jones, in reply, sounded less like he was talking about millions of dollars at a select committee, and more like he was on a university campus or watching his buff movies.

"To the winner goes the booty," he said, by which he means the north. Why are they the winners? Because of their leadership and organisation, he said.

Jones called it a "surge region", which is a region identified as needing early investment.

Which by the way also includes plenty of other regions but Northland ended up getting more than it asked for while the rest only got a fraction. Why? Jones said the advocacy and preparedness of Northland meant they were "first up, best dressed".

Here's what I find a bit off in all of this.

One, the allocation of these funds with an almost cavalier attitude, and two, the justification of it all sounding akin to a rap song. Surely Shane Jones, with so much money at his fingertips to sprinkle around the regions, should at least do so fairly and in a manner that reflects the gravitas of the position.

Talking about booty and first up best dressed, as cute as he may think his snappy soundbites are, seems rogue. I mean we shouldn't be surprised, rogue seems to be part of the NZ First induction programme along with being cavalier and disdainful of media.

But don't the regions deserve to be taken a bit more seriously?


When challenged about the lack of money for the South Island, Jones said they needed to "groom up" their applications. Does that mean flasher manila folders or better ideas? Hard to know.

In rejecting criticism he's been arrogant and shameless, Jones said it was "tawdry and amateurish" to suggest that focus on the north meant other regions would suffer.

At this stage I'm pretty sure the only thing looking tawdry and amateurish is the guy from up north talking about booty.