In the same week he's been announcing funding for forestry and deprived regions, MP Shane Jones has been upsetting farmers with claims they're a bunch of moaners. In his second interview with Jamie Mackay on The Country this week, Jones reveals his harsh words earned him a growling from his uncle, and he offers a hint of remorse, though not without firing off another salvo or two.
Forestry Minister Shane Jones says farming advocacy organisations like Federated Farmers practise "double speak" and "I want to see an end [to] this bout of colic [they] seem to be suffering from".
Jones, speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country, said he'd taken a bit of "white water" since publicly slamming farmers on the show this week.
He told Mackay on Wednesday farmers needed to stop bitching and moaning.
Jones told Mackay today his target wasn't the farmers themselves.
"Obviously if I've ended up being misinterpreted or they feel that I've insulted them - my targets are their organisations not them as individuals, and indeed I got a growling from my own uncle who is a farmer."
Jones said NZ First caucus colleague Mark Patterson had also had a word with him.
"He's a farmer, as you know, from the deep south ... and he did say to me 'now Jonesy – we know you came out of the fishing industry, you don't need to show us every time you open your gob, you've got a propeller in there'.
"He said 'now, there's a distinction between the farming advocacy bodies ... but be respectful to the men and women who eke out a living milking cows, chasing cows, trying to turn from the land some pūtea'."
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Jones was speaking to Mackay from Whakatane Airport in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, where he'd been making funding announcements.
Jones was one of a number of ministers in Kawerau this morning to announce $2.2 million of Provincial Growth Fund money for youth initiatives in the Eastern Bay town.
Mackay pointed out that some critics had called the Provincial Growth Fund the Northern Growth Fund.
"You've been at pains to express the fact that this money from the Provincial Growth Fund is going to areas other than Northland, and the Eastern Bay of Plenty could be described, I guess, as a deprived area?"
Listen to the full interview below:
"Yeah the Eastern Bay of Plenty's got a lot of potential, the climate's great, the soils are more than capable of generating great returns from kiwifruit and horticulture. But like other parts of New Zealand where there's Māori land it's been hobbled by poor leadership, and what we've done is we've worked with the local stakeholders, the leaders of the Māori land," Jones said.
"We're going to front up with the pūtea to advance irrigation, and by marrying the resource of irrigation on to the land, you're going to be able to convert that land to high value kiwifruit farming and we're also going to train up the next generation of kiwifruit farm managers.
"So it's a blended project where we're creating opportunities to train the next generation, because you know my credo 'get the nephs off the couch' and actually bring the land into a more productive state.
"Now, it is a challenging area because it's well beyond Opotiki, so you're not talking about an area that's proximate to a port or other logistics centres, but we set up the Provincial Growth Fund to turn around the fortunes of those areas that have been neglected as New Zealand's politics and economics has progressively become metropolitan."
Jones yesterday also announced $58m for the forestry sector.
Mackay asked: "I would've thought forestry has enough already Minister?"
"There's over 20,000 people whose lives are touched in a positive way by forestry. The $58m is designed to establish and build, erect, a wooden building in Rotorua to demonstrate that we've got high quality processed product from our forestry sector," Jones said.
"We're going to put boots on the ground. I mean it's important that ... our forest agency liaise regularly and effectively with landowners."
Jones said they were not indiscriminately plastering trees on farmland.
"Our credo [is] 'right tree, right time, right place' and this is an opportunity, once we've rolled out the $58m, to have an extension service, and outreach service to be part of rolling out our climate change [policy].
"I'm very pragmatic about these things. I feel that if we're going to achieve our aggressive climate change targets, we've got to be pragmatic on the question of genetic engineering, genetic editing, the utilisation of genetic science to enhance the capacity of trees to take more of the negative carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, grow better crops, that don't worsen our climate change problems.
"I'm very suspicious of anyone who comes across in this proto-apocalyptic fashion about climate change who at the same time preaches science but doesn't want us to use genetic-based science to improve our capacity to deal with climate change."