Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, New Zealand First MP and Cabinet Minister Shane Jones talks water storage, plant-based meat imitation, and superstar Hollywood director James Cameron.
While water storage may have its critics, Minister Jones defended the scheme by saying: “unless we invest and continue to invest” in this scheme he sees “a very grim future for our cockies and our rural towns”.
He laid the blame squarely on local councils for delaying vital action: “I’m going to be putting a very stern verbal missile where the sun doesn’t shine with a lot of these councils because they’re holding us up. We’ve gone and got the money.”
The Regional Economic Development Minister said that a review of the local councils’ performance is due: “I think quite frankly that the way in which local government delivers water services itself is due for remedial attention and reform, but I guess we’re going to have to actually campaign at that level.”
Minister Jones also gave a word of advise for the men and women in the logging industry who have been hit hard by the import restrictions placed on China in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak: “diversify”.
When asked by Mackay if he had regretted “putting all his logs in one basket”, the Minister disagreed.
“The expansion of the forestry estate was also driven by [NZ First’s] policy to create an industrial and manufacturing hub at the same time,” Minister Jones said.
However, he lamented the forestry sector’s reliance on the Chinese market: “Since the Helen Clark government made us the first Western trading nation to sign a free-trade agreement with China, the traffic has all headed off to China.”
“It was a free trade agreement that my leader, Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, opposed,” he added.
The Regional Economic Minister also batted for protection of our meat and dairy industry against plant-based alternatives, sometimes called “imitation meat”.
“I just think we need a piece of legislation, and I’ll be taking it forward to our Caucus, something akin to the Real Meat and Dairy Bill. This notion of veganism and almond powder or something akin to that is going to replace genuine red meat, genuine dairy milk, iIt needs to be stopped in its tracks.”
“I don’t care if I sound politically backward-looking saying that, but I’m an accurate reflection of people who have had a gutsful of our legacy industries being talked down.”
He hit out at critics of New Zealand’s meat and dairy industry, like Hollywood director James Cameron: “This chap flies all over the world generating negative carbon emissions, he’s got no mandate to speak to New Zealanders in the vein he does and should focus his attention on fixing America.”