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Cabinet Minister responds to MPP cuts as government 'trims sails'

Alakihihifo Vailala, Te Rito Cadet

Shane Jones says cutting public servants is a necessary part of reducing the government's operational expenditure needed to fuel NZ's growth.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Could deep sea mining build resilience within the Pacific Region?

That’s what New Zealand First deputy leader and cabinet minister Shane Jones suggests as interest in the controversial mineral harvesting approach grows in the Pacific.

Speaking on 531pi Pacific Mornings, Jones says the rare sea-minerals found in the Pacific could be necessary for the climate change journey.

“There’s a trade-off here. We either continue to import these minerals from China, Africa, other nations or we try to create a greater sense of independence ourselves and boost our self-reliance by exploring, extracting and using the minerals ourselves.”

Watch the full interview with Shane Jones below:

Deputy Prime Minister, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters’ visited the Cook Islands earlier this year in which he seemed to support the nation’s efforts to explore deep sea mining.

Jones, who is also the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries says such an investment shouldn’t proceed further unless robust environmental controls and standards are enforced due to the environmental risks.

“There’s no easy answer here. You either continue to rely upon foreign distant nations or you take a risk and build resilience here at home.”

Jones says despite no Pacific representation within their caucus, the Party remains well connected to Polynesian communities overseas and locally.

However, he could not confirm whether or not New Zealand First would be supporting Green MP Teanau Tuiono’s bill that could restore NZ citizenship for a group of Samoans who had the entitlement stripped from them in 1982.

The bill is due for its first reading next week.

“I don’t want to compromise what our caucus might say in the upcoming week. That issue is a live issue amongst us at this very moment.”

Amongst many live issues include the concerns of some within the Pacific community after it was announced that the Ministry for Pacific People is to cut their workforce by 40 per cent.

Jones says there’s been a lot of "whitewater and wild allegations" amongst Māori and the Pacific community.

“We’ve inherited a situation where we’re going to have to trim the sails of our operational expenditure.

“It’s not permanent and like all households, we’ve just got to trim our expenditure and then grow our economy and then we’ll have more money.

He says the coalition government is focused on reallocating resources to strengthen the frontline due to the rapid growth in ministries but weakness in frontline delivery.

“The frontline doesn’t have to be dealt with or delivered by the civil service. Through clever contracting and the right type of relationships, we should be delegating more and more frontline.

“I don’t want people just focusing on the rationalisation of job numbers. The fact is that a lot of that money is going to be recirculated over time to strengthen the frontline delivery.

“And unless we can be proactive and work with communities to arrest health challenges before they become fatal, then certainly over the line where people are able to live meaningful lives.”

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