2 Sep 2020

James Shaw held off on approving 44 projects over Green School

9:44 pm on 2 September 2020

At least 44 infrastructure projects and $600 million in government funding were awaiting approval when Greens co-leader James Shaw put his foot down on funding for a private Taranaki school.

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Greens co-leader James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Shaw has been hit by a wave of controversy, after he championed nearly $12m in funding for the private Green School.

The school was only included in ministers' list of 'shovel ready' projects after Shaw refused to back other projects without it.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said when the email was sent on 7 August, Shaw needed to sign off on the final list.

"We had already announced a large number of projects, we were at the end of the process, there was a bit of coming and going with projects so obviously that email said what it said, but we had announced a large number of projects before that point," he said.

As of the 6 August, 118 shovel ready projects had already been announced, totalling $1.8 billion in government funding.

But, by the 28 August a list of 162 projects had been announced, meaning that at least 44 projects were awaiting government approval when Shaw drew a line in the sand with his email.

Yesterday, Shaw apologised for an 'error of judgement' over the funding.

But National's Judith Collins is accusing Shaw of political posturing during a crisis.

"James Shaw was willing to play politics with his own government at a time when contractors, councils and workers were crying out for work, I actually think he's put at risk people's jobs," she said.

Collins has said she thinks Shaw should resign over the mistake.

"It's not just that he advocated for a particular Green School that doesn't even have education registration to be a school, but that he's actually held up all these projects on the basis that he was holding the rest of the government basically to ransom," Collins said.

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