Jones praises himself, speaking as a Minister

NZ First MP Shane Jones continues to impress himself with his eloquence. I’m not sure how widely he is admired beyond a mirror.

Getting anything serious or of substance out of Jones is nearly as hard as getting a straight answer from Winston Peters.

And both of them may feel further unleashed now that Peters has taken over as acting Prime Minister (he is not prime Minister as Jones claimed, Jacinda Ardern retains that role).

In Parliament yesterday:

Question 9 – Hon Paul Goldsmith to the Minister for Regional Economic Development

Does he stand by his statement to the House last week, “Fonterra cannot wander around making advertisements, such as they did this year, drawing on the countryside and the personalities of country people and not expect the ‘champion of the country’ to hold them accountable”?

 

9. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by his statement to the House last week, “Fonterra cannot wander around making advertisements, such as they did this year, drawing on the countryside and the personalities of country people and not expect the ‘champion of the country’ to hold them accountable”?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): In response to the question, the word “champion” is a verb and a noun, and I am delivering it by deed and by word.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Was he speaking in a personal capacity at the time he made that statement to the House?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat: I will remain an avid defender of the standards of accountability. Unlike that member, I will not be sucked in by this corporate-based pecuniary prattle, smooth tongue, and what I said, I owned.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I probably should have ruled the question out. I mean, it is absolutely obvious that if a member makes a statement in the House in response to a question, as a Minister, then he is speaking as a Minister.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How does he reconcile his response in the House with the statements of the Prime Minister, who repeatedly said that his comments regarding Fonterra were made in a personal capacity—”end of story”?

Hon SHANE JONES: Just to remind the House, those candid remarks were made to an audience organised by KPMG, where we were told it was Chatham House Rules. And then, when I returned to the House, obviously someone associated with the National Party leaked those remarks to the press gallery. And as befits a plain-speaking, forthright advocate, champion, citizen of the provinces, I own what I said.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he told the House last Thursday, the day after the Prime Minister had asserted that his comments about Fonterra’s leadership were made in his personal capacity, “I stand by my remarks in terms of accountability [they] should be shown by failing corporate governance culture at the highest levels of our largest company, and if the cab doesn’t suit then shanks’s pony is just as good”, was he intentionally setting out to make the Prime Minister look weak?

Hon SHANE JONES: My style is strong and forthright; however, nothing that I have said, done, or am contemplating to do is designed to undermine the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, or indeed the Deputy Prime Minister, soon to be the Prime Minister. And I think what the member needs to understand, it was a rapidly changing narrative. It started where I was invited as the “champion of the country”, I gave the remarks to an adoring audience, and I said them to the face of the chairman of Fonterra, not behind his back, like other people on that side of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister seen the supportive comments of the New Zealand Herald writer Fran O’Sullivan, and why would it be that she is allowed to see the common sense of the argument about Fonterra’s lack of accountability but the National Party can’t?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! [Interruption] Well, you know I am allowed to make my own rulings. The member can answer the first part of the question but not the last.

Hon SHANE JONES: The journalist referred to is a highly respected, well-versed, leading writer about matters of governance and accountability, and I’ve got every confidence when she congratulates my call for accountability she speaks truth to power.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So have I got the sequence right? The Prime Minister told him off for attacking corporate leaders; then he did it again; then she said he was only speaking in a personal capacity, not as a Minister; then the Minister rode over that fig leaf in a steamroller and repeated those statements in the House—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I’m now going to ask the member to very quickly come to a question that doesn’t have the level of embellishment—even if the fig leaf embellishment he used is a small one.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I started with the question, Mr Speaker. The question was—

Mr SPEAKER: Well, if the member started with the question, has he finished?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, no, because I was continuing the question and I haven’t got to the end of it.

Mr SPEAKER: OK, right, get to the end quickly.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I’ll start again if I—

Mr SPEAKER: No. No. Does the member have a further supplementary?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: No. I haven’t finished this particular question.

Mr SPEAKER: No. No. You have.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I’ll let him answer it then.

Hon SHANE JONES: The member obviously doesn’t understand the reproductive cycle. This was a story where seeds were planted in an audience full of farmers and their grandees. It changed. At what point he missed the impregnation, I’m not sure.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I could see that throughout that question you were asking yourself whether or not it should progress or otherwise and what was right and what was wrong. You at one point said that you thought the simple question about whether he was acting in a personal or ministerial capacity was irrelevant, because, clearly if he’d spoke about it in the House, he was acting ministerially. I wonder if you might consider asking the “provincial champion” to provide some sort of timetable for when he is acting personally and when he is acting as a Minister? Because our understanding is that Ministers are at all times Ministers, and when they are invited to speak somewhere as a Minister, they are accountable as a Minister for what they say.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, there is no other authority than the member’s former leader John Key, who made the very distinction which everyone else got but Gerry didn’t.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, now the Deputy Prime Minister will stand up and address the honourable member for Ilam in the appropriate manner.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, which the honourable member for Ilam didn’t get.

Mr SPEAKER: Right, now, what—[Interruption]—no. I’m—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, hang on. We’re dealing with a point of order and someone makes a contribution on it. Everyone’s got to understand it. What circumstance is the Deputy Prime Minister referring to? Because there was a long discussion in this House where someone can be considered a party leader, and the Speaker will remember those long discussions some time back. That has been a long-held tenet in this country that if someone is doing something as a party leader, that’s separate from their other roles, but a Minister is always a Minister as long as they hold the warrant.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The former Prime Minister, Mr Key, said that he was not always acting as a Prime Minister and he gave examples such as when he was put the putting the cat out. So the very principle that that member outlaid to the House just doesn’t stand.

Mr SPEAKER: Right. I want to thank both members for their contributions. I think they have highlighted something which is an important issue and one which I think in New Zealand we haven’t quite got our heads around. I was reminded earlier today of some comments, I think, attributed to the honourable Mr Finlayson when he referred to the Roman habit of indicating whether or not senators were on duty—whether they were acting as senators—via the colour of their toga. It mightn’t have been Mr Finlayson, but in those days it was very clear whether or not people were acting as Ministers or not. [Interruption] Amy Adams—

Hon Amy Adams: Sorry.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, we have had in this House some quite long discussions, I think, without any real conclusion as to when people are Ministers and when they are members and when they are acting in private capacities. It is clear that Ministers do at times act in all three different capacities. Clearly, there are things which they do, especially those who are constituency members, which they’re not doing as Ministers; they’re doing on behalf of constituents, and that is clear. There have been a number of examples given by Mr Key—I think putting out the cat was one of them. I think there were some others which weren’t quite as repeatable in the House—and we wouldn’t want to get into them in the House—which were done in a personal capacity rather than in a ministerial capacity. So it has been accepted by the House previously that there are occasions where, effectively, the ministerial hat is taken off and people act in a personal capacity. But what I’m not certain of—and maybe we need to have a discussion at Standing Orders at some stage is to get things a bit more codified so members can better understand these things.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That process will be a good one, but it’s a long process, as you’re aware. In this case, Mr Jones was at a function, invited to speak, because he is a Minister. At no point, as far as we know, did he say, “Look, I’m happy to speak, but I’m speaking to you in a private capacity.”, and if he was speaking in a private capacity, then clearly the criticisms he could make could stand, but certainly would not have got the publicity they did as result of his making those statements. So I think some sort of interim ruling from you about what is in and what is out as far as Ministers acting would be useful for the scrutiny of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: I will see if I can get my head around the issue.

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32 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 21, 2018

    Brownlee came across well. Jones as a clown prince.

    Reply
    • Jay3

       /  June 21, 2018

      Jones never uses one word where five will do. Almost every idiom is mangled and malapropisms litter his speech. He comes across pontificating and pompous. A ludicrous Mr. Micawber but bereft of the charm.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  June 21, 2018

        Can you translate that for me, Jay?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  June 21, 2018

          I can, Corky. Jones likes to use flowery grand-sounding phrases & words & sounds like Mr McCawber, a Dickens character, & while he thinks he’s being eloquent & showing off his mastery of the English language vocabulary sometimes he chooses the wrong words or uses words in the wrong context & the end result is actually nonsensical, which makes him also sound like Mrs Malaprop, another Dickens character.

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  June 21, 2018

      Brownlee came across as a typical hypocrite,something Nationals members have a …talent for.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2018

        Brownlee actually usually comes across very well & his points of order are generally well made & relevant. He is acknowledged as the Father Of The House, has some genuinely witty exchanges with The Speaker, & on the whole is now one of the better, more thoughtful & professional parliamentarians in the current lineup. Trevor generally accords him respect.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 21, 2018

          Indeed. In contrast Blazer comes across as himself, unfortunately.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  June 21, 2018

            Snigger.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 21, 2018

              Mr Micawber is nothing like Mr Jones; Mr Micawber knew the meaning of his words and used them correctly, if verbosely. And he didn’t praise himself all the time, if ever !

              Mrs Malaprop was NOT a Dickens character, she was invented by Richard Brinsley Sheridan who died when Dickens was 4. She was the one whose most famous malapropism was possibly ‘a nice derangement of allegories on the banks of the Nile.’ I think that she is in The Rivals. The word malapropism was coined for misuse of words in that way in honour of Mrs Malaprop (whose name is derived from the French ‘mal a propos’, which is .one of those hard to translate into English expressions)

              Please let Shane Jones never discover that in the North of England, champion is used as an adjective, or he’ll claim the hat trick.

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2018

              I did wonder about Mrs Malaprop but I’m using the iPad 2 and if you open a new tab in Chrome to google check sometimes whatever you typed gets cleared when you click back onto the YNZ & you have to start again so I thought I’d just wing it & when Kitty turns up she’ll be able to fill us in on the correct situation.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 21, 2018

              Champ – dog food.

              Ion – atom, small particle.

              Shane Jones describes himself as a champion – a small particle of dog food ?

              (larfs at own wit)

              Yes, Mrs M is in The Rivals.

              There’s a scene where Mr Micawber wallops the falsely umble Uriah Heep over the hand with a ruler, which doesn’t sound too bad, except that it would have been a round ruler made of ebony and would have been excruciating. Serve the bugger right.

              Dickens never puts ‘ in front of umble when Uriah says it, a nice touch.

  2. duperez

     /  June 21, 2018

    It must be hard for Shane Jones. He has to choose about style and that of course is buffeted by his mood. To be flippant or to say something succinct and sensible? Be smart-arse and play to the crowd? Or play to the mirror? Practise linguistic gymnastics? And that to confuse the audience, to feign intellect, to avoid substance, to entertain? Or blending bits and pieces of all or some of those?

    The light from the language has to be very bright to even see the mirror when it’s up some orifice let alone spread light outside.

    Reply
  3. George

     /  June 21, 2018

    Mallard should really retire.
    Its far beyond the poacher to become game warden.
    And if not then his running protection of inept labor members should quit

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  June 21, 2018

      He’s dreadful. He’s obviously biassed towards Labour and that is unacceptable. He makes no attempt to be impartial, it’s a disgrace !

      Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  June 21, 2018

    Brown may have come across compared to Jones but in the end it was for nought.
    I’m guessing there will be no interim ruling. Easy to ask for in opposition.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 21, 2018

      It’s not an issue that will go away so long as Jones is poncing around.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2018

        On the slightly plus side Willie Jackson answered a short series of patsy questions about funding of some young Maori work training initiatives. He read from a prepared script & was & thus finally managed to sound Ministerial at last.

        Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  June 21, 2018

    I watched this live yesterday & was trying to decide whether he had awarded himself yet another title but in the end I decided he’d simply embellished one of his previous self-awarded titles – Provincial Champion (PCn).

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 21, 2018

      Having now read the transcript I don’t think Jonesy actually said any malapropisms nor did he incorrectly use any English words this time, although his reference to Goldsmith not understanding the reproductive cycle was one of his more bizarre-sounding allusions.

      This pompous self-praising style of delivery is now obviously his carefully calculated schtick to ensure he is the focus of attention amongst the sheep who make up the rest of the NZF team & other parliamentarians, & it is clearly working because while we all laugh at his pretentiousness, everybody listens out for it the minute he starts to speak, & thus he usually gets his point across somewhere in the middle of it all.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2018

        The downside, for the viewer & the questioner, is that whatever point he wants to get across often doesn’t answer the question.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 21, 2018

          He’s been awarded the Champion Looking After Provinces award.

          Oh hahahahaha !

          Reply
  6. Blazer

     /  June 21, 2018

    Getting to like Jones….hi farce is what the House is all about.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 21, 2018

      You’ve got some way to go before you get anywhere near liking Jones as much as he likes himself.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 21, 2018

        Don’t knock him. Blazer liking anyone, even a little bit, is a psychological work in progress.

        Reply
      • Ray

         /  June 21, 2018

        Fantastic burn Gezza!
        Please self award yourself Colonel of the Burns for the day.

        Reply
  1. Jones praises himself, speaking as a Minister — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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