Shane Jones denies conflict of interest accusations

Putting Shane Jones in charge of a billion dollars a year of handouts through the Provincial Growth Fund was always going to be both a financial and a political risk.

And it was always going to be scrutinised by political opponents, especially with the amount of money being poured into Jones’ home province, Northland.

RNZ: Shane Jones denies conflict of interest in funding decision

Cabinet Minister Shane Jones is denying his role in a decision to fund a group from the regional growth fund is a conflict of interest.

Before he became minister Mr Jones was involved in plans to build Manea Footprints of Kupe, a culture heritage and education centre in Northland.

He declared a conflict of interest in the project when he became a Minister in November 2017.

But in February 2018 he attended a meeting of Ministers where he spoke about the project, providing reassurances about its management.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson then approved a $4.6 million grant, despite Treasury recommending it not go ahead.

Mr Jones said he gave only factual information at the meeting and was not otherwise involved in the decision.

National MP Paul Goldsmith…

…said the Prime Minister must demand answers from Mr Jones.

“If you’ve declared a conflict of interest you shouldn’t be in the room,” Mr Goldsmith said.

“He was in the room, responding to questions, we don’t know to what extent, and so he’s left himself wide open to perceived conflicts of interest and not doing things as they should be done.”

Act leader David Seymour…

…said the Prime Minister must sack Mr Jones over his involvement in the project.

Mr Seymour said it was “completely inappropriate” for Mr Jones to be involved in the meeting which decided to grant the project $4.6m.

In an answer to a Parliamentary question, Mr Jones said he had attended no formal meetings about the project since becoming a Minister.

He said Mr Jones’ misleading answer showed he is not fit for ministerial office and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has no choice but to sack him.

Stuff: Prime Minister rejects calls to sack Shane Jones, saying conflict was managed

Jacinda Ardern says she will not sack Shane Jones, after it was revealed the NZ First Minister took part in a key funding meeting for a project he had earlier declared a conflict of interest in.

Documents show Jones, the Regional Development Minister, sat in on a funding meeting where a group of Cabinet colleagues approved up to $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, providing reassurances about the governance of the plan.

“Based on both the information and advice I’ve received, the conflict of interest was managed in accordance with the Cabinet Manual so therefore I would have no cause to sack Minister Jones”, the Prime Minister said in a statement.

Jones defended staying in the meeting in taking part, saying he had disclosed his interest, which satisfied is responsibilities, although he acknowledged there was a “school of thought” that would consider he should have left the meeting.

“I don’t believe my presence in any meeting with three other powerful ministers has any deterrent effect.”

He has dismissed documents from Manea’s proponents suggesting he was proposed to be the chairman of an entity to facilitate the project.

“I don’t care what the documents said, that was just wishful thinking on the part of the people of Hokianga.”

Act MP David Seymour called for Jones to be sacked as a minister and has written to the auditor-general asking for an investigation.

“Clare Curran was sacked for failing to disclose a meeting. Shane Jones has done exactly the same, the only difference being that Curran’s meeting had no consequence whereas Jones was decisive in $4.6 million of taxpayer money going to an organisation he’d previously been involved with,” Seymour said.

Jones will probably keep his job, for now at least, but these stories will keep nagging away at Government credibility and prudence in handing money out to Northland projects that he has had some connection to.

 

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43 Comments

  1. Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  12th March 2019

      Shane Jones: “I was never going to be chair of Manea – someone just put my name on a piece of paper”.

      Winston on 23 March 2015 (Pre Jone joining NZF):

      “Winston Peters says taxpayer cash is being used to grow large private companies rather than develop infrastructure.

      As part of his campaign for the Northland by-election, the NZ First leader visited the site for the planned Manea, footsteps of Kupe complex in Opononi, Hokianga.

      Peters said Manea – to be chaired by former Labour MP Shane Jones – would expand the tourism infrastructure in an area in need of development, but the TGP was instead focused on helping international airports attract more visitors from China.”

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67480869/null?fbclid=IwAR0B2JulDYk7DHsCvXeiS4GiWM-62vxP_dPfFKn0V1zv27XNB1meV-LTAY0

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  12th March 2019

      He didn’t know he was the Chair…and yet he chaired a meeting:

      Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  11th March 2019

    Ardern has neither the gumption nor the political space to fire Jones.

    CoL would fall apart.

    Basically Winston and NZ First run Labour ragged. With the Greens finally finding a voice (though highly misplaced one in making CGT a “must have” and only being a starter for greater taxation) how long before the CoL collapses?

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  11th March 2019

      Fire him for what? You’ve no doubt heard what it’s all about so can detail everything which means he should be sacked.

      Espiner right now is talking about perceptions. Any instance of being able to create perceptions of wrongdoing will be grasped, cultured and watered for all they are worth. Unfortunately facts and reality get flushed away in the fever.

      Don’t rely on perceptions, tell us exactly why Jones should go.

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  11th March 2019

        Worth a read duperez;

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/111154992/shane-jones-provided-reassurance-to-ministers-despite-declaring-conflict

        Mind you, why you don’t simply just peruse the news channels and get up to speed with current events is a question one could ask of you.

        Fact as written in the news channels is Jones declared a conflict of interests but remained in the meeting to provide reassurance on the funding for the project, instead of leaving the room.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  11th March 2019

          You no doubt heard Jones’ on RNZ with his response to the Rutherford piece.

          Peruse the news channels and get up to speed with current events? Surely not. All I need to do is hear David Seymour imply corruption and sackings and know that the true oil has been issued.

          Rutherford’s article takes me right back to my comments yesterday about the much despised (by some) Tova O’Brien.

          “The Bridges’ expenses thing was just an example of that (wanting something to happen, wanting something to write about). It was a fantastic coup for O’Brien. Someone gave her something that even on here we’re saying was nothing. The little pebble rolled down the hill and became a massive snowball. Which has melted down to nothing after engaging so many, so much, on its roll.”

          It’s all about perception. Opinions are flowing and some are trying to create the biggest stain possible. That’s what it’s about.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  11th March 2019

            The little pebble rolled down the hill and became a massive snowball. Which has melted down to nothing after engaging so many, so much, on its roll.”

            The allegations haven’t produced any prosecutions or official indication there was illegality by National yet. That remains a possiblity.

            Tova actively assisted in wrecking Jami-Lee Ross’s credibility, reputation, and career (possibly any useful career, for at least some time – he’ll have to become a veritable saint for 5 straight years minimum to have any hope of recovering any dignity and respect as a result of his adventures).

            Sarah Dowie is considered a femme fatale or worse and her reputation is in the gutter with JLR’s – some people won’t ever let that go.

            Bridges was exposed as a fool for the way he handled this. He is also exposed as disloyal to his own colleagues although the attempt to portray him as racist hasn’t worked.

            Chinese money and influence is prominently on the electoral radar now, for both National and Labour.

            Mallard appears suspect for the way he handled the situation.

            The mental health service and JLR’s engagement with it are suspect – he may be using patient confidentiality to feed everyone bs.

            People are watching JLR like a hawk in Parliament and out.

            There’s no way I would agree with your statement that this affair has amounted to nothing.

            Reply
      • Corky

         /  11th March 2019

        Seymour has said Clark would have sacked Jones. And as Bansksy loved to relate: you would hear the screaming and crumpling bodies down the corridor.

        It’s all about perceptions regardless of what is right or wrong, Dupez.

        Jones is just another National Party asset.

        Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  11th March 2019

    wonder why Key never fired Murray over the Saudi scandal.

    He broke every rule in the…book!

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  11th March 2019

      Good to see you still battling to retain the title of ‘king of whataboutism’ from that upstart Duker.

      As for Shane Jones – couldn’t be trusted with a govt credit card let alone billions of $ of taxpayer cash. Ardern just a mouthpiece for Winston & his mob to do as they please.

      Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  11th March 2019

      Blazing whataboutism squirrels…again!

      Oh look…they did it too!

      Does one bad cancel out another bad? Or excuse the second bad?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  11th March 2019

        were you screaming for McCully’s sacking…fat chance!

        Squirrels?…where you find Dale…Chip on’t be..far away!

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  11th March 2019

          Christ. As if the bloody sheep deal rort wasn’t enuf. >:D

          McCully’s involved in this venture as well? 😮

          Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  11th March 2019

          Yet more blazing squirrels…sad!

          Reply
  4. PartisanZ

     /  11th March 2019

    Oh woe is me … Imagine ‘Manea Footprints of Kupe’ – the only PGF project to directly benefit Te Hokianga (so far) – controversial though it is, actually bringing down the coalition government …

    How is it that ‘regional development’ – trying to provide legitimate work in the provinces – has become such a political football, with all attempts to do anything for [what even National’s Matt King recognizes as] ‘deprived communities’ being up for the most vicious political contention …

    How did it come to this?

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  11th March 2019

      As if I didn’t know …

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th March 2019

      1. Jones seeming to be spraying cash around his own electoral area with some projects not convincingly worth it.

      2. People not seeing any business cases & evaulations of these, so, especially given some of the other Ministers concerned are novices and noddies, not convinced they’re actually going to deliver any or many worthwhile future jobs, training and & strengthen development of self-sustaining regional economies.

      3. Jones is in charge.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  11th March 2019

        Not as much ‘cash’ [about a third in fact] or ‘election bribe’ as a mythical four lane motorway between Auckland and Whangarei … which no impartial “business evaluation” would ever approve …

        But since there is no such thing as “impartial business evaluation” where government spending is concerned, smaller more localized projects like Manea – of far greater cost-benefit ‘worth’ – have fuck all chance either …

        It’s a merry-go-round of provincial neglect and I think its because the concept ‘regional development’ is anathema to broader neoliberal ideology … which abdicates communal responsibility in favour of “every man for himself” …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  11th March 2019

          It’s an Opposition standard though, Parti. Doesn’t matter who the government of the day gives money too it’s: “Favouring their mates (somehow), it’s “corruption in any other country”, pork barreling, stinks to high heaven (or words to that general effect), hopelessly unsound, blatant vote buying, never going to pay off etc.

          I’ve got no problem with regions getting money for training, illiteracy remediation, self-sustainable employment ventures, getting nephs off the couch and them gaining some self-respect and earnings they can be proud of instead of putting up with people calling them bludgers and druggies and wasters & thugs and so on.

          But I don’t want to see that money disappear into the ether and those getting it having nothing to show for it at the end but a fat bank balance or a 5 figure betting tab and a Maserati.

          It only takes one for the Maori-bashers to start frothing & the msm to start drooling over the furore they can create. I wish any project that’s worth it every success.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  11th March 2019

            Fair enough … although I think “worth it” is a rather broad church …

            No-one ever asks about the “betting tab and Maserati” of the fat-cats at Fletcher Construction who stand to benefit humungously from Four Lanes to Whangarei …

            I reckon there should be a category at the other end of the income scale from your “bludgers, druggies, wasters and thugs” … people who might be described as “Robber Barons” or “Corporate Fuckers” etc etc …

            Reply
      • duperez

         /  11th March 2019

        Jones doesn’t have an electorate as a List MP does he? As he’s from the north and stood in Whangarei I suppose it’s reasonable he splashes some money around the region. He’ll be hard-pressed to find any bridges to widen mind you.

        The Whangarei newspaper won’t need any help either. Jones helps them a bit by advertising with them but National has really been stirred into visibility and not counting the elections, Reti and King have probably advertised more in 18 months than National did in the previous 18 years.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  11th March 2019

          You got that last bit right duperez … See the ‘Head Students in Schools’ feature last week … bookended with full-page Bluer-than-Blue adverts from King and Reti … paid for by Parliamentary Services …

          I notice they’ve dropped ‘Four Lanes – not sticks’ from their ads lately in favour of complaining that MenW vaccine isn’t available for certain age-groups of children …

          Reply
  5. Gerrit

     /  11th March 2019

    And as expected Ardern hides behind;

    “I don’t believe my presence in any meeting with three other powerful ministers has any deterrent effect.”

    ” Jones defended staying in the meeting in taking part, saying he had disclosed his interest, which satisfied is responsibilities, although he acknowledged there was a “school of thought” that would consider he should have left the meeting.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/111175270/prime-minister-rejects-calls-to-sack-shane-jones-saying-conflict-was-managed

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  11th March 2019

      expert opinion on RNZ says there are insufficient grounds for sacking Jones.

      Disappointing for the rabid right and their selective…principles.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  11th March 2019

        Of course there’s insufficient grounds … It’s nothing but political posturing …

        Interesting though because it identifies those who are NOT interested in regional development …

        Let the provinces live or die by the neoliberal sword …

        Their neglected roads choked with Wilding Pine, Privet, Arundo Donax and Pampas … Who gives a fuck, so long as the roads are passable by milk tankers and logging trucks …?

        Reply
      • Corky

         /  11th March 2019

        You got that right, Blazer.

        Reply
    • Kel

       /  11th March 2019

      The SFO will be kept busy for decades by the end of Jones’ time in this gig investigating the money doled out to many recipients.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  12th March 2019

        the SFO can’t keep up with the complaints they already have.

        Something like 800 complaints not addressed-lack of resources!

        Reply
  6. Finbaar Rustle

     /  11th March 2019

    Premier League football managers get huge pay outs even if they fail.
    Then 6 months later get rehired by another club
    making the same promises that failed at the last club.
    Shane Jones and Winston Peters are two of New Zealand’s
    most prolific League managers.
    Geniuses in their own lunch time.
    For decades these affable master raconteurs
    have convinced an endless stream of corporations and political parties
    to pour billions into their their can’t fail projects.
    The fact that most of these get rich schemes have simply poured
    billions into cavernous sink holes has not deterred any one.
    Peters and Jones are rehired immediately by another
    rich entity charmed by snake oil and cure all’s only to see said
    pot of gold turn to straw in no time at all.
    Yet Peters and Jones remain untainted by any past “misfortune”
    and their popularity among the masses remains high.
    It has been said that what Jones and Peters know about the economy
    can be written on a pin head with a yard broom but equally true
    is the fact that what Peters and Jones know about fooling people
    into believing they are economic geniuses could fill a terabyte hard drive.
    Why are new Zealanders so dumb?

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  11th March 2019

      FR … Master of absurdity … Their popularity remains at about 5% …

      Reply
      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  11th March 2019

        National got 50% of the vote
        Labour got 40%.
        NZF first got 7.5%.
        Which party decided the election?
        It wasn’t the top two by the way.
        Just in case you still have not figured it out yet Blazer
        the winner was a party with the initials NZF.

        Reply
  1. Shane Jones denies conflict of interest accusations — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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