Shane Jones makes ‘chilling’ threats against journalist

Minister of Self Promotion Shane Jones has made disturbing threats against Stuff journalist Hamish Rutherford.

Rutherford:  Bunny boiler jokes aside, Shane Jones’ threats could be chilling

On Monday, in an interview with Morning Report, Shane Jones, possibly the most forceful personality currently in New Zealand’s Parliament, described me as a “bunny boiler”.

Whatever he means by that, I would have happily let that pass.

But Jones also described me as “unethical”, a more serious claim which he has not clarified, despite implying that he might use parliamentary privilege to say more – an ancient right MPs have to say literally whatever they want without legal repercussions, so long as they say it in the House.

It is an ancient and important right. But I understood, at its core, was the need to promote free speech, not to stifle it.

This has led to a difficult couple of days. I have not been able to defend myself as I have not known what the accusations might be.

Jones (or any MP) could say anything at all about me, or you, with no legal comeback.

It is extraordinary for Jones to make ‘unethical’ accusations and threaten to use parliamentary privilege to say more.

This all came after I published a story on Sunday, which revealed that Jones sat in a meeting and provided reassurances to his ministerial colleagues about a project he had declared a conflict of interest in.

That project, Manea, Footprints of Kupe, a proposed cultural centre in Opononi, is in line to get up to $4.6 million in taxpayer funding.

The story also highlighted what I believe were inconsistencies about his statements about what exactly his interest was and whether his statements to Parliament were, with the benefit of hindsight, accurate.

Jones’ office tried to shut down questions on the project in 2018 and Jones has equivocated about whether he knew that the project’s supporters were using his name as they tried to apply for taxpayer funding in 2015.

Jones has drawn more attention to all of this rather than shut it down by trying to scare Rutherford off.

The fact that no-one from the Government has properly shot down Jones’ threat to malign me in Parliament will not deter me.

But it should be a chilling warning of the potential consequences for anyone planning to question this Government’s integrity.

Where does Jacinda Ardern stand on this?

RNZ:  Jacinda Ardern says Shane Jones’ remark on journalist is not appropriate

The prime minister says attacking a journalist in the House using parliamentary privilege is “ill-advised”.

Jacinda Ardern told Morning Report it would not be appropriate for Mr Jones to launch an attack on Rutherford.

“Ultimately I have, when asked, said that I did not believe that would be appropriate, and that’s my advice to Mr Jones.”

That really put Jones in his place – a place where he seems to be able to do and say as he pleases.

Labour allege English misled Parliament

Not surprisingly Labour is continuing their pressure on Bill English over his responses to the Todd Barclay isssue.

For some reason Grant Robertson is fronting this:  Bill English misleads Parliament on Police statement

Bill English’s attempt to restore his damaged credibility over the Todd Barclay affair has backfired after his claim to have “reported” Mr Barclay’s actions to Police has proven not to be true, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson.

“Yesterday in Parliament, Bill English claimed in response to a question from Andrew Little that he had ‘reported to Police’ the information he had that Todd Barclay had recorded his staff member. In fact Mr English had only spoken to Police after they had requested him to do so when they became aware that he had this information.

“Today, Mr English has been forced to admit that he did not initiate contact with Police. In Parliament Gerry Brownlee speaking on the Prime Minister’s behalf said he had been ‘imprecise’ in his answer.

“That is not good enough, and I am writing to the Speaker today to ask him to assess if there has been a breach of Parliamentary privilege.

“Bill English was trying to make out to the New Zealand public that he had done the right thing when he found out what Todd Barclay had done. That is not true. He only spoke to Police because they requested it.

“This fits with the whole way Bill English has dealt with this matter. He not told New Zealanders the truth about his involvement, and he has allowed Todd Barclay to mislead the public as well.

“New Zealanders need to know that their leaders will act honestly, ethically and with integrity. Bill English has failed that test,” says Grant Robertson.

This seems a fairly lame attempt to me, playing with semantics. Surely there are stronger grounds with which to hold English to account.