Jacinda Ardern versus Shane Jones

It looks like Shane Jones chances of getting help from Labour in the Northland electorate are not flash. Jacinda Ardern took a swipe at Jones yesterday, and Jones responded.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urges voters to condemn Shane Jones’ comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered her strongest rebuking of NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones yet, suggesting that if he was a Labour MP, he would face demotion.

She also urged voters to condemn Jones’ comments – which have been labelled “racist” and “irresponsible” by the Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon – and to “act on their values when it comes to election time”.

“We are in an election year and that has, I think, driven electioneering out of some of the different parties that are in Parliament – that includes parties in the Government.”

What she had already said publicly was the “strongest condemnation I could possibly give [Jones’] comments”.

She again cited the fact that Jones being in a different party to Labour as the reason why she has not gone further in her reprimand.

“If I had a member within my own party making statements like that, I would have a very obvious ability and course of action that I could take,” she said.

“I could demote, I could reprimand; [there is] a range of things that I could do.”

But all those things were off the table because – although Jones is one of her ministers – he is in a different political party.

Interview transcript (The Spinoff) : Not fair to punish me for the opinions of others: Jacinda Ardern talks to the Indian Weekender

‘If this is not racism, what is?’ NZ Indian community leaders on Shane Jones

Challenged this week over Shane Jones’s comments about Indian students, NZ First Party leader and deputy prime minister Winston Peters insisted that he had been ‘expressing the views of some in the local Indian community’. This week the Indian Weekender newspaper editor Sandeep Singh sought the views of the community directly. Here’s what they said

Shane Jones responds to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments on Indian students saga

“I’m not going to accept the Indian radicals shutting me down … I’m surprised by the over-reaction … initially a lot of the pressure against me has come from the radicals in the Indian community.”

However, he’d “never, ever engage in a slanging match with the Prime Minister”.

“She’s a brilliant politician and when the Prime Minister speaks she never says anything wrong, but there is a difference in perspective between what New Zealand First would like to see in terms of these dodgy language schools and the flow of immigration into New Zealand, and from our other two parties, and I accept that’s just the MMP rub.”

He understood the Prime Minister was disappointed.

“But hey I’m a 60-year-old generational style politician and I’m not going to accept that the Indian activists and the Indian radicals are going to close me down as a racist.

“My whakapapa in New Zealand goes back a thousand years and I’ll be taking not one iota of difference from the Indian radicals.”

Asked if the coalition agreement prevented Ardern from disciplining him, Jones said his comments “have nothing to do with the business of me being a regional development minister”.

“This is an MMP environment. I’ve done nothing more than state something our party was elected to push forward, which was a more measured population policy.”

This will likely continue to play out at least up to the election.

New threats directed at mosque being investigated

New threats have been made online against the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch that was the target of a mass shooting nearly a year ago.

While online attacks on Muslims have continued since the massacre I think this latest threat is more likely to strengthen defence and support of Muslims in New Zealand.

Stuff:  Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque photographed in terror threat

Members of Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque have increased their security measures following an apparent terror threat, two weeks before the first anniversary of the March 15 attack in which 51 worshippers were gunned down.

The threat was issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque.

A police spokeswoman has confirmed an investigation into the threat is under way.

The threat and accompanying photo was posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.

The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque can be seen.

In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque.

The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, is also used in the message.

The image was posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack.

A very small minority involved, but this is still insidious.

RNZ: Muslims on high alert after report of threat against Christchurch mosque

On Sunday, members of the Al Noor Mosque were the subject of a reported terror threat, which police are investigating.

The Islamic Women’s Council’s national co-ordinator, Anjum Rahman, said the threat was the fourth she was aware of since the attacks.

“We have been talking to authorities for some months, since last year, definitely, about preparations coming into 15 March,” Rahman said.

“Absolutely, we were expecting this and possibly worse things.”

Rahman said racist and xenophobic extremists were emboldened by the 15 March attack.

“There were two things that happened after the mosque attacks,” she said.

“The first was that huge outpouring of solidarity and support, but the other thing that happened at the same time was that people that were that way inclined felt emboldened and strengthened and more connected.

“The negative and hateful commentary online has not stopped, and I believe it influences the way these people think.”

She said the current political environment meant that people “who aren’t the targets of these kinds of threats have a louder voice than those who are vulnerable to them”.

It’s not just anonymous online extremists being called out.

Newsroom: Jones’ attacks on Indian students a timely reminder

It is extraordinary that as we approach the one-year anniversary of a devastating terror attack at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist, a senior politician has directed an inflammatory broadside against the Indian student community in New Zealand.

Shane Jones, the New Zealand First Minister for Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development in the Labour-led Coalition Government, said on Saturday New Zealand’s current immigration policy is “unfettered” and specifically attacked students from India who, in his view, “have ruined many of those [academic] institutions” they have attended in this country.

While this is not the first time prominent figures have resorted to xenophobic dog whistle politics in an election year, the Christchurch atrocity highlighted the very real dangers of allowing such narratives to go unchallenged.

But Jones’ comments on Saturday are a reminder that some New Zealand politicians still do not recognise that the battle against extremism after Christchurch begins at home and that there is a responsibility to refrain from words and actions that encourage intolerance, exclusion and even violence.

In this context, not only are Jones’ words racist and inflammatory, they are also wrong. It is important to emphasise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support his specific allegations regarding Indian students, or other groups of international students more generally.

That was written by Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor and Robert Patman, a Professor of International Relations, both from the University of Otago.

Prime Minister Ardern has ‘reprimanded’ Jones but he seems unrepentant, saying he has a mandate from NZ First to ‘contually speak’ about immigration – see Ardern says Jones was loose and wrong, but Jones unrepentant.

Police say they expect to take action over the person or people involved in the latest threats made against Al Noor mosque.

Ardern says Jones was loose and wrong, but Jones unrepentant

Shane Jones made controversial comments on Newshub in the weekend that have been labeled racist – see Shane Jones accused of stoking racism and embarrassing Peters.

Both his leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were out of the country then. Yesterday back in New Zealand Ardern said that Jones was loose with his words and wrong.

RNZ: PM Jacinda Ardern publicly reprimands Shane Jones over Indian immigrant remarks:

Over the weekend, Jones told the Newshub Nation he wanted a “maximum population”, and New Zealand needed to think about the kind of country we wanted.

“If you want another million, two million, three million people, we should debate it and there should be a mandate, rather than opening up the options, unfettered, and everyone comes here from New Delhi.

“I don’t like that idea at all. I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he told Newshub Nation.

Ardern said…

…Jones was not in the Cabinet meeting today, but she planned to have a strong word with him.

“On many occasions I’ve witnessed Minister Jones be both loose with his language and also be wrong, and on this occasion he was both”.

“I take that very seriously, which is why I’m very, very clear I totally disagree with Shane Jones, I will be telling him that, and I will also be asking him to reconsider the way he talks about these issues in the future because I do not believe it is good for New Zealand”.

Ardern said while she had been advised the comments did not have any impact on the trip or New Zealand’s relationship with India, it went beyond that, because it affected our local community.

Advised by Peters? Or by David Parker, who really fudged around questioning on RNZ.

Jones’ outburst came as Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Minister Winston Peters – Jones’ boss – were in India discussing ways to strengthen ties.

This morning Parker dodged questions from Morning Report’s Susie Fergusson about whether Jones’ comments were unhelpful.

“I’d make the point that when you’re having a debate about population you’ve got to be careful about language,” he said.

Parker refused to say whether the comments were racist or dog-whistle politics.

“I actually get on with Shane Jones well and when I think he’s gone too far I tell him privately,” he said.

However, he would not say if this was such an occasion.

Simon Bridges criticisms are likely to be largely lost in a long list of whinges.

Waitakere Indian Association President Sunil Kaushal said Jones’ comments were racist and Ardern needed to ensure this sentiment didn’t keep being repeated.

“This is a three-strikes-out kind of a thing, you know, she needs to really have a chat with her Cabinet and the leader of Shane Jones’ party that his behaviour is unacceptable in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, diversity inclusive New Zealand. This is not who we are,” he said.

Jones acts like an unrestrained loose cannon. In January: Demands Shane Jones apologise over ‘sexist’ Pania Newton comments. I don’t remember seeing any retraction or apology after that.

Stuff reports that Jones is unrepentant, suggesting that he was mandated by NZ First to “continually” speak about a “maximum population policy” the party intends to bring to the public in the election year – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Shane Jones was ‘loose’ and ‘wrong’.

But Jones… quickly turned the reprimand into an opportunity to electioneer.

When the Prime Minister speaks, on behalf of the Government, she is never wrong. But my remarks need to be seen through the prism of an MP on an election year,” he told Stuff.

“I’ll take it on the chin.”

Jones said the NZ First caucus had mandated him to “continually” speak about a “maximum population policy” the party intends to bring to the public in the election year.

The details of such any such policy were left vague. Jones said the public needed to discuss what the right mix of character, skills or talent migrants should bring to New Zealand, and how many should come.

He said claims his stance on immigration was racist, or that he was inelegantly discussing the matter was “a perception that I now have to manage”.

It seems to be a perception he has deliberately put out in the public.

And it appears that once again Jones couldn’t give a stuff about ‘stern’ reprimands from the Prime Minister. Being a responsible minister this term seems less important to him than trying to return to Parliament next term.

Another headline this morning to the same article on Jones attack on Indians: ‘This is not who we are’ – PM repudiates Jones’ remarks – but blatantly sexist and racist seems very much who Jones is.

It looks like he, and presumably Peters, are hoping there are enough racists and sexists who don’t feel betrayed by NZ First support of a Labour-led government will vote for NZ First to rescue them from political oblivion.

The problem with alienating various groups is it reduces the pool of voters who may vote for you.

Shane Jones accused of stoking racism and embarrassing Peters

Foreign students have been a significant part of tertiary education in New Zealand for some time, educationally and economically.

The Spinoff:  The vicious hidden message in Shane Jones’ blast at students from New Delhi

On the face of it that might seem like just the usual blast on the xenophobic dog whistle, a sequel to his recent attack on Indian arranged marriages. But Shane Jones is a Harvard graduate, a political whiz, a brainiac. He operates on intellectual plains imperceptible to mere mortals. What if there is something else going on, someone else in his sights?

What if there is someone who is currently on their way to New Zealand after being in New Delhi? Someone who had been there to big up the place of Indian students in New Zealand, no less?

There is such a person.

Before departing for the world’s biggest democracy, this man said he was “seriously committed to strengthening New Zealand’s relationship with India”.

He arrived in New Delhi clutching a glossy brochure called India-New Zealand 2025: Investing in the Relationship.

The document lists among New Zealand’s ambitions: “Support strong growth in services trade by attracting more high value visitors from India, and enhance education opportunities and experiences for Indian and New Zealand students.”

In the document the man in question writes: “India matters globally, regionally and nationally. New Zealand recognises this and is committing to greater investment in the relationship … The Indian diaspora already makes up 5% of New Zealand’s population and is growing. Indian immigrants and students contribute skills and diversity to New Zealand’s economy and our communities.”

He adds: “New Zealand has benefited from skilled migrants, student exchanges, and rapid increases in tourist numbers from India.”

In the light of all this – which Jones, as a voracious reader would have known – is this man the target for this morning’s broadside at, you know, students from India?

It’s not haard to work out who ‘this man’ is.

Northeast Today – New Zealand recognizes India as one of the fastest growing economies: Deputy PM Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand Winston Peters said that his country recognizes India as one of the fastest growing economies with second largest population.

Peters and New Zealand Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker chaired the New Zealand-India Trade for All session at Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai on Friday.

Peters added that India plays an important role on world stage. He also said that New Zealand is committed to invest more in its relationship with India.

So while Jones is obviously playing to an audience in New Zealand, like…

…it also seems ill-time at best, and has been called out as undermining Winston Peters.

On Thursday, the man paid a special visit to the New Zealand Centre at the India Institute of Technology. According to a local report, he said: “Education is one of the key pillars bilateral relationship between New Zealand and India.”

So who is he? Who is this man who has had a continent of shade cast upon him by Mr Shane Jones?

It is, of course, the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and leader of the New Zealand First Party, the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

It is also another embarrassment for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has seemed unable to assert any authority over Jones.

Drip feed continues on NZ First Foundation donations

The media drip feed continues as more details have been published about donations to the NZ First Foundation.

Yesterday RNZ: Concerns over secret fisheries donations to NZ First Foundation

One of the country’s biggest fishing companies, Talley’s, and its managing director donated nearly $27,000 to the New Zealand First Foundation, which has been bankrolling the New Zealand First Party.

The foundation received $26,950 from seafood giant Talley’s and from managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019, according to records viewed by RNZ.

It received the money from Talley’s in four amounts – all of which were below the threshold for public disclosure and so have not been publicly revealed until now.

Greenpeace was concerned by the donations and believed the New Zealand First Party had too much sway over fishing policy and the party was too close to the industry.

These don’t seem big amounts or a big deal, nor a surprise. I think Talleys and the fishing industry have are well known to have supported NZ First. The difference here is that donations are allegedly being hidden by channelling them via the Foundation rather than to the party where public declarations are required.

Today at Stuff:  Billionaires among the full list of donors supporting NZ First

A raft of multimillionaire rich-listers are among the funders of Winston Peters’ NZ First party, donating large and undisclosed sums to a slush fund now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

Stuff can reveal a longer list of donors to the NZ First Foundation up to April 2019 – which appears to operate as a political slush fund – based on Foundation documents seen by Stuff. It includes New Zealand’s richest man, Graeme Hart, and the billion-dollar Spencer family.

Business magnates, property developers, a chicken farmer, and thoroughbred horse breeders are among the wealthy known to have contributed heavily to the foundation, which tallied more than $500,000 in donations.

There is no suggestion the donors have done anything wrong or acted illegally.

Former NZ First MP Doug Woolerton, a trustee of the NZ First Foundation and a government lobbyist, told the Politik website last year that the party has “always thought [its] constituency was the guy who owns the shop, the guy who fixes the tractors”.

“It’s not the farmers. It’s the people who service the farmers who do the grunt work day to day,” he said.

But the donations show NZ First retains the support of some of New Zealand’s business elite and wealthiest individuals.

A WORKING-CLASS PARTY

Despite gathering financial support from New Zealand’s lofty elite, NZ First maintains it is the party dedicated to meeting the needs of working-class Kiwis.

Newshub yesterday: Shane Jones concerned New Zealand First donors will be put-off in election year

Shane Jones is concerned about donors to New Zealand First being “depicted as some type of leper” as new revelations emerge about donations to the New Zealand First Foundation.

The NZ First MP said he is “genuinely not aware” of the functioning of the NZ First Foundation, which is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over allegations it’s been hiding donations for the party.

Jones said he’s worried about a “clear agenda” designed to “spook and quite frankly stigmatise industries” that New Zealand First relies on for support as a political party.

There may be a bit of that, but politicians under scrutiny often claim to be the victims of agendas. Winston Peters has often claimed to be a victim of the media and other things.

But none of this would have happened if NZ First hadn’t use a Foundation to, apparently, hide donations.

The Electoral Commission announced earlier this month that following an investigation it found the NZ First Foundation had “received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party”.

The Electoral Commission referred the matter to police who then referred it to the SFO which confirmed this month that an investigation had been launched.

Jones, a Cabinet minister, said he “accepts that there is a statutory process in place”.

He told Newshub: “I genuinely feel as an MP that people who think that I represent a force for good in New Zealand politics and the economy… I’m very concerned that they may be depicted as some type of leper.”

Jones does have a history of involvement in the fisheries sector, having chaired Te Ohu Kaimoana – the Māori Fisheries Commission – and seafood company Sealord.

The Minister for Regional Economic Development said he has nothing to hide, pointing to a donation he received from Talley’s in 2017 for $10,000 which was declared in his electorate candidate donation expenses form.

“It’s a matter of public record that over the course of various elections I have received donations from the fishing industry,” Jones told Newshub.

“My role of advocacy for fishing, the red meat industry, for the mining industry – it’s an open book… I will never shirk or shy away from standing up for industry.”

It is unclear how much NZ First MPs knew about the Foundation.  Even Peters claimed to know nothing about it, but his story keeps changing, he also claims to know everything the Foundation didn’t do.

There have been suggestions that the Foundation effectively managed party finances and donations without the party officials being involved at all. Some officials have resigned over it, and may be the source of the information being revealed.

It seems unlikely the SFO case will get to court before the election. There’s even doubt whether they will announce whether they will prosecute, they are currently just investigating.

It has been claimed that the Foundation paid expenses on behalf of the Party. Somme of those details could be interesting.

Poll – replacement NZ First leader (plus more donations drip feeding)

At this stage there is no indication that Winston Peters will step down as Deputy Prime Minister pending the SFO investigation into how the NZ First Foundation has been dealing with donations. Peters has both distanced himself saying he has nothing to do with the foundation, but has also said he knows the foundation has bone nothing wrong and has been doing all the media releases and interviews in relation to the issue.

And there is no indication that Winston Peters is ready to step down as leader of NZ First or to retire from politics. He doesn’t exactly look like an energizer bunny but politically he just keeps on going (with the occasional top up of voter energy after things have gone flat).

But regardless, Newshub decided to do some polling on a replacement NZ First leader – Who Kiwis think should be NZ First leader if Winston Peters stands down

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters were asked for their thoughts on who should take over if Peters ever stands down as New Zealand First leader.

Thee results are quite mixed.

  • Ron Mark: 17.9%
  • Shane Jones: 14.5%
  • Tracey Martin: 13.8%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 3.6%

The three most popular are the three most prominent NZ First MPs. All are ministers. Jones is by far the most visible (he does a lot of attention seeking), but interesting to see Mark top the poll, as he has been a much more quiet worker.

Results from NZ First voters must be suspect as the sample must be quit small, with only 3.6% preferring the party in the poll.

  • Ron Mark: 34.4%
  • Shane Jones: 18.5%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 13.6%
  • Tracey Martin: 2.9%

So Jones doesn’t seem very popular even amongst the few NZ First voters polled. This doesn’t mean much, but it’s a bit interesting.

Peters has always been leader of NZ First, the Peters is sometimes referred to as Winston First.

Tracey Martin was chosen as deputy leader of NZ First on 14 February 2013.

Ron Mark challenged her and was selected to replace her on 3 July 2015.

Fletcher Tabuteau replaced Mark as leader on 27 February 2018.

Meanwhile Simon Bridges hasn’t ruled out working with Winston Peters forever:

It would be ridiculous making a commitment on this for future elections, so this means less than the replacement leader polling.


Meanwhile the donations story continues to drip feed, despite Peters saying he was slaying a complaint with the police over the ‘theft’ of information from the Foundation  he has nothing to do with.

RNZ: NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from donors in horse racing industry

The New Zealand First Foundation has been receiving tens of thousands of dollars from donors in the horse racing industry in payments which fall just below the $15,000.01 at which party donations are usually made public.

As racing minister, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has delivered significant benefits to the industry, including millions of dollars of government money spent on tax breaks and scrapping betting levies.

Records viewed by RNZ show one of the big donors was the Lindsay family. Brendan Lindsay sold the plastic storage container business Sistema for $660 million in late 2016 and a year later bought Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud.

Three lots of $15,000 were deposited into the bank account of the New Zealand First Foundation on 11 October, 2018, according to records viewed by RNZ.

One of the donations was in Brendan Lindsay’s own name and one was in the name of his wife, Jo Lindsay. There was a third deposit made that same day listed as Lindsay Invest Donation.

The year before – in the 2017 election year – Brendan Lindsay also donated $15,000. On the same day there is another deposit for $15,000 listed as Lindsay Trust Donation. Both were banked by the New Zealand First Foundation on 5 May, 2017.

Brendan Lindsay told RNZ, via email, that neither he nor his wife were aware of the Foundation.

Spreading payments between related people and entities all just below the disclosure threshold looks designed to avoid the law. Time will tell whether it is actually illegal or not, but can have an appearance of being deliberately deceitful.


 

Political posturing and petulance at Waitangi

In the past it was common at Waitangi for protesters to target politicians with posturing and petulance, but yesterday it was political leaders doing the dick waving.

Simon Bridges walked onto the lower marae with an expression that appeared to attempt an air of gravitas, but was closer to ass. he seemed to think that a four lane highway was a priority for Northland Maori.

Winston Peters manouvered James Shaw and smirked, then pulled rank on Shane Jones to take over his speaking slot, characteristically laughing at his own humour, but claiming he was incensed at Bridges (and the media) politicising the day, as he further politicised the day.

And Shane Jones took politics further, saying he intended to ‘take down National in Northland’.

One News:

Newshub:  New Zealand First’s Shane Jones reveals plan to take down National in Northland

Relations between Simon Bridges and Winston Peters have gone from frosty to arctic at Waitangi, and this might make things worse: Shane Jones has exclusively revealed to Newshub there’s a plan afoot to take down National in Northland, with him at the centre of it.

Jones, the self-proclaimed champion of the regions and boy from the north, has put in a bid with his party to run in Northland, the seat his boss Winston Peters – leader of New Zealand First – seized from National in 2015 but lost to them again in 2017.

The rift between New Zealand First and National escalated to all-out war at Waitangi on Tuesday when politicians were welcomed onto the upper marae.

Peters didn’t pretend to hide his disdain, laughing and ridiculing National leader Simon Bridges right through his speech. Even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern got caught in the act, sharing a giggle with veteran Maori activist Titewhai Harawira.

And when Bridges’ speech wrapped, Peters refused to stand.

This confirms that Bridges had no choice but to rule doing any sort of post election deal with NZ First, but Peters seems to think that isn’t a solid commitment.

RNZ: Winston Peters convinced National Party would be open to coalition

Winston Peters says he knows for a fact the National Party will still be open to coalition talks with New Zealand First after the election, despite the party’s leader Simon Bridges ruling it out.

Bridges says he can’t trust Peters and his caucus is united behind his decision to rule out working with New Zealand First.

Any credibility Bridges may have by the election would be annihilated if he changed his mind after the election.

The BFD (Whale Oil renamed to avoid legal and financial issues) is still pimping for Peters and NZ First. They seem to think that Bridges could be rolled and he and Paula Bennett (and everyone else who Lusk and Slater don’t like) dumped after the election and a new leadership would join force with Peters. That’s as likely as Slater shedding his political toxicity.

And Jacinda Ardern has indicated that Labour won’t help Jones and NZ First in Northland.

RNZ: No NZ First -Labour electoral pact in Northland – Ardern

Ardern said Labour would not be stepping aside for New Zealand First in Northland.

“I didn’t do deals last election, I have no plans to do deals this election,” she said.

When asked if Prime will be campaigning at full capacity Ardern said “you can bet on that”.

So National has ruled out NZ First, and Ardern has ruled out helping NZ First. I think that Labour has to play hardball in their own interests, cosying up to Peters and Jones would damage their chances of retaining power.

Talking of power, Ardern would have much more of it as Prime Minister if she didn’t have Peters dictating to her as virtual co-leader (who thinks he deserves to be the boss).

And with Bridges trying to look serious and instead looking silly as he jousts with Peters and Jones, The antics at Waitangi may be a signal that the day of the dick waver is over.

Ardern usually does well at big events, and after yesterday without doing anything but be there her re-election chances look quite a lot better.

Shane Jones diverts to copious meat eating as further questions raised about company links

This story seems to keep coming up, with more suggestions that Shane Jones must have known more than he has admitted about a NZ First linked company’s application for Provincial Growth Fund money.

I wonder if this is and attempt at diversion: NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones takes aim at ‘eco-bible-bashing’ climate-change activists

Outspoken NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones has launched a scathing attack on climate-change activists who want Kiwis to eat less meat, blasting their form of “eco bible bashing”.

He has compared them to “medieval torture chamber workers” and has vowed to rally against this sort of “absolutism” as Election 2020 draws closer.

His comments come after the Government, of which he is a Minister, announced school children would be taught about climate change in class.

Suggesting people eat less meat (which for most is good for your health) is nothing like ‘absolutism’, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

“I won’t be desisting from eating copious qualities of kaimoana [seafood] or meat – that’s how I grew up”…

…is a surprising stance (if he’s actually serious) from someone who looks to have an obesity problem.

A heart attack from clogged up arteries would be a sort of absolutism if fatal.

Back to more questions about his absolutism denials unravelling some more: NZ First-linked company in government loan bid says it met with Shane Jones

A forestry company with close links to New Zealand First says it gave a presentation to Shane Jones about a project it was seeking a $15 million government loan for – months before Jones says he first heard of it.

When NZ Future Forest Products (NZFFP) applied for Provincial Growth Fund money on 8 April, 2019, the company was asked whether the project had been “previously discussed” with the government.

The application form shows NZFFP ticked the ‘yes’ box and said it had made a “presentation to the Minister” about its forestry and wood processing plans “including descriptions of the applicant”.

Jones, a New Zealand First MP who is forestry minister and the minister responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, has consistently claimed he first heard about the NZFFP bid on 14 October last year.

NZFFP’s directors include Brian Henry, lawyer to New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters, judicial officer of the party and one of two trustees of the New Zealand First Foundation, and NZ First leader Winston Peters’ partner Jan Trotman, who joined the company in August 2019.

Jones refused to be interviewed over the latest revelation but in a statement said the presentation never happened. “There was no presentation as described by the applicants,” he said.

The statement said Jones “did not have any Ministerial meetings to discuss the application”.

After being asked if he had any meetings at all with any NZFFP representatives in 2019, he responded in a statement “no”. He went on to say he was “not involved in PGF-related conversations with the Henrys under the guise of NZFFP”.

But in an interview with RNZ, David Henry, who is Brian Henry’s son and the NZFFP director who signed the application form, said the presentation was a 15-minute meeting he and Jones had in Wellington.

“We had a discussion with Shane. I think it was about a 15-minute chat. Whether you want to call it a briefing or a presentation – it was a short discussion generally about the New Zealand wood supply chain and what we personally believed.”

Take from that what you like.

I think that Jones has become as political slippery as Winston Peters.

 

More on the Shane Jones/NZ First conflict of interest

RNZ have revealed more information about the forestry company NZ Future Forest Products (closely linked to NZ First) that applied for $15 million of Provincial Growth Fun funds within two weeks of the company being formed.

The office of the Minister in charge of the PGF, Shane Jones, was sent documents about the bid five times over four months – why to his office rather than to the PGF office?

And Jones eventually declared a conflict of interest on 14 October, the same day RNZ asked questions via the Official Information Act. Jones claims the timing was a coincidence.

Jones claims not to have known that two people with close links to NZ First, long time friend of Winston Peters, personal and party lawyer and trustee of the NZ First Foundation Brian Henry, and Peters’ long time partner Jan Trotman, were directors of the company.

And he says that because a loan was not granted by the PGF (after Jones recused himself from decision making) none of this matters anyway. That is nonsense.

If it is to be believed that Jones didn’t know of the potential conflict of interest until the day he was OIA’d about it, which I think is quite a stretch, I think it is incredible that Henry and Trotman wouldn’t have declared their involvement to Jones and to Peters. They certainly should have.

RNZ (Audio): New details revealed on NZ First-linked company and Shane Jones’ office

New information released to RNZ reveals that Shane Jones’ office was sent documents about a forestry company’s bid for $15 million from the Provincial Growth Fund multiple times and many months before he declared a conflict of interest because of links between the company and the New Zealand First Party.

As Guyon Espiner explains, it has now emerged that Mr Jones only declared a conflict of interest over the NZ Future Forest Products bid on the day RNZ lodged an Official Information Act request asking for details of his involvement.

RNZ: New details revealed over NZ First-linked company and Shane Jones’ office

Shane Jones’ office received official documents about a forestry company’s bid for public money five times over four months, but the New Zealand First minister only declared a conflict of interest on the day RNZ began asking questions.

NZ Future Forest Products (NZFFP) – whose directors include Winston Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry and Mr Peters’ partner Jan Trotman – made an unsuccessful bid to borrow $15 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, which Mr Jones is responsible for.

Mr Jones has said he recused himself from the decision-making over the bid because of his long-standing relationship with Mr Henry, who is the judicial officer for NZ First as well as Mr Peters’ lawyer.

Documents provided to RNZ show Mr Jones wrote to the prime minister advising her of his conflict of interests on 14 October – the same day RNZ lodged an Official Information Act request with his office.

Mr Jones has told Parliament that he was only “formally” made aware of the NZFFP bid to the Provincial Growth Fund on 14 October.

But answers to written questions lodged by National MP Chris Bishop show Mr Jones’ office was sent documents mentioning NZFFP and its applications to the PGF on five occasions between 17 June and 9 October.

In total, documents relating to NZFFP were sent to Mr Jones’ office on six occasions between 17 June and 13 November – when the bid was turned down – but Mr Jones said he “personally” received only three of them.

The documents sent to Mr Jones’ office included advice from the Provincial Growth Fund’s Independent Advisory Panel, on 10 July, on the NZFFP bid.

Henry was a founding director of NZFPP was the company was incorporated on 27 March 2019. Trotman became a director on 27 August.

He said none of the documents went into detail about the bid nor disclosed the involvement of Brian Henry and his son David Henry, who is also a director of the company.

So why were all the documents sent, three of them ‘personally’ to Jones, without going into detail or disclosing potential conflicts of interest and without going into detail?

In an interview with RNZ today, Mr Jones reiterated that 14 October was the first date he was formally briefed about the proposal.

That’s the same day RNZ asked questions. He was also asked about it in Parliament on 22 November, and repeatedly refused to disclose when he first knew about the bid or the conflict of interest. From Shane Jones avoids answering questions properly in Parliament:

Hon SHANE JONES: April 8 was the date that the company’s application was lodged. I became aware that the company had applied to the Provincial Growth Fund on 14 October.

The company had been sending documents to Jones’ office (and three times to Jones personally) since 17 June, but Jones claims not to have become “aware that the company had applied to the Provincial Growth Fund” until 14 October. That claim appears to be misleading or false.

Hon SHANE JONES: I became aware of this formal application on 14 October. I have asked staff to ascertain in the wodge of papers that, time to time, wash up in my office, was there any reference at all to Mr Brian Henry in any application, and they have told me zero—that there was no reference whatsoever to that application from that individual.

Chris Bishop: Was he aware informally between 8 April and 14 October that Mr Henry and N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd had made an application to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat again, 14 October is a date of great significance. That is the date that I was formally notified of the application…

…So it is most important that the House focuses on the date of 14 October, when I was formally notified that an application was on its way to the Ministers…

Hon SHANE JONES: Until 14 October, I was not formally notified of the existence of an application. I am advised, however, that officials have put in reports the name of the company they were dealing with. Unfortunately, I had no idea who that company was…

Hon SHANE JONES: As I said, I am not aware of the detail—the extent—of any discussions between Mr Brian Henry or a company I had never heard of and did not recognise until such time as a formal duty fell upon me to make a decision. At that point, I recused myself. Then it was turned down, which is how the process works.

Chris Bishop: Why did David Henry email his office on 21 September about the project, and why didn’t he declare a conflict then?

Hon SHANE JONES: There is no conflict between myself and a Mr David Henry, an individual I might have met once or thrice. I have clearly stated that I have a longstanding relationship with Mr Brian Henry…

Jones must have known that David Henry was or may be related to Brian Henry.  RNZ:

In an interview with RNZ today, Mr Jones reiterated that 14 October was the first date he was formally briefed about the proposal.

“I have already said that my office received papers identifying name of the company but I had no idea that that company involved the personalities that apparently are the directors of that company.”

Again at least misleading, he had received an email from one of the directors on 21 September.

Answers to written questions also show that Mr Peters wrote to the prime minister on 14 October, the same day as Mr Jones did, declaring a conflict of interest in relation to the NZFFP bid.

If Trotman didn’t disclose to Peters that she was a director of a company applying for PGF funds she should have.

There were warnings of the risks of cronyism when the PGF was set up with Jones the Minister in charge of dishing out $3 billion.  This application by NZFFP has not helped perceptions of it being some sort of a slush fund

It seems a bit extraordinary Jones and Peters were completely unaware of the involvement of the Henrys and Trotman until the same day RNZ started asking questions, and Jones repeatedly refusing to answer questions about what he knew don’t help perceptions of some sort of impropriety.

I think it’s safe to assume that Jones knew more about this (‘informally’) than he has disclosed, there is  clear implication that’s the case.

And I think it seems negligent of Henry and Trotman not to disclose to Peters or Jones of their involvement in a PGF application. It certainly hasn’t looked good for NZ First.

And it doesn’t help the credibility of the Labour-NZ First coalition Government. The Greens aren’t involved directly, but their silence on this (as far as I’m aware), compared to what one could imagine their reaction would be to anything like this involving National or Act, suggests their standards can be compromised by being in power.

Hon Grant Robertson: Can the Minister confirm that N.Z. Future Forest Product Ltd’s application to the Provincial Growth Fund was declined?

That it was declined is immaterial to what happened during the application. Robertson has put himself in a position of appearing to approve of what happened.

Jacinda Ardern has appeared impotent on the behaviour and actions of one of her Ministers, Jones.

This story has been running alongside the revelation that Brian Henry is trustee of a Foundation that appears to be designed to hide donations to NZ First that would normally need to be declared.

Story behind the NZ First whistleblowing (Wine Box 2.0)

The big political story through the week (Stuff claim of the year) was the revelations of questionable handling of donations and finances by NZ First.

The Electoral Commission is investigating to see if anything illegal was done, but it at least appears to push party finance laws to the limit, and is widely seen to be contrary to the spirit of the laws, and stinks of a lack of transparency. This is more of an issue than usual with the amount of money being dished out behind the NZ First initiated Provincial Growth Fund, overseen by NZ First MP Shane Jones.

Journalist Matt Shand reveals some of the background behind the documents – which were provided in a wine box.

Stuff: A wine box, a deep throat and a dumpster – the trail that led to the NZ First donations scandal

Matt Shand broke the biggest political story of the year with explosive revelations about a NZ First slush fund. He talks about the clandestine way in which the documents came into his possession and asks why reporters must go to such lengths to access information which should be publicly available.

The Winebox 2.0 documents, the only proof of the mysterious dealings of the New Zealand First Foundation and the coterie of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters advisors that control it, was mere moments away from becoming papier mache.

It should not be this hard to find out who donated to a political party in New Zealand.

Forgetting the rigmarole of finally getting hard proof, the information should be publicly available. It is beyond a lack of transparency. I feel it is a lack of basic honesty. For Peters the documents potentially betray his voters, the donors who back the party, his candidates, his MPs and democracy.

There are so many people left bloodied on the path behind him that a resistance started to form and say enough is enough. There is a shortage of people in New Zealand willing to stand up when they see a wrong but that attitude is changing and the reveal of these documents, and the reaction of the public to them, should send a strong message to politicians.

I agree. It does look dishonest – again for Winston Peters and donations.

Yes other parties have had issues with how they secretly and shadily they have handled party donations, and National are currently being investigated over an alleged donation scam.

But this story is about NZ First, and threatens the future of the party and potentially the future of the coalition government, so it is  particularly big deal.

Calling the Electoral Commission for some clarity, this indeed, appeared to be a smoking gun. More sources came forward.

The first spin from Peters is that the foundation and party were unconnected and the donation issues were an administrative error. The unconnected foundation paid for the speakers at the party conference, reimbursed MP Clayton Mitchell for travel, made payments to Peter’s partner, Jan Trotman, paid for the NZ First website hosting fees and it was even advertised as a fund as a “means to secure NZ First’s future.”

Two of its trustees are deep in the NZ First Party. The first, Doug Woolerton, is NZ First’s founding party president. The second is Peters’ lawyer, long-time friend, NZ First Judicial Officer, and self-proclaimed “Dark Shadow” of the NZ First Party, Brian Henry. Ironically, it was Henry who helped Peters out during the Winebox enquiry.

There were other links to the NZ First Party. Donors have outed Tauranga-based MP Clayton Mitchell as the man arranging the donations and working to give out its bank number. Donors said they thought money that ended up in the foundation account was meant for the political party.

The second spin was that the foundation gave the party loans. And this is true. It did. Payments were remade. Some loans seem strange. On April 29, 2019 the foundation loaned the NZ First Party 44,923. On April 30 the New Zealand First party paid $44,923 back to the foundation. None of the experts we’ve asked can think of a reason for this.

It should not be this hard to get straight answers.

NZ First has control of the $3 Billion Provincial Growth Fund, which comes under Minister for Regions Shane Jones.

And Jones seems to be another political bully on top of Peters and his ‘dark enforcer’ Brian Henry. who threw around a $30 million defamation threat this week (which on it’s own is a big story).

There was another big story that was overwhelmed by Wine Box 2.0 this week – Jones threatens Auckland Port CEO

Shane Jones threatened Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson in a heated meeting in the Beehive last week as the port launched its own campaign dismissing the New Zealand First-instigated proposal to move it to Whangarei. Dileepa Fonseka has the exclusive.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones warned Auckland’s port boss Tony Gibson at a closed-door meeting last week to stay away from the ports debate.

At a meeting in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s office last week with POAL CEO, Jones said: “My advice to you as a chief executive is do not put your head in a political noose.”

Jones confirmed his comments in an interview with Newsroom. He said his words were meant as a warning to the CEO not to enter the “political fray” of the ports debate.

Others at the meeting told Newsroom Jones boasted that both he and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters were top political operators and ports CEO Tony Gibson would be making a mistake if he decided to take them on.

Jones said his warnings that the decision to move the port was “as much about politics as it is about economics”. Newsroom spoke to Jones after hearing of the heated meeting from sources within the Government.

“Don’t fudge any words, the leaks that you’ve been given are a reflection of the warning that I gave.”

Jones said now that discussions around the meeting had leaked he considered Gibson a “political combatant”.

“Now I will deal with him, in the time before the election, in a very political way. I love that, that’s the sport I’m paid to engage in.”

It isn’t the ‘sport’ that we the taxpayers pay Jones to engage in. Threats are unbecoming of a Minister, and Jones has been guilty of bullying abuses of power before this.

Shand:

New ports, dredging, slipways, a mussel-processing plant in Marlborough, a $5.7 million grant to protect Manuka honey’s trademark, money to plant trees and all manner of activity are funded by the PGF. Knowing what we do now, about NZ First Foundation donations, there are legitimate questions to be asked about the decision making process.

There are also legitimate questions to be asked about why the law can’t force parties to be more transparent about their wealthy donors.

Because that’s too important to be reliant on a handful of brave whistle blowers doing the right thing.

Far too important.

And it’s too important to tolerate political activists continually trying to disrupt the messages that challenge these abuses of law and power, and divert with tedious whataboutism.