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.

More on unethical oil and gas

Following her suggestion that the oil and gas industry was unethical (likening it to tobacco and munitions – see Oil and gas unethical?) Dunedin Councillor Jinty MacTavish has been asked on Facebook:

“Presumably you are going to take a principled stand and boycott all the products of the oil and gas industry as you believe they are unethical?”

She responded:

I personally don’t own a private motor vehicle – I ride, walk and bus as much as I possibly can – and I take other measures to reduce my carbon emissions as far as practicable.

Yes, because of the society we live in and the systems our society has built over time, all of us rely on fossil fuels to some extent or another, and I’m no different. I’m super aware of that, and it’s entirely possible I will look back in 10 years time and wish I’d taken steps to further reduce my carbon consumption.

An option that’s available to me would be to try to avoid any part of our society that uses fossil fuels…but making that call would mean I couldn’t contribute much to changing the system!

For me, it’s not about judging people for their use of fossil fuels, it’s about acknowledging that we’re all in this boat together, and that we collectively need to be moving away from damaging fuel sources.

In my view, it’s a challenge for our whole society, and we need a society-wide response – to change this to the extent that we possibly can, to avoid the misery that would be associated with climate change over 2 degrees of warming.

I’m not perfect, I don’t claim to be – but I don’t think that makes additional fossil fuel exploration a more sensible or ethical thing to be investing ratepayers’ resources in.

That acknowledges the reality of the pervasiveness of oil use in our society.

It also appears to soften her stance on “unethical” in relation to oil and gas, moving from an absolute to a more towards a relative level of ethics – but it’s not clear what that’s relative to.

Yesterday I asked Cr Mactavish:

“If Dunedin could secure enough business and economic benefits from gas drilling and recovery off our coast to enable us to invest in much better energy efficiency and alternatives to oil/gas powered transport, thereby enabling a significant reduction in fossil fuel use, what would your position be on it?”

She hasn’t responded yet.

Oil and gas unethical?

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish suggests oil and gas is unethical, and she wants council guidelines that rule out using staff time or resources on anything deemed to be unethical.

Hello Dunedin! I’m keen for some feedback here.

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?*

Over 87% of submitters to a recent consultation we held on oil and gas exploration, told us they didn’t support it off our coast. If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion, it suggests our city collectively opposes the activity. In that context, how comfortable would our citizens be with the Council actively seeking to maximise financial gain from that same activity?

Council could seek to do this in two ways:-
1. Using staff time or resources, or investing in infrastructure to help ensure Dunedin becomes the base of choice for oil companies.
2. To continue to seek distribution of royalties (the money the O&G companies pay the government) more locally.

Councillors’ views of the approaches were canvassed by the ODT yesterday, and some of the feedback they got is in today’s article – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/287660/oil-gas-base-host-race

To me, advocating for the second feels like a more ethical approach than the first. It is the Government that is imposing this on the regions – it’s not a choice that the regions have made. Therefore advocating for what is in effect compensation from the Government for their actions, feels like a reasonably ethical stance. But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base, feels to me as unethical as it does stupid**. If Council is in the business of wooing multinational coorperations to set up shop in Dunedin (which seems a questionably approach to economic development anyway) we could at least choose one that enhanced our brand and city offering, rather than detracting from it.

In my view, Council investments (whether staff time or cash), should be informed by its community’s views on what it’s right and ethical to be involved in. Thanks to submissions made to last year’s Annual Plan, we’ll be considering a ethical investment guidelines for the Waipori Fund in a few weeks time (will keep you posted on that). Perhaps there’s merit in considering extending those guidelines to cover other areas of Council investment (like staff time).

I’d welcome your thoughts…

I welcome thoughts on this too.

Is using oil and gas unethical? Or just oil and gas recovered in New Zealand?

Sourced from Facebook: Councillor Jinty MacTavish