Dom Post on Jones

May 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Today’s Dom Post editorial:

Whatever the outcome of the citizenship-fraud trial taking place in Auckland, former associate immigration minister has some explaining to do. …

According to evidence presented to the High Court in Auckland last week, Mr Jones was told in 2008 that Yan was the subject of Interpol Red Notices based on arrest warrants issued in China and that the Internal Affairs Department did not know who he was because he had two passports, two names and two birth dates. Yet Mr Jones approved his application one day after receiving his file.

Mr Jones, now an Opposition front-bencher, has refused to comment on the matter while “it’s in front of the court”, other than to say he had “most certainly not” gone to China.

It is worth noting the outcome of the court case has little bearing on whether Jones acted properly. The court case is about whether Liu lied on his immigration forms. But the focus is on Jones is about why he approved the citizenship when the officials told him this guy has multiple identities, multiple passports, multiple dates of birth and an Interpol arrest warrant.

However, his leader, David Shearer, said yesterday he would not stand the list MP down after receiving assurances from Mr Jones, speaking to other MPs with knowledge of the case and reviewing information retained by Mr Jones. The Labour leader is attaching his reputation to that of Mr Jones in the same way that his predecessor fatefully attached his reputation to that of former Labour whip Darren Hughes when he chose not to stand him down while police investigated a complaint against him.

To be fair to Shearer, the allegations were known about before the 2008 election. It was Helen Clark who should have done a stand down. I’m not sure a stand down is needed. What has been needed for the last three and a half years is a clear plausible explanation for why Jones granted citizenship, apart from he did it to keep his good mate Dover Samuels happy. And if Jones can not give a convincing reason (and by convincing I mean being able to point to some proof that Liu was not dodgy – rather than merely taking Liu’s word for it) for giving citizenship to such a dodgy character, than Shearer should rule Jones out of any future Ministerial role.

It is a risky strategy that leaves Mr Shearer open to charges of hypocrisy given that he has called for ACT MP John Banks to be stood down from his ministerial duties while allegations about his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign are investigated.

Mr Shearer says Mr Jones followed due process. That sounds impressive, but simply means Mr Jones considered the material associated with the case before exercising his authority as minister.

It does not explain why the then minister ignored the concerns of officials who met twice with him about the application.

I’m glad the Dom Post has seen through the spin about process. And yes it is hypocrisy.

The case must now be allowed to run its course. But, once it is completed, there is clearly a need for a full inquiry reviewing Mr Jones’ actions, the material put before him by officials and the involvement of other members of Parliament. Yan’s application for citizenship was supported by letters from National’s Pansy Wong and Labour’s Dover Samuels and Chris Carter.

New Zealanders rightly take pride in this country’s reputation for propriety. Anything that threatens that reputation should be treated with the utmost seriousness.

We definitely need a full inquiry into this. The problem is that if the National Government establishes an inquiry into the actions of a Labour Minister, it looks hopelessly partisan no matter how credible a person is appointed.

But if David Shearer was to come out and agree to an independent inquiry, and agree on the terms of reference with the Prime Minister – then that would be a great sign of bipartisanship – and would allow the true facts to be established.

The whole case is very murky. The person who helped Liu apply for citizenship was a fundraiser for the Labour Party. His brother worked for Shane Jones. Liu had donated to at least three MPs (two Labour, one National) and may held fundraisers at his restaurant which may have raised tens of thousands of dollars. And not only was the citizenship granted despite the official advice, a Labour MP arranged a special citizenship ceremony in the Maori Affairs Select Committee Room at Parliament just a few days later.

The perception is that Shane Jones sold citizenship. Now maybe he did not. Maybe the fact that he was a donor to Labour MPs was not a factor. Maybe the fact that his very good friend Dover Samuels lobbied him intensely did not impact his decision to grant citizenship to Dover’s friend and donor. But Jones argument that he made his decision on humanitarian grounds is pitifully weak. That might be a reason to grant permanent residency, but not citizenship. One can live in NZ all your life as a permanent resident, without being a citizen.

Also note that there has not been a shred of proof that Liu was associated with the Falun Gong. What there is proof of is an arrest warrant for fraud charges.

UPDATE: John Armstrong’s column is “A nasty smell that needs cleaning“. He concludes:

That Shearer is understood to still be keeping his options open in terms of calling in some independent body like the Auditor-General to conduct an inquiry into the approval of Yan’s citizenship suggests the Labour leader realises he is not on terribly strong ground in not standing Jones down, if only temporarily.

There should be an independent inquiry. The inquiry needs to interview all the people involved – the officials, the MPs who advocated, Shane Te Pou and his brother Daniel who worked for Jones. David Cunliffe also as Minister of Immigration who also didn’t act on official advice. The inquiry should also ask the Chinese authorities to document the nature of the fraud allegations that Liu was charged with.

Armstrong’s column is a good read, but I would note that he has missed what I think is a critical point in comparing the Banks case to the Jones case. Banks when advocating for Dotcom was a private citizen and not in power. Samuels was a Government MP and Jones was the actual decision maker. And Banks advocacy was turned down, despite the officials making no recommendation. While Samuels advocacy on behalf of his donor was successful, despite the officials strongly advising against.

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35 Responses to “Dom Post on Jones”

  1. Nookin (2,891 comments) says:

    “Banks when advocating for Dotcom was a private citizen and not in power. Samuels was a Government MP and Jones was the actual decision maker. And Banks advocacy was turned down, despite the officials making no recommendation. While Samuels advocacy on behalf of his donor was successful, despite the officials strongly advising against.”

    So tell that to Penny Bright

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  2. wreck1080 (3,527 comments) says:

    Dodgy as.

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  3. mikenmild (8,892 comments) says:

    Shane Jones was on Radion Live this morning sounding fairly bullish about the issue – wants to defend himself more vigorously after the court case has concluded.
    It may well be that neither Banks nor Jones have broken any laws, but their reputation will probably be irreperably harmed – not that they had great reputations before these issues arose.

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  4. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    Which side was Jones on in the Labour leadership contest? Does Shearer need to protect his vote with Cunliffe still gunning for the job?

    How can Shearer explain his claim (on Newstalkzb ZB yesterday evening) that Labour MPs had little to do with Bill Liu when a special citizenship ceremony was held within parliament with Labour MPs present?

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  5. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    “But if David Shearer was to come out and agree to an independent inquiry, and agree on the terms of reference with the Prime Minister – then that would be a great sign of bipartisanship”

    Hmmm bipartisanship went out the window after the election when Shearer offered to help with a multi-party discussion on poverty. Key told Shearer to piss off. So I suspect that Shearer won’t be as accomoodating as he might have been.

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  6. Cunningham (746 comments) says:

    I hope this story snowballs. It sounds extremely dodgy to me. Shearer will regret not standing him down I suspect.

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  7. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    > Banks when advocating for Dotcom was a private citizen and not in power.

    Oh please, you’re sounding desperate. Banks’ memory is failing, not as a private citizen but as a Minister! Why would that be? Because he knows he fucked up and his credibility is shot.

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  8. hmmokrightitis (1,458 comments) says:

    All it needs is a large exercise ball.

    O M G a labour leader is a hypocrite. Surprised font.

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  9. DJP6-25 (1,236 comments) says:

    Cunningham 3:32 pm. I doubt it will snowball. The MSM will carry what ever water is required. Labour MPs will try to use the usual lies and obfuscation to deflect attention from it. After all. Stuff like that is only wrong if it is done by non socialists.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  10. Jimbob (639 comments) says:

    Armstrong left out the bit on Banks being a private citizen at the time and Jones being a minister and decision maker on purpose. He knows all the facts backwards, as a Journalist of his standing should do.

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  11. Muzza M (286 comments) says:

    I think anyone with half an ounce of intelligence can see that this man got his citizenship because of his association with Labour. And I wouldn’t mind betting Helen Clark is up to her balls in it too.

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  12. Monty (949 comments) says:

    I have said this earlier – a couple of questions need to be answered
    Directly or indirectly how much money did Liu donate to the Labour Party? Not interested in returns – but more th emoney donated at charity dinners and the like.

    This whole matter reaks of passports for cash and corruption. Everyone knows it – I wonder what official documents are available under the OIA?

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  13. rg (190 comments) says:

    Shearer has said he would stand Jones down if he was under police investigation. Charles Chauvel is under police investigation for offences under electoral law so does that mean that Chauvel will be stood down?

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  14. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    @ bhudson – Jones is a member of Team ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe)

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  15. krazykiwi (9,188 comments) says:

    … special citizenship ceremony was held within parliament with Labour MPs present

    Hmmm, where are all those Labour MP’s? Not exactly jumping forward to admit being a witnesses to said special citizenship ceremony.

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  16. tvb (3,945 comments) says:

    This is a problem the Labour Party needs to clear up. So far they are avoiding the issue. If they really wanted to clear it up they should co-operate in an independent inquiry. However the terms of that inquiry will be set by the Government and not the Labour Party so they have a problem. I think they will hope the whole issue will just go away relying on their friends in the media to do that. In the meantime the Government could refer the case to the Ombudsman’s Office to see if there was any maladministration.

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  17. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    @ross69, 2x posts in 4 minutes running deflection.

    Who were you saying was being desperate again?

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  18. Leaping Jimmy (15,593 comments) says:

    Armstrong’s column is a good read, but I would note that he has missed what I think is a critical point in comparing the Banks case to the Jones case.

    The issue is that when a journo writes a column critical of a lefty politician they often insert something about a conservative politician, for “balance.”

    It’s an interesting phenomena, since it doesn’t seem to happen quite so often when a journo writes a column critical of a conservative politician.

    Isn’t that peculiar?

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  19. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    > The perception is that Shane Jones sold citizenship.

    Well, you would say that. All you need is some proof.

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  20. KH (686 comments) says:

    it’s absolutely bizarre that this character got citizenship. Whatever the reason.

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  21. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    Jones was on TV3 news saying he granted citizenship because a Government official told him if Liu went back to China he would be executed and his organs would be “harvested”. Sounds bizarre, but if true puts a a different complexion on it. But that still doesn’t answer why he was given citizenship rather than being able to stay on a residency permit. And how accurate the information would be an isue too.

    Many people remain here on residency permits, I know someone who would love to be a Kiwi citizen but is reluctant to have to swear allegiance to a queen from the other side of the world.

    On the same news item Cunliffe clearly wanted Jones to take all responsibility. Not a great show of support for his colleague.

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  22. thedavincimode (6,130 comments) says:

    So, on the one hand, Fast Hand Jones can’t remember anything about the Liu business, but on the other he “kept notes” when it blew up in 2008 because the offcials were dodgy and likely to fit him up.

    I’ll just borrow a bit of Hmmokeydokey’s surprised font right here.

    BTW, let’s not compare the relative behaviour of Banks and Jones. The only relevance is the hypocrisy of Liebore, but that’s a given. It’s pretty clear that at best, Banks has behaved poorly. Whether he has acted in accordance with the letter of the law isn’t relevant in a context where transparency and public trust are at stake in the same way that it wasn’t relevant for English. We know why Banks allegedly solicited money from Dotmoneybags.

    Jones was a Minister who acted against what, on the face of it, was compelling advice to not grant citizenship. Why? (in my snigger font). And how does Jones reconcile not knowing anything about Liu with having kept detailed notes? (more snigger font).

    Or should that be my LOL font?

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  23. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,681 comments) says:

    I thnk i’ve worked out why the leader of the Labour Party is backing Shane Jones.

    Every Shearer needs a hand piece.

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  24. Johnboy (13,424 comments) says:

    True Adolf. Even a very even-handed fellow such as myself is beginning to suspect that Jones is a very dodgy sort of a wanker! :)

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  25. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Ross: Ever heard of circumstantial evidence my son? Many a man was hanged as a result of it…

    If Jones gave Liu citizenship because he was going to have his organs harvested back in China…who gave him that information? “Bill” himself? The officials Jones is now slagging off clearly didnt want a bar of him…

    Now why would Shane go against this officials’ strong recommendation when there were not one, not two, but FOUR red flags up about this guy?

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  26. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    Now why would Shane go against this officials’ strong recommendation when there were not one, not two, but FOUR red flags up about this guy?

    That’s still unanswered, as is why one official waved a compassionate flag that the others didn’t, and why Jones bought that view.

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  27. Ian Wishart (82 comments) says:

    Read the backstory VERY carefully, and be sure to read the links within the articles as well.

    http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/?p=2006

    There’s much more gold in these hills than has been highlighted this week. Think “Tamaki Wu” a fictitious identity donating thousands and linked to Shane Jones office, and a quarter BILLION dollar fraud by Yong Ming Yan, not $2.7 million as mentioned in court (NZ Immigration miscalculated the exchange rate in their original notes, and error was repeated throughout)

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  28. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    PG: is it established that one official waved the compassionate flag? Has said official said so?

    Ian W: Welcome Sir! Are the Police aware of the full facts re the fraud? I think DPF has mentioned “Tamaki Wu” earlier in the week…he was never home, apparently…

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  29. Dean Papa (623 comments) says:

    “New Zealanders rightly take pride in this country’s reputation for propriety. Anything that threatens that reputation should be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

    yeah right. Like the rest of the world cares. As with our alleged clean and green image, it is self manufactured. If we advertise it as being true, no one is going to bother to argue otherwise. We’re too insignificant a country for it to matter.

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  30. tvb (3,945 comments) says:

    An Ombudsman’s inquiry would t least establish whether officials put all relevant facts before Jones and if not why not. If Jones went ahead and made a totally unsuitable person a NZ citizen in the face of facts placed before him by his Department then that would be prime face evidence Jones acted improperly.

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  31. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    is it established that one official waved the compassionate flag? Has said official said so?

    As far as I know, just one said MP has claimed this, but said he had documents to back it up, but when asked directly to confirm this it was slightly odd, he went off on something else then came back with a sort of emphatic yes.

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  32. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    @ Ian Wishart – congratulations on scooping the MSM on this story in 2008. We may never have heard of it otherwise.

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  33. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    > Read the backstory VERY carefully

    What backstory? A Labour Minister had the temerity to make a decision that differed from official advice. You might be aware that officials are unelected…you might think it’s appropriate for their advice to be rubber stamped but I don’t. Under National, it’s the officials who seem to be making policy decisions, with Ministers unable to think for themselves.

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  34. Ian Wishart (82 comments) says:

    Ross…I had people within the Asian community, and of course government sources, separately telling me similar things. The Asian sources went further, named some Asian org crime figures that Liu was associated with and the companies they were using, and telling me that Liu had compromised people in positions of power.

    I passed that information onto the Serious Fraud Office and my understanding is it was used in connection with a big Asian money laundering bust a few months later.

    The man’s track record in China was a quarter billion dollar fraud based on selling fake pharmaceuticals…and he had his first millions at the age of 21, more than two decades ago, when such a feat without some powerful backer would have been unthinkable.

    His fake identity had a birthdate that differed by several years, debunking the whole foster child theory.

    Jones didn’t even blink before approving Liu…nor did Cunliffe, yet both were on notice that he was under “multi agency investigation” at the time that had not completed. Ministers traditionally kick for touch on such issues, and certainly don’t pre-empt “multi agency investigations” that are ongoing (including a police Asian Organised Crime Unit investigation).

    These two ministers went against advice, in a situation almost without precedent, and fast tracked everything this Labour Party donor asked for.

    Apart from that, there’s nothing to see here.

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  35. Mark (1,302 comments) says:

    I agree that this warrants and inquiry and that Jones who has shown questionable judgement in the past needs to be held to account of it is established that granting citizenship to Liu was about some favour bein given to him, his party or his mates.

    There are a few bloggers here trying to relate be severity of this and to down play Bank’s alleged hiding of Dotcoms donations and it is hard to see the relevence. Again if Bank’s has committed a deliberate deception then Key has to consider if he is appropriate for A cabinet position. They are completely separate issues but both sound a bit sleazy and both need to to be fully investigated. We do not want to see any form of corrupt practices in our parliamentary system. It needs to be ferreted out and stamped on no matter who or what party.

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