Jones cites Greens influence as factor in departure

April 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

Departing Labour MP Shane Jones’ antipathy for the Green Party went so deep he once told Labour’s leadership he would not be a minister if he was “second fiddle” to Green co-leader Russel Norman as deputy prime minister or in a senior economic role. …

Asked whether David Cunliffe had tried to keep him by promising a ministerial post if Labour regained the Government benches, he said he had told Labour’s leadership some time ago he would struggle to be a minister if Mr Norman or other Green MPs held senior posts.

“The Labour Party I came into is a party of New Zealanders. Some are on the left, some are on the right. The sweet spot is in the centre. I’m not interested in ever campaigning for the Green vote or going out there promoting Labour as only being able to govern if it has some sort of Green organ transplant.”

The reality is that Labour’s policies are all veering quite hard to the left. I’m going to do a more detailed blog post on this, but when you compare their policies today compared with say the Clark-Cullen Government – they have moved to the left in almost every case – and most of their new policies are Green party policies.

Stuff reports the response from the Greens:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei hit back this morning, calling Jones sexist and questioning the amount of voter support he brought to Labour.

“It’s probably a good thing that he’s going, he’s very much a 19th century man in a 21st century world, and I’m not sure he’s going to cope with the changes that need to come,” Turei said on Firstline.

“I think there’s been real issues around with Shane and his sexism. I think the comments he’s made and the very derogatory statements he’s made about women in the past, in particular women in authority, has been a real problem.”

She denied Jones had appeal to working class men.

“He’s claiming he’s got lots of support, but not enough that’s kept him in Parliament. I don’t know that he has a great deal of support in his caucus either because that hasn’t kept him inside Parliament.

“At the end of the day, he’s leaving. The Greens are staying. He won’t be part of government, he won’t be a minister and the Greens are intending to be so after the election on September 20,” Turei said.

The problem for the Greens is they have little chance of being in Government, unless Labour also does a deal with NZ First.  And in a piece I do agree with, Tim Watkin states the reality:

Labour and the Greens simply aren’t a viable two-party government as the polls stand, which makes New Zealand First simply vital to any potential change of government. While New Zealand First has left its options open re coalitions and there’s plenty of smart money on Winston Peters’ preference for backing National-led – or at least incumbent – government, any path to a change of government currently looks to lead through New Zealand First.

Labour’s going to have to do some serious growing to find another path to government. So as it stands, if New Zealand First tells Labour it wants a formal coalition (something history tells us Peters prefers), but it will only consider a coalition if the Greens are excluded, well, Labour will have to exclude them.

Yep. Because what else can the Greens do?

When this scenario was put to Greens co-leader Metiria Turei on The Nation she said “if they [Labour] need us for confidence and supply, they need us to be government” and if the Greens are needed, “we, the Greens, are in a very strong bargaining position”.

Except they’re not. At all. If New Zealand First said they would only go with Labour if the Greens were sidelined and Labour bowed to that demand, the Greens would have two choices: Give confidence and supply to that government, or opt out and let a National-led government stay in power. Surely they couldn’t let the latter happen, so they would have to allow themselves to be sidelined. Again.

The Greens can not abstain on supply and confidence, because then Labour and NZ First would not be able to govern.  There would either be a new election or a National-led Government.

And considering how close Jones and Peters are, can anyone imagine Peters will let the Greens become Ministers, when their influence is what drove Shane Jones out of politics?

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Reaction to Jones quitting

April 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Shane Jones’ shock decision to quit as a Labour MP will lead voters to draw one conclusion and one conclusion only: that he thinks Labour cannot win the September general election.

His departure is close to an unmitigated disaster for Labour. For starters, unlike the bulk of his colleagues, Jones could reach into segments of the vote – especially blue-collar males – who have switched off Labour. He was in the process of switching those traditional relationships back on.

So why did he go?

He was a major weapon in helping Labour to win back more of the Maori seats.

Perhaps of most significance, Labour has lost the one man who would have acted as the essential go-between in securing Winston Peters’ signature on a post-election coalition or co-operation agreement between Labour and New Zealand First which enabled Labour to govern.

Jones, however, may have seen himself ending up as a paralysed economic development minister in a Labour-Greens coalition which saw him having to constantly battle on behalf of any project with environmental repercussions.

Jones at best would have been the symbolic Minister with Russel  Norman having the veto.

He might not have intended it, but his leaving is also a massive blow to Labour’s morale at one of the worst possible times – just five months before election day when the party is endeavouring to motivate its membership to go door-knocking to get out the Labour vote.

The question is, why not stay until  the election?

Vernon Small writes:

 Disarray. There is no other word to describe the mess the Labour Party plunged into last night.

Not only did it have to come to terms with the loss of one of its strongest performers in Shane Jones, the party seemed to freeze like a possum in the headlights.

Press secretaries were either unable to help, unhelpful or offline, and party president Moira Coatsworth and secretary Tim Barnett initially went to ground.

Former leader David Shearer was gracious enough to confirm he knew of the resignation, but other MPs said it was a “bolt from the blue” and “gutting” before a gagging order went around the caucus.

Poor old Matt is earning his money!

If anything was designed to scream “crisis” it was this. Jones will be a serious loss to the party.

He has strong blue collar crossover appeal to Pakeha and Maori, and in the regions.

Who will now be leader of Labour’s Maori caucus? Nanaia Mahuta?

There is an upside in Labour getting Kelvin Davis back, who many people (including myself) rate. However he does not have the profile, mana or connections that Jones did.

In a Herald story:

Dover Samuels, a former MP and close friend to Mr Jones, said the Labour Party should take some of the blame for failing to keep him.

“He always pointed out to the Labour Party that if you didn’t take middle New Zealand with you you will be in the Siberian ring of the Opposition for the rest of your life. And I think, sadly, they didn’t hear that. They’ve got their own agendas.” 

Labour’s lurch to the left has claimed another victim.

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Shane Jones leaves Labour to take up job for National Government

April 22nd, 2014 at 6:11 pm by David Farrar

3 News has reported that Shane Jones will leave Parliament as early as next month. He has accepted an appointment by National to be the Pacific Economic Ambassador.

This is a huge blow to Labour. Jones had a rare ability to connect with working class New Zealanders, and his decision to abandon Labour before the election can only be taken as a vote of no confidence in Labour.

It will be fascinating to learn of how the job offer and acceptance came about. For my 2c, its good to see Jones take up a role where he can do some good for New Zealand and the Pacific.

But Labour will be reeling from losing not just their 5th highest ranked MP, but someone who less than a year ago wanted to lead the Labour Party – and is now bailing out on it.

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Imperator Fish on Shane Jones

March 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Some very biting satire from Imperator Fish:

I’ve been drawing a bit of flak for my criticism in recent days of the Green Party. I’ve now had time to reflect on my comments, and I’ve also spoken to my leader. David has reminded me that we can’t afford to take our eyes off the prize. When we fight with our political allies the only winners are National. …

I was probably out of line when I called Green Party MP Gareth Hughes a “mollyhawk”. And not just because the correct name for the bird is “mollymawk”.  I don’t have time to concern myself with matters of avian etymology, because, unlike some political parties I could name, I’m more interested in jobs and growth than in saving some stupid bird. But I accept that the analogy was an inaccurate one. The Greens have always struck me more as ostriches with their heads in the sand.

Still, I was wrong to attack a Green MP so publicly, because we all want the same thing: to get rid of John Key. That’s why I have promised David Cunliffe that there will be no more attacks on the Greens. I won’t have a bad word said about that unwashed anti-growth lentil-eating pack of luddites.

It’s too soon to tell whether a Labour-led government would include the Greens, though that’s certainly a possibility. We will have to wait and see until after the election. We may have options of forming a government with my good friend Winston, or we may decide to opt to go with a dangerous and radical party full of ideologues with lunatic ideas.  I personally don’t have a preference.

Heh.

I have nothing against either of the Green Party co-leaders, and I have worked with them in the past without difficulty. Russel Norman is almost tolerable for an Australian, and I am starting to warm to his annoying and irritating accent. Metiria seems pleasant enough as a person, even if the way she goes on about the environment fills me with rage. I would have no problem being in Cabinet with either of those idiots.

So let’s put to rest any suggestion that I have an axe to grind against the Green Party. I will work with anyone who shares my goal of kicking John Key’s government out, even if those people turn out to be economic vandals intent on destroying jobs and growth for the sake of a few dolphins. That’s why I want to assure the Green Party leadership that I’m committed to making our relationship work.

There’s part of me that almost wishes for a Labour/Greens/Winston/Hone Government, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing the fighting!

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Jones smears Collins

March 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Collins today hit out at allegations by Labour MP Shane Jones that she had been living at the mansion formerly owned by failed finance director Mark Hotchin – now owned by Shi.

She said rumours mentioned today by Jones on RadioLive, that she was living at Shi’s mansion were “defamatory”.

Collins had earlier told Fairfax she and her husband had never stayed at the former Hotchin mansion. Suggestions they had stayed there while their own house was being renovated were wrong.

Jones’ comments were “hurtful”, she said today, but she would not elaborate on what the comments might have meant.

“I’m really disgusted that Shane would do that,” Collins said.

“It’s actually really hurtful. I’ve been to the home that Mr Shi has bought on many occasions because he is a close personal friend and he’s away a lot.

“But I’ve never lived there, I don’t stay there – I’ve been there, and that’s because it’s a very interesting place to go look at.

“I was really disgusted that Shane would do that. I never put the boot into Shane and yet he’s gone and done that.”

Talking to Marcus Lush this morning, Jones alluded to allegations Collins had stayed at the former Hotchin mansion for some time. …

“Grant Robertson is going to continue to dig at this. There’s all sorts of all rumours swirling, does she actually live at Paritai Drive [where the Hotchin mansion is]?

“There’s all sorts of rumours swirling around Wellington that she’s living there.”

It is quite legitimate for the Opposition to ask questions around the trip to China. No issue at all with that. The job of the opposition is to hold the Government to account.

But for a senior Labour MP to start repeating (false) rumours on radio is descending into a personal smear attack. Labour need to be very careful that they don’t over-reach on this one.

UPDATE: Jones has apologised. Good on him for that.

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Jones lashes Norman

March 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The bad blood between Shane Jones and the Greens continues. 3 News reports:

Labour’s attempt to muzzle its outspoken MP, Shane Jones, has lasted less than a day.

Mr Jones was told off by his leader for comparing Green MP Gareth Hughes to a screeching bird.

Today he took a shot at Green co-leader Russel Norman, saying he will not be lectured on the environment by an Australian.

Seemingly to prove he cannot be silenced, he let rip at Dr Norman, extending the anti-Australian attack he has used against Countdown to the Australian-born MP.

“I’m not going to have an Australian running the New Zealand Green Party, lecturing me about environment and economics in the north,” says Mr Jones.

And Norman hits back:

Dr Norman launched a counter-attack, accusing Mr Jones of copying Prime Minster John Key.

“The Prime Minister does it quite a lot; he’s also very critical of migrants,” says Dr Norman. “It turns out a part of the Labour Party doesn’t like migrants either. Every time Mr Jones opens his mouth the Green Party vote goes up, so I encourage Mr Jones to speak out.”

I’m not sure comparing Shane Jones to John Key is a great way to attack him. Incidentally never known the PM to be critical of migrants. I think Russel is projecting that the PM enjoys being told he must protect New Zealanders from Australian foreign investment, by someone with a thick Australian accent.

Mr Jones tried to be a team player, telling 3 News he had “to go and deal with the boredom of tax legislation”, but could not resist driving another wedge between Labour and the Greens.

“I like what David Cunliffe said on our behalf yesterday – Winston first.”

Long may the growing war between Labour and Green MPs continue.

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Jones v Hughes

March 11th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour economic development spokesman Shane Jones has taken a swipe at the Greens, calling ocean spokesman Gareth Hughes a “mollyhawk” for comments Jones says “undermine” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A hearing began today to consider an application by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine iron ore from the seabed off the west coast of the North Island. …

The Greens also called for a moratorium on all seabed mining until it was proved “unequivocally safe”.

A standard impossible to meet. They also I presume call for a ban on cars until they also are proved “unequivocally safe”.

Jones used an interview on Radio Waatea today to take a swing at Labour’s potential coalition partner, saying its activist stance was inappropriate for a government-in-waiting.

“Minerals and exploration is an essential part of the economy and the process shouldn’t be undermined by political commentary,” he said.

“There’s a standard to be observed between parliamentary figures and state bodies.

“I’ve been warned not to crisscross the Commerce Commission investigation, if it’s good enough for me as the Labour economic development spokesman, then it’s good enough for Gareth Hughes.”

The EPA was also independent from the Government, and Jones said governments-in-waiting needed to observe constitutional proprieties.

Hughes’ contributions were unhelpful, and “carrying on like a mollyhawk” would not achieve anything, he said.

A mollyhawk is a type of gull. I’m not sure quite what Jones is trying to call Hughes by calling him one.

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Auckland sites needing a cultural assessment grow to 5,500

March 10th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Bernard Orsman writes:

The Auckland Council has confirmed that an extra 2000 or so properties are covered by a controversial rule requiring owners to seek iwi approval to work on their land.

A rule in the council’s draft Unitary Plan requires applicants carrying out work on 3661 sites of significance and value to mana whenua to obtain a “cultural impact assessment” from one or more of 19 iwi groups.

Now the council has told the Herald the rule applies to “significant ecological areas (SEA)”, of which more than 2000 were in the plan.

Maybe it would be easier for the Council to just provide a list of sites which don’t need a cultural assessment in order to remove vegetation etc. Eventually that will be the shorter list.

Politicians are divided on the iwi consent rule, which Auckland University associate law professor Ken Palmer said must be seen as invalid.

In a letter to the Herald on Friday, Professor Palmer, an expert on the Resource Management Act, said Labour amended the act in 2005 to clarify doubts over consultation, especially with iwi.

“The section unequivocally states ‘neither [an applicant nor a council] has a duty under this act to consult any person about the application’.”

Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley disputed Dr Palmer’s interpretation, saying a cultural impact assessment was not equivalent to consultation, but similar to a requirement to supply specialist reports, such as from an engineer.

Semantics. It is another step towards town planners undermining the rights of owners.

Professor Palmer did not agree with Dr Blakeley’s view, saying a specialist report might be justified on matters of land risk, noise and air pollution, etc, but any obligation to consult mana whenua on cultural concerns went beyond this “and impinges on normal rights of freehold ownership”.

Indeed.

Labour’s Maori affairs spokesman, Shane Jones, said the council should assure itself it was taking account of Maori criteria in the act because the average Kiwi would recoil when asked to engage in a long and expensive cultural impact assessment.

Mr Jones said no one doubted the need to embrace obligations to respect sacred sites, but the issue had morphed into something else.

I’m still waiting for someone in the media to pin Nanaia Mahuta down and ask her if she agrees with Shane Jones in his opposition to the cultural assessments. Or Phil Twyford. Or David Cunliffe.

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Jones against international students

March 8th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland University is in danger of slipping from a “storehouse of knowledge to a foreign warehouse” because it is increasingly catering for international students from Asia at the potential expense of New Zealanders, says Labour MP Shane Jones.

Mr Jones said the focus on increasing fee-paying students from China, India and other Asian counties was turning universities “into institutions designed to educate international populations rather than ourselves”.

Mr Jones, a graduate of Harvard in the US, initially made the comments at a political debate at Auckland University on Thursday night. One of those at the debate contacted the Weekend Herald to say there were calls of “racist” after his comments.

Mr Jones said he had not heard the “racist” comment but somebody told him that it was called out.

“If someone did say that, that would bother me not one iota. I believe a university should be a storehouse of knowledge, not a foreign warehouse. Universities have to serve Kiwis first.”

He said he was not being racist and international students were important, but a debate was needed about the purpose of a university in New Zealand. There was a risk that fewer places would be available for New Zealanders because of the need to cater for international students.

“They (universities) tell us they don’t have enough dough so, disproportionately, they are racing into the crescent from India through to China and bringing in more and more international students. I don’t want to have a situation where there is no room for Kiwis at the intellectual inn.”

 The comments by Jones seem to based on ignorance of university funding, or he is auditioning to replace Winston as NZ First Leader.

There is a limit on domestic students because each domestic student is subsidised by the taxpayer.

International students pay full fees. In fact they pay slightly more than full fees. Universities make a profit on each international student. What this means is that the more international students you have, the more domestic students you can afford. It is not a choice of one vs the other. So the comments by Jones are woefully ignorant.

The Auckland University website shows international students make up about 13 per cent of its student population.

Hardly a huge proportion.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said of Mr Jones’ remark: “It’s a very strange comment to make if you’re an economic development spokesperson and you’re supposed to be about creating jobs.”

Mr Joyce said the international education sector was worth $2.5 billion to the economy and contributed 28,000 jobs.

Jones is normally pro-jobs. Disappointing.

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Only one Labour MP facing a challenge

March 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve not seen the full list, but based on tweets by NZ Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett, there is only one Labour MP facing a challenge for his or her party’s nomination.

So just one challenge to a caucus brimming with deadwood. So it must be to an MP who is really low profile, has no public appeal, never lands any hits in public. Right?

Well in a sensible party yes. But this is Labour. It seems that the only MP facing a challenge for an electorate nomination is Shane Jones!

The one MP actually achieving positive headlines for Labour, and the only MP being challenged. Its hilarious.

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Jones v taniwha

March 3rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Another good quote from Shane Jones:

A couple have been told to apply to 14 different iwi to keep the water running to their home.

Brent and Jennifer Tassell will need approval to renew resource consent on a bore hole that has been operating for 10 years, supplying water to eight Puhoi homes.

The bore draws water from 305m underground and is the only source of water for the properties in Slowater Lane, on the northern outskirts of greater Auckland.

“It’s a hole in the ground that’s been there for 10 years,” said Jennifer. “It’s completely over the top for our situation.”

Under the draft Auckland Unitary Plan, all applicants for resource consent for new or existing developments must apply to iwi for them to assess whether it would have an adverse effect on mana whenua.

Taking or using groundwater is on the list of activities that could have a cultural impact, so iwi may insist on a cultural impact assessment – at the applicant’s cost.

Applicants may also have to foot the bill for the “costs of engagement” in the process.

The Tassells will meet Labour MP Shane Jones, who has been vocal in his disagreement with iwi approval rules.

He warned the new Auckland Council lacked safeguards.

“Maori heritage, while it’s important, it must never be used as a basis for divisiveness – and I fear that’s a consequence in this case,” he said.

Iwi should not be allowed to intervene to “test whether there’s a taniwha down a 10-year-old bore”.

What a great quote. Any other MP saying it would probably get bashed, but Jones can get away with it.

Jones has transformed himself from one of the laziest Labour MPs to one of the most effective. It is great to see.

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Is the Maori Party calling Shane Jones racist?

March 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Maori Party have said:

The Maori Party say a cultural impact assessment clause in Auckland’s Draft Unitary Plan is a good idea, and that people focusing on race and cost are missing the big picture.

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party Co-leader says “the provision in the plan to seek a cultural impact assessment from mana whenua on certain sites tagged for development is a good thing. It’s good because Maori have knowledge, history and a unique cultural perspective that can and will add value to our resource management decisions.”

“We are, however, shocked and disappointed with some of the reactions to the proposal. It tells us that our Maori culture, our knowledge, and our history are still treated as second class here in Aotearoa.”

Shane Jones is opposed. Does this mean they are saying Shane Jones is treating Maori as second class citizens? Surely not.

I’m with Shane on this one. But am still waiting to hear if even a single other Labour MP agrees with Shane.

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Jones leading again

February 28th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour Maori Affairs spokesman Shane Jones has slammed a new rule requiring Auckland property owners to seek iwi approval to work on sites of cultural and heritage value to Maori, calling it dangerous and an extra compliance cost.

Mr Jones is opposed to the rule in Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan that requiring applicants carrying out work on 3600 sites of “value to mana whenua” to obtain a “cultural impact assessment” form one or more of 19 iwi groups.

“As someone who was involved in the core group which wrote the Resource Management Act in 1988-1989 never in our wildest dreams did we imagine it would lead to 19 new consent authorities over the Tamaki Makaurau area.

“The proponents need to balance heritage against the cost pressure of developing housing and land so that the final product is affordable,” Mr Jones said.

Well done Shane on calling it straight. Out of interest has anyone asked Labour’s other Maori MPs if they agree with Shane? Most importantly does their Leader agree with Shane?

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A victory for Jones

February 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shane Jones is claiming victory in his campaign against supermarket group Countdown, with the Commerce Commission confirming it is investigating allegations of anti-competitive behaviour.

After days of Jones making allegations about the Australian-owned company in Parliament, Commerce Minister Craig Foss suggested an investigation into the entire ‘‘supermarket sector of New Zealand’’, although the regulator later confirmed it was only looking at Countdown.

‘‘The investigation will involve seeking a wide range of information from a variety of sources, including organisations from all areas of the supermarket sector,’’ the commission said in a statement.

Jones has been calling for an investigation into supermarkets since his tilt at the Labour leadership last year, but stepped up his campaign last week when he claimed in Parliament Countdown was using ‘‘Mafioso’’ tactics, accusing it of using blackmail and extortion against Kiwi suppliers.

Jones has done well to get this issue onto the political radar, and to now get the Commerce Commission investigating. I think he is in danger of over-reaching at times with some of his language and now that the Commerce Commission is investigating – the complaints should go to them.

But while Jones may have gone too far with some of his language, my understanding is that his central assertion around Countdown demanding retrospective payments from some suppliers is well supported.

We all wait with interest the work of the Commerce Commission.

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Jones back Taurima

February 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour MP Shane Jones has gone into bat for Shane Taurima, saying his chances with Labour should not be written off because of one mistake.

Mr Taurima resigned from his job at TVNZ on Monday after leaked emails to 3 News showed a Labour Party meeting was held in the TVNZ offices last August and Mr Taurima had spoken about winning the Maori vote at another Labour meeting in Auckland in January.

It emerged Mr Taurima was also considering standing for Labour in Tamaki Makaurau despite earlier assurances he had abandoned his political ambitions after an unsuccessful bid for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti selection. Labour leader David Cunliffe described Mr Taurima’s actions as a “lapse in judgment” and refused to be drawn on whether he had any chance of being a candidate, saying that was up to the selectors.

It was not a lapse, but multiple lapses. Being an activist in a political party while in a senior editorial role at TVNZ was the first lapse.

The second lapse was hosting a party meeting at TVNZ.

The third lapse was running a session for Labour on how to increase their vote, while in his TVNZ role.

The fourth lapse was having his staff use work e-mail addresses to organise Labour Party events.

The fifth lapse was having told TVNZ he had no further political ambitions so they would hire him again, and then planning to stand for Labour again.

Some in Labour said the party could consider extending the deadline for nominations beyond next Friday to give Mr Taurima more time to decide whether to put his name forward. A review by TVNZ is expected to take two to three weeks, and extending it could also ensure the outcomes of that were known before the selection.

It’s an excellent idea that Labour should bend the rules for him. what better way could they signal that they approve of his actions.

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Armstrong on Jones

February 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

The applause from his colleagues ought to be long and loud when Shane Jones arrives for Labour’s weekly caucus meeting on Tuesday. This week was Labour’s by a country mile thanks to Jones’ carefully conceived, astutely timed and precisely targeted blitzkrieg-style offensive on Countdown, the Australian-owned supermarket chain.

In the space of just a few minutes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Jones made an extremely serious allegation regarding Countdown’s business practices. In doing so, he also entrenched Labour as the White Knight on the frontline of the Supermarket Wars.

It’s all about repositioning Labour more firmly in voters’ minds as the consumer’s friend who will confront big business greed rather than being a corporate lap-dog like National.

It’s about ensuring the economic debate at this year’s election concentrates on prices, wages, income inequality and child poverty – not economic growth forecasts, Budget surpluses and debt repayment where National has a huge advantage.

Yep a very good week for Shane Jones. It may backfire if he has over-egged the problem, but from what I have heard it does seem that there is some fire behind the smoke.

In fact, it could have been the perfect week for Labour had David Cunliffe not wasted an opportunity to nail the Greens to the wall, thereby making it very clear to the public who is going to be the boss in any Labour-Greens coalition Government.

Norman’s musings aloud on the Greens’ stance on Dotcom’s fight against extradition was a major gaffe. The Greens seem to believe that the wide discretion the law gives to the Minister of Justice amounts to carte blanche for the minister to pick and and choose who goes and who stays.

That discretion in the law is obviously there to deal with any anomalies or unforeseen circumstances.

Norman’s mistake was to talk about blocking Dotcom’s extradition if given the chance, while in almost the same breath referring to Dotcom not going ahead with the launch of his Internet Party which would have dragged votes off the Greens and other left-leaning parties.

Norman might argue he was talking about two very different things. But it was inevitable Key would link them and declare the Greens, who have attacked National’s electoral accommodations with minor parties, were about to strike a far more dodgy one of their own.

It is unwise to declare publicly you would try and veto extradition of someone, at the same time as you’re trying to negotiate an agreement for him to support your party, instead of setting up his own one.

So a good week for Jones, and not a good one for Cunliffe.

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The Countdown allegations

February 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Countdown faces a mounting consumer backlash after Labour MP Shane Jones accused the supermarket company of using ‘‘Mafioso’’ tactics demanding cash payments from Kiwi suppliers.

For the second time in as many days the Australian-owned company issued a statement defending its actions, yesterday ‘‘categorically’’ rejecting Jones’ claims.

Using parliamentary privilege, Jones said Countdown management was demanding cash payments from Kiwi businesses on the grounds that its Australian shareholders were not happy with prior profitability.

‘‘They are demanding of Kiwi businesses payments, backdated cheques, and recompense, sir, for the losses the supermarkets assert they suffered last year,’’ Jones told Speaker David Carter in Parliament.

‘‘If they don’t pay these cheques, they are being told, ‘no shelf space into the future’. In any other country, sir, that’s blackmail. That is extortion.’’

Jones said suppliers had sworn him to secrecy and were living in fear, having been told by Countdown ‘‘if you breathe one word of this, we will blacklist you’’.

Describing the tactics as ‘‘Mafioso’’, Jones said they were the type of behaviour that fictional gangster Tony Soprano would be ‘‘very proud of’’’.

Following the claims Jones delivered a letter to the Commerce Commission asking for an investigation into New Zealand’s supermarkets, something Labour has promised if it wins the election.

When this was first reported I was sceptical of the claims. However:

Minutes after Jones made the statement, Katherine Rich, chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, issued a release saying that the organisation was aware of ‘‘a number of incidents’’ where members had been asked for retrospective payments.

‘‘We have raised our general concerns about this practice with the supermarket chain involved. This is a serious issue that is new to the New Zealand grocery sector and we view it as an unwelcome development.’’

This suggests to me there is a very real issue here, and Shane Jones *may* have done a public service by highlighting it.

While I guess you can argue any company can ask any other company for more money, having a customer demand suppliers hand over money based on some sort of retrospective discount is very dubious. Now Countdown have denied the allegations and the manner in which they have asked may not be as Jones says, But the statement by Rich lends credence to the allegations that what is happening is undesirable – it may or may not be legal – but it stinks.

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Jones vs ALCP

January 26th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Speaking at the celebration of prophet Wiremu Potiki Ratana’s birthday, an event that marks that start of the political year, Fred Macdonald of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) argued that legalising cannabis would earn more revenue for the Crown and see fewer people imprisoned. Macdonald said the drug was used as a medicine in the time of Jesus Christ.

“Just get on with it, stop making our cannabis convicts political prisoners because that’s what’s going on. The war on drugs, it’s just a whole lot of bullies . . .,” Macdonald said.

Jones, who was in the audience for the speech, then launched a rebuttal when it was his turn to speak, saying drugs and alcohol were a major problem in Maori communities and a religious celebration on a marae was not a place to associate Jesus with cannabis, praise its potential or argue for decriminalisation.

“I wanted to send a message to all the visitors and to Ratana: do not allow your powhiri to be diminished by some half-stoned creature from Macdonald’s farm,” he said.

It was particularly “galling” that a Pakeha man could make such a speech on a marae when Maori women were not accorded that privilege, he said, adding “the vast majority of the Maori there were offended”.

Jones said he had been taken aside by Ratana followers and thanked for his actions.

But Church spokesman Andre Mason said he was disappointed in the actions of both men and defended Macdonald’s right to speak his mind, even if his views were not shared by everyone there.

“That was very inappropriate of Shane doing that. This is not a normal marae like every other marae , . . .This is a place of freedom of speech and he was right to share his thoughts, maybe it would’ve been a bit long but he shared he thoughts.”

I suspect it was the nature of the response, being a personal attack on Macdonald, that didn’t go down so well.

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Labour supports paying three times as much for a boat

January 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government has defended its decision to award an $8 million ferry contract to a Bangladesh company rather than a local boat builder as the option offering the best value for money.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the difference between the local tenders and the Bangladesh bid was around $14 million.

“The numbers here were just too big to bridge, whatever way you want to cut it. If we were to prefer New Zealand suppliers at any cost, it would be a recipe for economic disaster,” Joyce said.

Twelve shipyards from Australia, Bangladesh, China, New Zealand, Poland and Singapore submitted tenders for the 43m vessel.

If the costs are similar, then there is sense in favouring the local company. But its would be a reckless use of taxpayers money to pay three times the price, just to go with an NZ company.

Also note that with CER one can not discriminate between NZ and Australian tenders.

Labour’s spokesman for economic development, Shane Jones, said the contract showed the Government’s new procurement rules were merely paying lip service. “It is bizarre New Zealand’s boat building industry was good enough for Oracle Team USA but is not good enough for the Pacific Islands,” Jones said.

So Labour support the taxpayers paying an extra $14 million. Is it now their policy that they will withdraw from all trade agreements and CER and ban all overseas companies from being able to tender for NZ Government contracts? I presume they will also be happy for overseas Governments to do the same, and ban NZ companies from being able to win overseas Govt contracts.

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Trevett on MPs and summer

December 26th, 2013 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

After a year of travels, both domestic and international, Mana leader Hone Harawira also decided to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors, the great explorers, and set up an expedition of his own: the goal being to find out where his office in Parliament actually is.

Heh.

Labour MP Shane Jones will finally give up his favourite pastime of riling up those in his own party by shredding the internal organs of the Green Party and singing paeans to mining, casinos and big business. He will instead be elected as leader of the political party that is his true turangawaewae: Act.

Shane would be an excellent Leader of ACT!

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Labour attacking public servants

December 6th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour has accused one of New Zealand’s top public servants of behaving like an “emperor” and warned he may struggle to gain a Labour government’s confidence.

Labour forestry spokesman Shane Jones questioned the decision of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to bring more than 30 officials to yesterday’s appearance before the commerce select committee.

The number of officials is a reflection of the huge number of areas MBIE has. If there is a question on immigration, then the energy person can’t really answer it.

Jones said the large team brought to the committee “hinted at the CEO’s vanity” and said Smol had a “lot of work to do” to create confidence from Labour MPs when they next took power.

“If that doesn’t change, by this time next year, then the Kaiser will learn it’s a different world,” he said.

So Jones is saying he may sack the CEO, and compares him to a German dictator. Charming.

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Wood prices

November 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s outspoken economic development spokesman Shane Jones has lashed out at “arrogant” foreign owners of New Zealand’s forests, saying their pursuit of the highest possible profits comes at the expense of local workers, communities and the wood processing industry.

Jones’ comments come as he and industry figures ring alarm bells that local processors are being priced out of the log market as skyrocketing Chinese demand drives prices higher.

So the global price of wood is increasing. I’m not sure this is a bad thing for a country that produces wood.

Jones seems to be saying that owners of NZ forests should refuse to take the highest price for their wood, and should sell locally for a cheaper price.

I wonder if this logic extends to all industries? Should all companies be told they are not allowed to accept a high foreign price for their products until they have sold all they can domestically?

“These foreign-owned companies rely on ratepayers to upgrade roads so they can move their logs to the ports, they rely on New Zealand’s social insurance when workers in the forests are killed.

Neither of these statements are true. When logs are moved on roads, they pay for the costs of maintaining and upgrading roads through road user charges. They pay up to $368 per 1000 kms.

Forest companies also pay ACC. Their levy rate is $6.35 per $100 of wages. This is set to cover the costs of accidents and deaths in that industry.

“The foreign owners’ agenda has eclipsed the rights and interests of the New Zealand taxpayer and workforce, this is not a sustainable forest policy.”

Jones is good about complaining, but does he have a solution? Is he saying Labour will pass a law to ban companies from selling goods overseas if they can be sold cheaper in New Zealand?

Hancock did not return the Herald’s calls but Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls said owners were looking for the best return on their investment.

“Most forest owners sell somewhere between half and two thirds of their product to domestic mills but there’s always competition for those logs from overseas buyers, so it does come down to a matter of economics, which markets the domestic mills are selling into and what they can afford to pay for logs.”

The global price of wood is high and rising. I don’t see you can do much about that.

 

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Labour’s drilling split

November 27th, 2013 at 5:35 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The standoff over deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast is threatening a split in Labour.

Labour MP Shane Jones has backed oil drilling giant Anadarko in a move which puts him at odds with other members of the caucus, including environment spokeswoman Moana Mackey who today called for a slow down in the mineral exploration programme. …

Speaking on Maori TV’s Te Kaea tonight, Jones was outspoken about attempts to stop Anadarko from deep sea drilling and said the protesters should remember that the company had a statutory right to be there.

“Protesters need to bear in mind we are buying oil out of the Gulf of Mexico and other far-flung places when we should be focusing on making an industry in our own country.”

Anadarko was spending a million dollars a day on its programme and that was good for New Zealand, Jones said.

Jones is Labour’s spokesperson on economic development and is ranked No 5, on their front bench. I hope he speaks for Labour, but does he?

But Mackey appeared to back the protesters and blamed the Government for Greenpeace’s announcement that it intends to challenge the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision to allow Anadarko to carry out deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast .

She said the regulatory environment under which Anadarko was permitted to drill was “deliberately permissive” and the process had been a shambles.

She also accused the Government of being desperate to expedite deep sea oil and gas exploration because it had no plan B for jobs – which also puts her at odds with Jones, who believes mining is a potential boon for jobs.

Mackey is ranked No 18 and is the Environment Spokesperson. Will the views of No 18 trump the views of No 5?

David Shearer is the Energy Spokesperson. What are his views? Maybe Labour can have three different policies on this issue, rather than just two!

Labour leader David Cunliffe was unavailable for comment.

I bet he was.

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Jones call for fewer building permits

November 18th, 2013 at 6:06 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former minister of building and housing Shane Jones wants to simplify renovation compliance measures and cut costs.

Jones, Labour’s building and construction spokesman, said much could be done to improve the system.

“Where a builder is a registered, certified builder, like a plumber or sparkie, where they are working on odd jobs or renovations that don’t require a great deal of attention from compliance because it’s low risk, you shouldn’t need to get a building permit, just like you don’t need to get a building permit for a plumber or sparkie to fix your place.

“So if the remedial job has a level of risk not in orbit, why tie up building inspectors where a competent builder – who can be sued because he’s registered – can just get on and do it.”

Once again I tend to agree with Jones. But does his caucus? Will this idea become Labour policy?

Someone should keep a running tally of all the stuff Jones announces as Labour spokesperson and see if any of it actually ends up backed by his caucus.

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Is Jones speaking for Labour?

November 12th, 2013 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

The seafood industry is calling for a curb on councils’ powers to control fishing in the name of marine biodiversity protection, saying they are threatening their business and growth prospects.

The issue has surfaced after the Marlborough District Council followed up a 2011 study into ecologically significant marine sites in its region with moves to require consents to dredge or bottom-trawl in some areas.

The industry fears it will set a precedent other councils will follow, giving them the power to limit fishing using the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Labour economic development spokesman Shane Jones is backing the industry and calling for the law to be clarified to stop councils using a “side wind” to achieve a ban on commercial fishing.

I don’t disagree with Jones, but is he speaking for Labour on this issue? Does Labour support a law change to remove this power from local Councils? Or is this another case of “Yeah, Nah” where one MP says one thing, and another says something different?

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