Edwards on Jones

September 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Edwards blogs:

Shane Jones is one of only two people I have ever hung up on. Trevor Mallard is the other. I don’t take well to being bullied or abused.

Now that’s a good opening line!

I do Mallard an injustice by mentioning him in the same context as Jones. I have considerable respect for Trevor and nothing but contempt for Jones.

If I ever had doubts that such contempt was deserved, they would have vanished over the past couple of weeks in the face of his numerous appearances on television. This is not a man the Labour Party can ever afford to have as its Leader. This is not a man the country can ever afford to have as its Prime Minister. He would almost certainly bring shame to both offices.

Little chance Shane will be Leader or PM. But he could well end up Deputy if that is the price of his support for second preferences.

Here’s Jones on his Dalmatian forefathers: ‘I tell you what, a lot of them were fairly lusty individuals, because they didn’t always marry those Maori wahines they applied their biological gum-spears to.’ (Penis reference. Espiner laughs.)

Jones again, following his call to David Cunliffe: ‘What the hell is a soft piece. Doing things in a soft fashion has never really been a failing of mine’ (Penis reference presumably boasting his ability to sustain an erection. Espiner finds this very funny.)

And here’s Jones, in a speech referring to what he intended to do to John Key:  ‘I’m going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot and then I’m going to get those callipers and cut them, and then the mercenary of capitalism can suffer what he deserves – a dead cat bounce.” (Reference to castrating John Key)

And Jones on Labour’s proposed ‘man ban’: ‘… the overwhelming response [in his electorate] is the public doesn’t want the country run by geldings.’ (Reference to women as castrated male horses.)

Brian is right to point out that Shane does seem rather obsessed with certain appendages.

He definitely has mass appeal, but he is also a bit of a walking time bomb.

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Labour candidates competing for anti-Key statements

September 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

First Grant Robertson borrows from Russel Norman:

John Key, Robert Muldoon, Kim Dotcom?

I am in the middle of a leadership contest but what I do know is that the first two of those people have such similarities; it would be very hard to choose between them.

So Grant also thinks John Key is like Sir Robert Muldoon. I’mm not sure if he is demented or just playing to the audience.

But Shane Jones goes one better:

Labour leadership hopeful Shane Jones says he wants to string up Prime Minister John Key with a bungy cord around a “sensitive spot.” …

“I’m going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot and then I’m going to get those callipers and cut them and then the mercenary of capitalism can suffer what he deserves – a dead cat bounce.”

Imagine if say John Key had spoken about Helen Clark like that. He would have been denounced by every newspaper and media outlet in New Zealand.

Speaking from the Marshall Islands this morning, Key said Jones’ intentions towards him “sounds painful”.

“If they want to spend their time taking about parts of my anatomy or my personality they are free to do so. I don’t think it will win them a lot of votes,” he added.

Key is pretty much the opposite of Muldoon when it comes to dealing with with personal attacks.

 

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A win for Robertson

August 31st, 2013 at 5:03 pm by David Farrar

Just got back from Levin where they had the first of 12 meetings for Labour members and affiliates to hear the leadership contenders and ask questions.

Media were invited to the speeches part, hence why I went along. They initially said I could not report on it, as they get to decide who is and is not media. But then a compromise was done where I could report on it from just outside the building. I was more than happy with the compromise, as it was in fact nicer in the sun than in a crowded room.

Labour had around 300 people there, which is pretty impressive for a meeting in Levin. They’ll be pretty happy with that.

There are stories up on NZ Herald and Stuff on the speeches.

Shane Jones was first up. He used a couple of his previous lines, including taking on the $50 million gorilla which went down well. The key thrust of his speech was that he is the only candidate who can reclaim or recover the territory Labour used to have, which National now has. He spoke on the need for more regional development and said that does involve mining and drilling (not those exact words though). Called himself the embodiment of both old and new NZ, and related his mixed heritage.

He finished with saying that the real enemy was apathy (I thought it was the gorilla!), and had a classic line about how he wants Labour to get over 40% so that it doesn’t need a Green urologist to lift them up!

A good speech from Shane, which played to his strengths. I would be surprised if he got a lot of votes though. A reasonable level of applause at times, and at the end.

Second up was David Cunliffe. He started a bit subdued, but this may have been deliberate to avoid going over the top like at his campaign launch.  He spent most of the first half attacking the Government and saying that for 250,000 kids in poverty the Kiwi Dream is a nightmare. Lots of applause. He said the current kids may be the first generation to end up worse off than their parents and said Labour is the best hope for restoring the dreams.

He also borrowed from Helen, and called the Key Government corrosive. Then he showed he had done his homework by quoting regional unemployment stats and finally pledged to abolish the Kapiti Expressway if elected PM (not quite sure how that will help create local jobs!).

He also played to his strength by saying Labour managed economy well when last in Govt, and would do so again with him. said National focuses too much on welfare fraud and not enough on tax evasion, which was very popular. Tried to deal with the JAFA issue by saying he was born in the Waikato. He concluded by saying the red tide is rising and will take NZ forward. I almost expected them to start singing the international socialist song!

Overall a very good speech, that went down very well with the members there. One member tweeted that while he liked the speech, Cunliffe mainly repeated Labour policy and didn’t make the case for why he, not the others, should be leader.

Finally they/we heard from Grant Robertson. He started low key but got people warmed up with a joke about how John Key had said the leadership contest is a reality TV show. he pointed out reality TV shows are popular and that John Key has his own show, called You Are The Weakest Link – which of course they loved.

Grant obviously decided there is no way he was going to let Cunliffe be seen as the candidate of the left, so he pledged in quick order full employment, a living wage for all and a 50% female quota for caucus. They cheered and cheered.

The living wage commitment was specific – he will give a date by which every state agency must pay every employee at least a living wage (over $18 an hour) and also every contracted company to them must do the same. This is basically a 40% pay increase for every cleaner. By no coincidence, the room was full of Service and Food Worker members, many of whom are no doubt cleaners.

Grant also pledged to repeal National’s employment law changes, which again went down well. Then he had another line on how Steven Joyce thinks economic development is a night out at Sky City.

Grant’s use of humour to attack Key and Joyce is, for my money, an effective strategy. Just calling them evil uncaring people won’t convince anyone but the base. Humour used effectively though can undermine.

Then at the end Grant spoke on the need to win the next election at all costs, and how Labour needs to be unified to do that, and he is the person who can lead and unify the party.

I thought at the end of it, that Grant clearly was best on the day. Cunliffe was very good, but Robertson excelled. he got the mix of policy, rhetoric, humour and “why me” just right. Cunliffe did a great attack speech, but didn’t make the case so effectively for why it should be him.

The danger for Robertson is that if Cunliffe clearly outclassed him at the first debate, or two, then the uncommitted MPs and unions would swing behind Cunliffe as the likely victor. I think he did more than enough to keep the contest very finely balanced.

After the speeches, they went into committee for the Q+A. Amusingly they kept the doors open so one could hear everything said outside if you tried to listen to it (I didn’t).

Chatted to a few people afterwards, and the consensus seemed to be that Robertson performed the best. However 11 more meetings to go.

What really struck me was how far left Grant was prepared to go to head off Cunliffe. This is in fact quite good for National. If Grant wins, he is on record at pledging to effectively increase the minimum wage to over $18, and to have a gender quota for caucus, plus full employment. I love how he pledges 40% pay increases plus full employment! What will be interesting is if Cunliffe tries to match these pledges. He did unilaterally announce the scrapping of the Kapiti Expressway so by the end of their campaign, I hate to think what they will be promising – all motorways closed down, rail for all, jobs for all, and $29 an hour minimum wage!

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Jones standing also

August 25th, 2013 at 7:28 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner has tweeted that Shane Jones will also stand for the Labour Party leadership. Robertson declared today and inevitable Cunliffe will declare, so it looks to be a three horse race.

I suspect Jones is not in it to win, but to gain enough support that the other candidates need his support to win, and to give him maybe Deputy or Finance.

Certainly livens the race up, and will be good to have a more economically moderate candidate in the mix.

Sonny Tau has put out a personal statement in support of Shane Jones:

With the Labour leadership contest now underway, many Māori have thrown their support behind Shane Jones, proud son of Ngāpuhi, who has what it takes to lead Labour, and is the sharpest knife in party’s drawer.

Shane has a formidable intellect, great political instincts and is a brilliant orator in both Te Reo Māori and English. No one can touch Shane – not even John Key or any other politician – when he is in full-flight addressing Parliament.

Shane brings critical constituencies that Labour needs if it is to be in a position to form a Government.

He brings the Māori vote, which Labour knows it can no longer take for granted. Listening to Māori political pundits over the past few days, all have said it is imperative for Māoridom that Shane either leads Labour or is appointed deputy.

No other Labour MP has the understanding, authority or mana to drive through the Māori agenda as Shane can.

Another important constituency he brings is the business world. Shane has chaired a major fishing company and has acquired business acumen within the corporate world. There are precious few within Labour ranks who have this string to their bow. …

I urge Māori to be in touch with their Labour associates over the following days, to express their support for Shane Jones. I will be doing this myself.

That reinforces my belief that Shane is really standing for Deputy.

If Cunliffe beats Robertson, he could well make Jones Deputy. Where does that leave Grant? He can’t be Finance Spokesperson.

If Grant wins, he needs someone from Auckland as his Deputy. Either Cunliffe or possibly Jacinda. Does Jones get Finance?

The loser in all this may be David Parker. Hard to see him holding Finance regardless of who wins.

 

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So what is Labour’s policy on oil and drilling?

July 22nd, 2013 at 1:24 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial Labour Party bigwig Shane Jones has moved to position the party well clear of the Greens and their “anti-development” message.

In Taranaki for a two-day visit with party justice spokesman list MP Andrew Little, the regional development spokesman spent much of the first day pow-wowing with oil and gas industry players.

“I am keen to defang these misapprehensions that are abounding that somehow industry has disappeared from our purview.

“Nothing could be further from the truth and if my visit provides the opportunity to reinforce the centrality of jobs, the importance of industry and the need for a future Labour-led government to assuage whatever anxieties might be there in the minds of employers or future investors then I am up for the task,” he said.

Offshore oil and gas drilling was an essential feature of domestic and export growth, Mr Jones said, and businesses and enterprises enabling it would get full government support.

Shane may say this, and believe this, bus his caucus doesn’t. They’ve voted with the Greens on pretty much every law around drilling and off-shore oil.

They send Shane into Taranaki to say Labour supports off-shore drilling, and Moana Mackey into Gisborne to say they’re against it.

UPDATE: Further proof of Labour saying one thing in Taranaki and another thing elsewhere. Last year Grant Robertson was campaigning against oil prospecting.

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Dom Post on Jones inquiry

March 13th, 2013 at 6:30 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Given the paucity of talent within Labour’s ranks and the divisions within the party, Mr Shearer’s desire to restore a supporter to the front bench is understandable.

The public, however, may well have different priorities when it comes time to assess Labour’s fitness to operate the levers of government.

Ms Provost’s investigation found no evidence of corruption, but it did find ample evidence of poor judgment on the part of the former associate minister of immigration.

A harsh summary is not corrupt, just incompetent.

She found Mr Jones acted hastily before he was in possession of all the relevant information, did not consult either police or the Immigration Service despite knowing both were investigating Mr Liu, and failed to document the reasons for his decision.

Immigration and citizenship cases are fraught with danger for ministers because the final say on cases rests with them and because those making representations on behalf of applicants are often their parliamentary colleagues.

It is easy for the perception to develop that it is not what applicants offer New Zealand that is important, but who they know.

Especially when the applicant boasts to the Department that he is mates with MPs, insists on a quick decision despite officials telling him they will recommend no.

In those circumstances the best protection for ministerial reputations and New Zealand’s reputation as a country free of corruption is for the decision-making process to be properly documented.

Mr Jones’ failure to record why he ignored official advice to reject Mr Liu’s application and his failure to even document under which section of the Citizenship Act he granted Mr Liu’s application brought his reputation and that of New Zealand into disrepute.

As Mr Jones observed, officials were also criticised by the auditor-general for failing to adequately brief the minister and assuming he understood his responsibilities. Fair enough. It is as important for them as it is for ministers to follow proper process.

However, having explained their concerns about Mr Liu’s dual identity and the fact he had been red-flagged by Interpol, they had grounds for thinking the minister would put the integrity of New Zealand’s citizenship ahead of his impatience to be done with a vexatious case.

The question voters may want to ask themselves ahead of the next election is would they employ someone with Mr Jones’ impetuous nature to run their company. If not would they trust him to run a government department?
A question that may be answered in time.
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The Jones and Liu report

March 12th, 2013 at 2:37 pm by David Farrar

The Auditor-General has reported their findings into the decision by Shane Jones to grant Bill Liu citizenship against official advice. This is a matter of discretion for the Minister so it never has been about whether the decision was legal.

Here are some extracts from the report:

Mr Barker acted properly in deciding that he could not make the citizenship decision for Mr Liu, but we do not consider it was wise for him to have signed the letter – at least in that form. We appreciate that the letter was one of many pieces of correspondence that a Minister has to deal with in the course of a busy week, and that it related to procedure rather than any substantive decision. Nonetheless, it created an impression that Mr Barker would be taking a personal interest in Mr Liu’s file. 

Mr Barker would have been better either to amend the letter to make clear that he would not be personally involved in the file or to arrange for someone else to sign the letter.

It is worth noting that signing a letter on an issue regarding someone you had a personal connection with, was sufficient grounds for Nick Smith to resign as a Minister. Of course Barker was defeated at the 2008 election.

Mr Jones had significant concerns about the advice he was given, but did not take steps to clarify that advice with other officials. He also knew that both the New Zealand Police and Immigration New Zealand were still actively investigating Mr Liu, but did not consult those agencies before making his decision. In keeping with his usual approach for ministerial decisions, he wanted to make a final decision.

A serious mistake.

He did not record the reasons for his decision, and Mr Liu’s advisers were notified of his decision before the Department was notifed.

That is appalling. Liu got told before the Department was even told! This shows he had special access.

This effectively deprived officials of an opportunity they might otherwise have had to correct the misunderstandings on which Mr Jones’ decision was based.

I still can’t believe he told Liu before he told his own department.

One recommendation is:

We recommend that the Department of Internal Affairs and the Minister record the reasons for any significant decisions they make on citizenship applications, particularly when the decision involves a departure from normal policy or procedure. 

Recording the reasons for decisions is important to ensure transparency. It also provides an important protection if  concerns are raised that the decision has been made for an improper purpose. 

This has always been my major criticism of Jones. If you are going to go against a recommendation, a semi-competent Minister should do a file note and state why.

Now Jones did produce a three page file note to the Auditor-General. But because it was not attached to the official files, and not recorded in any official way, it is impossible to know if the file note was written at the time, or written some time later after the story blew up. The fact that the DIA official involved states the file note is inaccurate in parts damages the credibility of this claimed file note. The whole purpose of a file note is to attach it to the file.

We recommend that a Minister considering making a citizenship decision against the advice of officials should explain their reasons, and give officials the opportunity to respond, before finalising the decision. 

Although ultimately the decision is for the Minister to make, this additional step would give officials the opportunity to confirm that the proposed decision is within the terms of the Citizenship Act 1977 and is not based on any misunderstanding of relevant policies or the facts.

And it goes without saying don’t tell the mate of your mate before you tell your own officials.

Some interesting stuff also on the Cunliffe decision:

The advice provided to Mr Cunliffe by officials, in particular the advice provided by the senior legal adviser in August 2007, conveyed, in reasonably strong terms, that it was open for the Minister to revoke Mr Liu’s residency. We were told that Immigration does not usually provide advice that strongly advocates that the Minister should make a particular decision. The strongly worded advice on this occasion was not common.

In other words, it was not a marginal call in the eyes of the Department.

In our view, this decision was made in an appropriate way. It represented a sensible way in which the difficult decisions arising from unproven allegations could be addressed. The reasons for the Minister’s decision were made clear, and were formally recorded on the file in the way that was understood. 

Also, although the Department’s effective recommendation was not being followed, the decision-making process shows that Mr Cunliffe addressed the issues with considerable thought and care. There was no evidence of favouritism or that the Minister made the decision for improper reasons.

And this is the key difference between Cunliffe and Jones. Cunliffe documented his decision. This sounds a minor thing, but as the AG says is very important. When there is no reason given, and the person is a donor to your political party, then how can we know it was not because Dover told his mate Shane that this guy was a donor and they should look after him?

The detailed conclusions around the decision are:

We acknowledge that Mr Jones gave considerable thought to Mr Liu’s application, and that, in his view, it was important to make a decision reasonably promptly. 

However, in our view, he made his decision too hastily and without ensuring that he had a full understanding of all the relevant information. In particular, Mr Jones either did not understand or did not accept the Department’s advice that neither section 8 nor section 9 of the Citizenship Act were applicable.

A Minister who made decisions based either on ignorance or refusal to listen.

In our view, given that he knew there were ongoing investigations by Immigration and the New Zealand Police, he should also have consulted them before making his decision, as the Investigator’s note of the first meeting suggested he was intending to do.

Absolutely.

We also consider that Mr Jones should have recorded his reasons for authorising the grant of citizenship. He was making a decision against the Department’s recommendation, and the basis for his decision and reasons for departing from normal policy would not have been obvious from the papers. Indeed, on the face of the decision-making papers, it was not even clear under which section of the Citizenship Act he had authorised the grant.

Shane Jones is incredibly talented, but also notoriously lazy and sloppy. He has the potential to make a significant contribution to NZ Politics, and may get that opportunity to do so again as a frontbencher for Labour. But to succeed, he is going to have to make sure there is never a repeat of a situation like this.

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Beware the spin

February 14th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Labour MP Shane Jones has received a draft copy of the auditor-general’s report into his 2008 decision to grant Chinese billionaire William Yan citizenship, the report on which his political career hangs.

Neither Mr Jones nor MP David Cunliffe, who is also understood to have received a copy of the draft, will comment on the report.

However, sources suggested Mr Jones was optimistic that its contents were not damaging enough to harm his chances of a comeback to Labour’s front bench.

Stuff is reporting:

The Auditor General is reported to have cleared former immigration minister Shane Jones of any unlawful behaviour in his handling of an immigration case.

I would be very cautious of reports based on what Labour is leaking.

First of all, of course Jones will not be found to have acted unlawfully. No one has ever suggested he broke the law. That is not the issue.

The granting of citizenship has ministerial discretion. It is not unlawful to make a bad decision. It is not unlawful to ignore the fact that some one is a wanted criminal and has multiple aliases and is under investigation by four different agencies. But it is incredibly poor judgement.

I’ve never suggested that Jones personally benefited from his decision.  I think he was pressured to grant Liu citizenship to keep his mate and fellow MP Dover Samuels happy, and also the Labour Party fundraiser who had connections to his office and was being paid to “facilitate” the application.

Anyway I await the AG report with interest. What I am going to be interested in is the details. Did they find the mystery DIA official whom Jones claims told him Liu would be killed? Did they locate even one line of paperwork from Jones as to why he over-rode official advice? Did they locate any notes from Samuels disclosing that Liu was a donor?

UPDATE: Stuff is now reporting:

A report by the Auditor-General into Labour MP Shane Jones’ handling of an immigration case does not reach a ‘black and white’ conclusion, sources say.

Media today reported that Labour MP Shane Jones had been cleared by the probe. That would pave the way for his return to the front bench, from which he was demoted last year.

But a source, who had seen the report, warned the watchdogs conclusions were not straightforward in exonerating Jones.

“Those matters are a question of degree, and I would refrain from rushing to judgement…the arguments are quite complex.”

Another source agreed, saying the report is not “unequivocal.”

As I said, don’t fall for spin. Judge when the report is published.

 

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Another dodgy decision?

February 12th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Anne Gibson at NZ Herald reports:

A Chinese migrant convicted over an Auckland kidnapping and $1 million ransom plot was allowed to work here after support from a former Associate Immigration Minister.

Wonder which one?

She presented a letter written by Labour MP Shane Jones in 2007 granting a special direction to enable her to have a one-year open work permit, despite her conviction.

I would have though kidnapping was a serious enough crime that the appropriate response would be deportation, not a work permit!

Mr Jones said he did not know Ms Shi nor did he remember writing the letter when he was Associate Immigration Minister.

Shane really needs to start keeping better file notes.

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Jones vs Greens agains

November 11th, 2012 at 7:55 am by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

Northland-based Labour list MP Shane Jones has again hit out at the Green Party for opposing development of the regions’s resources, including oil and gas, which he says could help reduce spiralling Maori unemployment.

Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley this week announced which areas, including a large section of seabed off Ninety Mile Beach, would be opened up for oil and gas exploration next year. He said the Government had begun consultation with relevant iwi.

Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said the Government was “gambling with New Zealand’s economy” by allowing the exploration in deep water, “because if there is a leak there is no sure way to stop it”.

This is just exploration, not drilling. The Greens are against us even knowing what it down there.

But Mr Jones, who has clashed with the Greens before over the prospect of mining in Northland and also over the party’s criticism of the fishing industry, said Mr Hughes’ opposition was premature.

“Let the information be uncovered first. It may be that the area is commercially barren, not unlike the minds conceiving that Green rhetoric.”

Mr Jones did not think the prospects of any significant oil and gas industry in Northland in the short term were high, “but in the absence of information you can guarantee you’ll never see it up there”.

“Let these decisions be made in a rational fashion, not this kneejerk emotionalism that one comes to expect from the Green Party.”

Decisions made on science, not kneejerk emotionalism? That would be a good thing.

If only Shane was speaking for Labour. Alas. Spokesperson Moana Mackey tweeted:

No it’s his personal view

Labour needs a couple more MPs who are pro-economy and pro-science.

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More on Liu case

November 9th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jared Savage at NZ Herald reports:

Immigration officials questioned the decision to grant a wealthy businessman citizenship while he was under investigation by three government agencies, emails reveal.

Labour MP Shane Jones, then a Cabinet minister, awarded citizenship to Yang Liu against the advice of a senior investigator at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). …

Emails obtained under the Official Information Act reveal a senior Immigration NZ investigator wrote to Mr Ross after learning of the decision.

Russell Ogilvy asked whether Mr Ross recommended that citizenship be declined and whether he had told Mr Jones “to speak with his own department regarding the decision”.

Mr Jones was the Acting Internal Affairs Minister in this case but also the Associate Immigration Minister.

“The minister was advised of both the pending police and INZ investigations,” responded Mr Ross.

Yet not only granted citizenship, but approved the special ceremony:

The emails also reveal that Mr Jones granted Mr Liu an urgent private ceremony at the request of Labour MP Dover Samuels, despite the advice of another DIA official that he did not meet the criteria.

Criteria only apply to people who are not friends of the Labour Party.

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Shane Jones on Q+A on Ross Sea

October 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Shane Jones appeared on Q+A at the weekend to defend the Government’s position on fishing in the Ross Sea, from the Greens. This was notable for several reasons.

  • Jones is currently suspended as a spokesperson for Labour, so shouldn’t be agreeing to go on TV shows unless he no longer regards himself as bound by caucus discipline
  • He was (again) attacking the Greens
  • He was implicitly defending the Government’s position

Shane said:

I actually think the Kiwis are in a fantastic position of leadership, etc. They used a science-based approach. The science around that particular fishery is considerable, not only based on published papers from our own scientific community, but acknowledged by the Aussies and a host of others. Now, if it comes to pass that we completely lock it up, etc, well, that will be a decision that’s made on the basis of values. The fishing industry are there at the moment. I don’t think that their impact is anywhere near as destructive as Gareth would have it. I mean, if you take that money out of the industry, and it’s vastly more than $20 million, I mean, what is the industry to do? It can retire back home and find fresh activities. They’re not going to find activities with Gareth’s approach where they’re banning aquaculture and they’re banning fish farming.

And on the Greens and Greenpeace:

Um, I think Gareth ended up doing the bidding of the green priests, otherwise known as Greenpeace. They are an international franchise organisation, and they raise a great deal of money from our country, and they should expect to be criticised, as we are. Did the workers deserve to be dissed by the Green Party? No, they didn’t. I mean, I think it’s hypocritical at one level. Russel, someone I considerably respect as their leader, is up in a manufacturing inquiry, and Gareth is out there acquiescing with the deprecation and humiliation of New Zealand workers. You can’t have it both ways.

So what does this mean. It certainly fist my theory of Shane being happier in NZ First. NZ First love the fishing industry (especially their cheques).

Claire Robinson noted on the panel:

Interestingly, you know, Shane Jones – that could have been a government representative sitting up there talking to you. He was so much along the lines of what the government might say.

Imagine what the rest of the Labour caucus feels, having a Labour MP on the coveted Q+A show defending the Government.

Scott Yorke blogs:

 Despite not being Labour’s spokesperson on conservation or fisheries (he’s not the party’s spokesperson on any issue, after being stood down pending the Auditor General’s investigation of the William Yan matter), Jones appeared to endorse the government’s approach to the marine reserve issue. He made no attempt to distance his own views from the official Labour position.

Labour hasn’t actually determined its position on the issue. So why did Jones appear at all? Did he get clearance from David Shearer before appearing?

Labour having no position at all, is confirmed in this story:

Labour says it has not taken a position on whether to back the United States proposal for a large reserve in the Antarctic’s Ross Sea or the Government’s proposal for a smaller reserve that are about to be debated in Hobart.

Conservation spokeswoman Ruth Dyson confirmed yesterday that the party had not taken a formal position, after colleague Shane Jones appeared on TVNZ’s Q&A supporting the Government’s reserve.

“Our consistent policy has been to make sure we always use the best science,” Ruth Dyson said, as it had done to support the net bans to protect Maui dolphins.

Saying our policy is to use the best science is a slogan not a policy. The question is quite simple – does Labour back the US proposal or the NZ proposal?

Scott continues:

Labour needs a leader who will bring wayward MPs into line, because the voting public will not enthuse over a party that does not have a clear and consistent message. If some MPs won’t accept that then they need to be encouraged to consider their futures.

Or maybe he already has. Either way, the ball is in Shearer’s court.

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Could Shane waka jump to NZ First

October 18th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

On Tuesday evening I was walking past Mac’s Brew Bar and sitting outside having a beer were Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

It got me thinking.

This is purely speculation, but it would solve issues for both men.

It is no secret Shane is not happy in Labour. He was furious with Shearer for calling in the Auditor-General. A number of women MPs there want him gone. He just clashed with Clare Curran on copyright parody exceptions. The grapevine suggests the Auditor-General’s report on his immigration decision may not be good for him. He will have a sense of grievance as I suspect he was told to let Liu become a citizen, as it will be good for Labour – and he now sees himself as the fall guy.

So with probably no future in Labour (does anyone think Shearer will make him front bench again?), but having undoubted political talent and smarts, could he prosper elsewhere? And NZ First is hardly likely to have objections over his ethical behaviour with citizenships, considering the Owen Glenn affair.

So what is in it for Winston (he is effectively the sole decision maker here)?

Well to give Winston credit he has defied the odds and survived multiple sackings and even being thrown out of Parliament in 2008, to come back in 2011. He has shown he is the great survivor. So what is the challenge for him now?

Well it is all about legacy, and his ultimate legacy would be a political party that can carry on without him, leaving him as revered founder. He is closer to 70 than 60, and can’t be keen on more than a couple more terms.

Now with all respect to his current caucus, none of them are up to taking over as leader. Some of them are competent and doing okay such as Tracey Martin and even Andrew Williams. But none of them could get 5% of the party vote.

However Shane Jones possibly could. He appeals to the same demographics as Winston, and are not that far apart on some policies – especially hating political correctness etc.

Could Jones defect to NZ First and become Deputy Leader (a job still vacant a year later), and heir apparent? He would add a couple of percent to the NZ First vote, and position them well to appeal to voters. If they hold the balance of power in 2014, then he is a senior Minister, and if Peters retires in 2017, leads NZ First into the next election. Fishing companies would be lining up to donate, and a fair few Iwi also I suspect.

Now this is all speculation, and there would be challenges, But it would give Jones a future, and would give Peters what he most needs – a party that can survive without him.

What do you think?

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Curran v Jones on parody law

October 15th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s communications spokeswoman, Clare Curran, has taken her colleague Shane Jones to task for wading into her portfolio area and criticising a Green Party bill to allow exemptions to copyright for the sake of satire.

In the Weekend Herald, Mr Jones said Green MP Gareth Hughes’ proposed bill to allow copyrighted work to be used for parody or satire was part of a “Green agenda” of economic vandalism and would endanger jobs by damaging companies’ brands.

However, Ms Curran said she did not agree with Mr Jones and his comments were contrary to Labour’s general policy on the issue.

She later told the Herald she had contacted Mr Jones.

She said Mr Hughes’ Copyright (Parody and Satire) Amendment Bill was in line with Labour’s policy.

“From my perspective and our policy perspective, it’s the mark of a civilised society to do so. So my view and our policy view are not in accord with Shane Jones’ views. We will have a discussion with him when we get back [from the United States].”

Labour’s caucus was yet to discuss the bill, but she would recommend the party support it if it was drawn from the member’s ballot.

The main article on what Jones said is here. Danyl has also commented here.

On this issue I agree with Clare and Gareth. I think parody and satire should be “fair use” of material under our laws – as it is in the United States. Companies should not be able to prevent satire or parody by resort to copyright laws.

However there is an issue about how far fair use stretches. Few would say you shouldn’t be able to highlight and mock extracts from an advertisement, but is it fair use to say take an entire five minute video, and edit it into a parody? Does it make a difference if a competitor does it, or a lobby group?

There is also the reality that any attempt to remove a parody or satire of an ad, will probably just see the ad get wider publicity and hosted more widely.

If Gareth’s bill gets drawn, I hope it passes first reading. There would be some interesting factors to consider at select committee though about how far “fair use” (or “fair dealing” extends.  How would we feel if some US lobby group did ads using Fonterra’s intellectual property to try and damage their brand in the US and cause harm to NZ exports?

For me the principle is clear, that parody and satire should be allowed. The details may need some work.

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Jones v Greens

October 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

A Greenpeace spoof of a Sealord advertisement has brought an angry reaction from Labour MP Shane Jones, who has accused the environmental group as anti-worker and duplicitous towards Maori.

Mr Jones, a former Sealord chairman, also singled out the Green Party, “the political wing of the Greenpeace movement”, for its support of the stunt, which he felt undermined the company in a tough economic climate.

The Greens do seem to be against a lot of jobs. Against mining jobs. Against oil jobs. Against fishing jobs. Against roading jobs.

Mr Jones said it was “a step too far” and the equivalent of economic vandalism at a time when jobs were scarce.

“When the Green Party and the Green Priests [Greenpeace] take on a role of using that ad to humiliate, trash and parody not only the brand of the company but its workers, it’s a step too far.”

Imagine the fun we’ll have if we have a Labour/Green Government in 2014!

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Espiner on Liu

August 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Guyon Espiner and 60 minutes did a 20 minute programme last night on the Bill Liu case. Espiner blogs on it today:

It’s not often that you put an item of nearly 20 minutes to air and still feel that there was plenty more of the story still to tell. 

60 Minutes Producer Chris Wilks and I spent a month digging deep into the story of Citizen Yan and had access to documents giving us an enormous amount of detail. 

But we still feel there is plenty we don’t know. 

In fact all the things which, for most people are very simple, in Yan’s case, are opaque. 

Like what’s his name? Yong Ming Yan, Yang Liu, Bill Liu, Wiremu Liu and William Yan are among his monikers. The search warrant for his Metropolis apartment also seeks documents in the name of Yong Ming Run. 

What about another simple question. Where does he live? That’s easy. He lives on the 35th floor of the MetropolisTower, known as Room 3505. He bought units 35H-L inclusive – property titles 138A/534, 138A/319, 138A/320, 138A/321 and 138A/322 – and combined them into one residence. 

He still lives there but he sold them in 2010 to Khai Wain Ng. The curious thing about that is that Khai Wain Ng had listed Room 3505 of the Metropolis as the address for his company, Global Market International Limited, as early as 2007. 

So is Liu also Ng? And still to this day we have no idea who Liu really is.

Curiously Liu’s early submissions claim that he was the Vice President of the Chinese Democracy Party. His lawyers argued that the Chinese government may want to persecute him for that and for information about the party’s 30,000 secret members. 

We tried to check with the CDP in New York but they would not confirm, or deny, whether he had held that position. Certainly their website names other Vice Presidents but no one going by the names Yan has used. 

In the paperwork, officials point out that if Yan felt he was the subject of political persecution there were appropriate avenues for him to take. 

“These claims, which effectively amount to an allegation of political persecution, could be advanced by Mr Liu before specialist forums namely the Refugee Status Branch and the Refugee Status Appeals Authority,” officials wrote. 

He did not do that. He appealed to the politicians and the politicians helped him. 

And did they ever help him.

Here are the questions that still need to be answered. 

How did Dover Samuels get to know William Yan and why did he go into bat so strongly for him? 

Why, after Rick Barker was introduced to Yan in 2005, did he take until mid-2008 to hand the case over to Shane Jones? 

What checks did Shane Jones make to see whether he had a conflict of interests in this case? We point out in the story that there is a shared business history between Jones and Liu. Liu was a director, and through his company Live Fish, a shareholder in the joint venture Crabco. One of the other shareholders was Te Ohu Kaimoana of which Jones was chair between 2000 and 2007. 

Now I am prepared to accept that this was a fact that Jones may not have had great interest or even awareness of. But did he check? Was it considered? We know that he knew of Liu’s role with Crabco and Live Fish because it was in the submission that QC John Billington made to Jones pleading the case for Liu’s citizenship. 

Pansy Wong also mentions the company, which she describes as a “joint venture with Talleys, Sealord and Sanford” in a letter received by Rick Barker’s office on February 4, 2008. 

David Shearer has said on Jones’ behalf that Jones had met Liu on one or two occasions. In what capacity? And why did the Internal Affairs official Johannes Gambo claim that Liu had rung him more than once during the process to claim that he had “big support” from Jones and from Samuels. 

It all looks very suspicious. Did Liu have a commitment from Jones he would approve it? Is that why Barker delegated it to Jones? And recall that Liu had paid $10,000 to a Labour Party fundraiser to help him with his application – and whose brother was the senior staffer for Jones.

The greatest mystery to me is why Jones approved the citizenship application and did so without documenting his reasons. 

He says he made a file note of an official telling him that Yan would be sent to his death and his organs harvested if he returned to China. 

Jones hasn’t produced the note and says he didn’t put it on the file. Why not? There are hand written notes from Jones on Parliamentary notepad paper in the file we saw. But not that one. 

He says he’s glad he didn’t put it on the file because the file “leaked”. But if you were a Minister making a controversial decision against the advice of officials wouldn’t you want your reasons to be there in black and white when the scrutiny came on? 

I don’t think it is unreasonable to suspect there was no file note ever made, and the reason is bogus. Jones can not produce the note, and it was not put on the file. He can not name the official, and no official can be found who said they gave such advise.

The worst case scenario is this is a case of citizenship sold for favours (not to Jones directly but to others in Labour). The best case for Jones is it is gross incompetence. To not do a comprehensive file note stating your reasons when you overturn the advice of officials and grant citizenship to such a dubious character is incompetent.

I personally like Shane Jones, and regard him as one of the best communicators in Parliament. He had great potential. But this Liu case has always hung over him. Unless he can produce some proof to back up his claims about why he granted citizenship against official advice – then he can not be allowed to become a Minister again – and hence a shadow Minister.

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Where in the world is Shane Jones

August 17th, 2012 at 2:49 pm by David Farrar

Where in the world is Shane Jones, and how long has he been there?

Whale thinks he is looking for jobs in the US. When was he last sighted in Parliament?

Nothing wrong with being overseas for a bit. All MPs do it. But, that depends on how long it is for and whether or not you have the permission of your party whips to be overseas.

[DPF: False alarm. He was in the House yesterday]

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More credibility issues for Liu and Jones

July 6th, 2012 at 1:39 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Gower at 3 News reports:

3 News has learned New Zealand authorities were working with Chinese counterparts to have a controversial Chinese millionaire extradited.

Yong Ming Yan, also known as Bill Liu, is the mystery Chinese man Shane Jones granted New Zealand citizenship against official advice.

And new documents show how why officials wanted rid of Mr Yan.

In China he faced allegations that he “misappropriated funds in excess of $61 million New Zealand dollars”, and “Chinese authorities wanted him returned to face charges and had requested his extradition.” …

Discussion between officials in both countries was happening just three weeks before Mr Jones’ decision, and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security referred to “the importance of the Yan case.”

The documents also detail a raid on Mr Yan’s apartment in the Metropolis tower. They show there was plenty of interest in taking part – not just from immigration – but also the Police’s Asian Crime Squad, Internal Affairs, Customs, the Serious Fraud Office, Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Fisheries.

Authorities were also informed by Internal Affairs that Mr Yan “is spending literally millions of dollars at the casino and associating with known criminals.”

So officials here and in China were working on having Mr Yan extradited. Then, at complete cross-purposes, Mr Jones’ decision meant Mr Yan got citizenship here in a special ceremony at Parliament.

Liu/Yan seemed to be under active investigation by almost every criminal or regulatory body we have.  You had Government officials in almost a dozen ourfits investigating him, and trying to get him extradited to stand trial in China – and in the midst of this Shane Jones grants him citizenship!!!

There is another story by Gower, which wounds the contention that Liu/Yan was a democracy activist and Falun Gong supporter who feared execution in China.

Now here’s a twist – the mystery Chinese millionaire, Bill Liu/Yong Ming Yan, is linked to an even more controversial Chinese billionaire caught up in a massive political scandal that is rocking the Communist Party to its core.

That link is through a man called Xu Ming - one of richest men in China.

Xu Ming is big time – touted as a potential Chinese Finance Minister before a foiled coup plot.

And Liu/Yan is apparently so close he even bought Xu Ming into New Zealand for a visit at one point.

Gower asks:

  • Why was Bill Liu/Yong Ming Yan so fearful of going back to China if he had connections with people so close to the very top of the Communist Party?
  • Why was Bill Liu /Yong Ming Yan - who claims to be a leader of the Chinese Democracy movement – prepared to host such people out in New Zealand?

Good questions. Noe ones asked by Shane Jones, but hopefully will be asked by the Auditor-General.

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Shearer shafts Jones

June 13th, 2012 at 6:02 pm by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

But Mr Shearer said Mr Joyce was being “extraordinarily arrogant in continuing to run this process while an inquiry is going on”.

“To me it beggars belief that he can continue to do this while an inquiry is going on.”

Not only should negotiations be put on hold until the inquiry was complete, but the tender should be reopened begun again from scratch.

He said there was “obviously something dodgy” around the deal “otherwise the Auditor General wouldn’t take a look”.

Deborah Coddington just pointed out that Shearer has just effectively declared Shane Jones is “obviously dodgy”, as Jones is under investigation by the Auditor-General also.

The only thing I can’t work out is did Shearer shaft Jones on purpose, or did he just do it by accident as he didn’t consider the stupidity of his comment?

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Judge says citizenship grant “highly suspicious”

May 31st, 2012 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff report:

A High Court judge has ruled that the way Chinese millionaire Yong Ming Yan was granted citizenship was “highly suspicious”. 

The full decision is online here.

I step back now and look at the evidence as a whole. Overall, it proves a situation that is highly suspicious. An adult male obtains two passports in different names and with different dates of birth. He uses them both to access Australia and the United States of America. He uses one of them to access New Zealand. He does not disclose his dual identities. New Zealand immigration documents are filled in and in some cases signed on his behalf. Four of the five are false in that they assert that there is no other identity. Regardless of the validity of the passports, this proven situation is highly suspicious. But to move from highly suspicious to proof beyond reasonable doubt of dishonest intention, more is required.

Proof beyond reasonable doubt is a very high standard.

UPDATE: Have had pointed out the highly suspicious comments made by the Judge refer to the application for citizenship, rather than the decision itself – so the Stuff story is somewhat misleading in that regard.

 

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Is Jones jumping?

May 31st, 2012 at 12:07 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

The tipline has been humming this morning with news about Shane Jones.

Several sources have confirmed that he is not happy with David Shearer for throwing him under the bus…the word is he even dropped the C-bomb in terse discussions with Shearer. He is set to announce his exit rather than wait around for up to year while the Auditor-General peers into his affairs as a minister.

Important to stress this is not verified, but I don’t think it is a surprise that Jones would be unhappy with what Shearer has done, considering that when the issue first arose Helen Clark refused to take any action at all. He would be thinking, why is there an inquiry three and a half years later?

UPDATE: I understand that one detail is not quite correct. It seems that Jones did not use the C word in the meeting with his Leader, but he used it afterwards in talking to other MPs about his leader!

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The Jones inquiry

May 31st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Auditor-General is inquiring into the Jones/Liu affair. The terms of reference are:

The inquiry will examine: 

  • the policies and practices of the Department of Internal Affairs when advising the Minister on applications for citizenship, in particular where the applicant’s ‘good character’ is in question;
  • how and why the Minister decided to grant citizenship to Mr Yan; and
  • any other matters the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

Francis Cooke QC has been appointed to lead the inquiry, which is being carried out under sections 16 and 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001. We will publish a report when the inquiry is completed.

It is a pity that the inquiry is into the citizenship issue only, as I think it would have been better to look into the totality of Yan’s dealings with the Government, and with Labour officials such as party fundraiser Shane Te Pou who was paid $5,000 to help Yan get citizenship.

On the positive side, the Auditor-General has the power to require people to provide information and to give evidence under oath.

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The Shane Jones issue

May 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It was good to see the media cover the Jones/Liu issue in detail over the weekend. Now the court case is over, one can look at where this should end up. First it is useful to consider all the background on Liu, when remembering how two separate Labour Ministers refused official advice to rescind his residency and to refuse him citizenship.

  • Born Yongming Yan on 15 June 1969
  • He was Chairman of Tonghua Jinma Pharmaceutical which collapsed after a loss of around NZ$100m and he fled China in 2001. It is alleged they were manufacturing placebos.
  • As he fled he gained identity documents in the name of Yang Liu, with a DOB of 20 October 1972. In total it appears he had four passports with three different dates of births, and two or three different names.
  • We charged in China with fraud and embezzlement. The alleged fraud totalled not $2.5m as reported by some media, but between $170m and $250m.
  • CCTV in China reported in 2007 that Australian authorities there confiscated and repatriated A$3.4m  to China. This was per a decision by the NSW Supreme Court.
  • Yan moved to New Zealand and purchased two properties worth $7.4m. He paid cash for them.
  • Yan claims to be a member of Falun Gong, and cites this as why he left China. However Falun Gong prohibit gambling, and Yan was the largest customer of the Sky City casino.
  • Paid Labour Party fund-raiser Shane Te Pou $5,000 to help his citizenship application. Te Pou (whom Clark had banned from the Beehive over ethical concerns) introduced him to Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker. Te Pou was also campaign manager to Dover Samuels, whom his brother had also worked for.
  • Samuels received a $5,000 donation from a Tamaki Wu who appears to be a fictitious person, and whose listed address is owned by Daniel Philips, brother of Shane Te Pou.
  • Yan also donated $5,000 to Chris Carter and to Pansy Wong. Rick Barker also received an “anonymous” $5,000 donation the same year.  It is also a matter of record that Labour held several fundraising dinners at the Jade Terrace restaurant, attended by Yan. At these dinners the “bucket” is literally passed around and no one knows how much any one individual contributed. They are reputed to sometimes raise a six figure sum in one evening.
  • Barker did not recuse himself immediately on the basis of his friendship With Yan. In fact he stayed involved until quite late in the piece when he delegated the decision to Shane Jones (Jones was not the Associate DIA Minister, and any Minister could have been chosen) – the one Minister whose most senior office staffer was the brother of Shane Te Pou who was being paid to help him get citizenship.
  • Jones was strongly advised not to grant citizenship, on the multiple grounds of the Interpol warrants, the criminal charges in China, the multiple identities and the ongoing investigation by Immigration NZ over whether he was even entitled to residency. Jones granted citizenship.
  • Yan given citizenship by Dover Samuels in the Maori Affairs Select Committee Room on 11 August 2008, five days after the decision.

As people can see this is not just an issue about one Minister, Shane Jones. It is about the combined decisions and advocacy of Shane Te Pou, Dover Samuels, Rick Barker, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones.

The Serious Fraud Office has told the Auditor-General they have an interest in this case, and may investigate also. I think it is appropriate to state in my opinion Shane Jones has not broken any law, and there is nothing to indicate that he received any personal financial benefit from making the decision he did. This makes this case different to Taito Philip Field, who did receive considerable benefits from his activities as an MP and was charged with corruption and bribery.

I don’t think any reasonable person could dispute that the decision by Jones was wrong. His claim that an official told him Yan would be executed in China has no basis in reality. Not only does DIA have no record of this advice being given, this was an issue over citizenship not deportation. Also Yan’s claims of being Falun Gong are also contradicted by the evidence. In fact he has no evidence to back up his claims, while the DIA concerns were all fully documented. Also as reported here, Jones deported a 25 year old resident back to Iran, despite her claims that she faced a death penalty for converting to Christianity.

Now as I said Jones is not the only player here. Many Labour people have acted wrongly in my opinion. Dover Samuels’ advocacy on behalf of his good friend was totally inappropriate, and bordering on the threatening. As we saw in the Nick Smith case MPs should generally not get involved in advocacy for their friends.

Rick Barker was wrong to not have immediately recused himself from the case, and wrong to delegate the decision to Shane Jones – the Minister whose SPS was the brother of Shane Te Pou who was helping Yan with the application. Barker would have known this as Te Pou introduced Yan to Barker.

David Cunliffe was wrong to have also gone against the advice of his immigration officials, and not rescind Yan’s residency (a move which was cited as a reason to make Yan a citizen).

Shane Te Pou was wrong to take $5,000 to help Yan with his citizenship application. That is an activity incompatible with being a political party fundraiser.

Shane Jones was wrong to grant citizenship, and to (presumably) authorise the special ceremony at Parliament.

As I have said previously, I do not believe Jones received any personal financial benefit from approving the citizenship. I do not believe Jones broke any law. But how you judge his actions can vary between a worst and a best case scenario.

The best case scenario for Jones is that he just gave Yan citizenship because Samuels asked him to. He trusted Dover’s judgement, and decided pleasing Dover was more important than the good character test in the Citizenship Act. Now this is not illegal, and Ministers do have discretion. However I believe such a failure of judgement means Jones is not fit to be a Minister again. If Nick Smith is removed as a Minister for a mere letter of advocacy, then Jones for granting citizenship to someone obviously not qualified has offended far worse.

Also, even putting aside the decision itself, Jones has shown incompetence in not documenting his decision. If I was a Minister of the Crown and I was making a decision that goes against official advice, I would absolutely ensure my reasons for doing so were documented, signed and dated and that this be added to the official file. It is because Jones failed to do such a basic thing, that there is enhanced speculation over what his motives were.  The fact that the decision was one where he had been lobbied by his political colleagues should have made it even clearer that he should have documented his decision.

That is the best case scenario. That is based on an assumption that no one ever told Shane Jones that Yan was a very wealthy man who had already donated to Labour, and presumably would donate more in future. This means that Dover Samuels never mentioned it, Rick Barker never mentioned it, Chris Carter never mentioned it, Shane Te Pou never mentioned it, and Shane’s brother Daniel never mentioned it despite being the most senior official and advisor in Jones’ office.

You see if any of those people did tell Jones that he had donated to Labour, and implied Labour would do well out of Yan in future if he was made a citizen, then it literally becomes a case of selling citizenships to donors. Now again this is not illegal, as far as I can tell. Only if a specific donation was promised for a donation, would it be illegal – and I am unaware of any evidence that this was the case. It was about buying influence, not buying a decision.

Now I don’t know of anyway we can resolve if it is the best case scenario or the worst case scenario. The SFO have said they have an interest in the case. However as I have said, there do not appear to be any laws broken. So I don’t see a role for the SFO, unless there is more to emerge than is currently in the public domain.

Now we have the letter from David Shearer to the Auditor-General. His PR says:

“Based on my discussions with Shane Jones, I believe that he followed a proper process. But given the differing statements made in and outside of court and the questions that have been raised publicly, I believe that an independent agency should review the case.

“I’ve asked for the Auditor-General to look into all the departmental as well as ministerial processes involved in this case.

The trouble is here that the issue is not generally about process. The process is that DIA provides a background paper and a recommendation and the Minister makes a decision. The only process issue I can think of is Jones failing to document his decision, but the wider issue is that Jones has made a decision which runs contrary to all the evidence (as opposed to unsupported allegations) in this case.

Now the Auditor-General is in no way bound by the terms of reference proposed by David Shearer. She has the authority and power to set a much wider terms of reference. If she does investigate, she should set as wide a terms of reference as possible.

But there is still a big problem. The Auditor-General’s scope is generally the Government. Would the Auditor-General be comfortable determining how much money Yan donated to the Labour Party. Could she determine whether Yan was the “Tamaki Wu” who donated to Dover Samuels (from the address of a house owned by Daniel Phillips, brother of Shane Te Pou). Can the Auditor-General find out how much Yan donated at the Fundraising dinners. Testimony would ne requited from Te Pou, Phillips, Samuels and Yan himself.  Maybe though this mystery DIA official whom Shane Jones can’t even name,whom he insists told him Yan would be executed, can be identified!

So overall, upon reflection, I am unsure if an inquiry by the Auditor-General will resolve issues. As I said, the issues are not just about Shane Jones, but about numerous Labour Party people – many no longer in Government. The Auditor-General may not have the scope to fully investigate, and at the end of the day it is impossible to prove whether or not Jones was or was not influenced by the fact Yan was a donor to Labour.

What I, and others, have advocated in the past is for an Independent Commission against Corruption, with powers like the SFO has. The NSW have one, which works well. An ICAC could investigate not just breaches of the Crimes Act, but abuses of power in the wider sense – such as Government decisions favouring donors and mates of MPs. They do not have the ability to prosecute but have the standing powers of a royal commission to investigate, report and recommend charges if warranted.

Ultimately this issue is likely to be resolved as a political question, not a legal one. David Shearer needs to consider whether he regards the following as appropriate:

  • Labour Party fundraisers acting as agents for people wanting a favourable Ministerial decision
  • Labour MPs advocating in the strongest possible terms on behalf of their friends and known Labour donors
  • Labour Ministers refusing the rescinding of residency and granting citizenship to donors, against the advice of officials
  • Labour Ministers not documenting any reasons at all for why they overturned a recommendation, and allowed citizenship to someone whose identity wasn’t even known, had an Interpol arrest warrant out for them, and was under investigation by multiple agencies
  • Labour MPs declaring donations by seemingly fictitious people, allegedly living at a residence owned by a senior Ministerial advisor

If David Shearer wants to say that is all fine, and is business as normal – well that is his call. But I suspect he knows in his heart of hearts that things were not kosher, and that Yan would never have been made a citizen if it were not for the fact he donated to and befriended multiple Labour MPs, through the efforts of Labour fundraiser Shane Te Pou.

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DIA official told “to stop asking questions” about Liu

May 26th, 2012 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

Jared Savage in the NZ Herald reports:

The public servant who handled the citizenship application of a millionaire Chinese businessman with multiple identities was told by his boss to “stop asking questions”, a transcript of court evidence shows.

Nothing to see here, just move on.

Mr Gambo wanted to make further inquiries with immigration authorities in Australia.

“I had a phone call that I was told not to ask any more questions because there was a lot of political pressure to send the file to Wellington.

“I was told to just process the file, send it to Wellington, don’t worry about asking any more questions.

“I have been working there for seven years and that was the first time I have had my boss phone me about an application.”

This is what is at the heart of the case. That a man with friends in the Labour Party, got special treatment.

Shane Jones has previously said he granted Mr Yan citizenship on humanitarian grounds because an Internal Affairs official told him Mr Yan risked execution if he returned to China.

Yesterday, an Internal Affairs spokesman said the files on the case had now been checked and there was no record of a departmental official discussing that issue with Mr Jones.

“We are not saying absolutely that didn’t happen, but we don’t have any [record of it].”

The execution in China angle was pushed by Yan, and his lawyer (who also happens to be Dover Samuels’ lawyer). As far as I am aware they have never provided a shred of proof. Anyone can assert something. What a competent Minister does is ask for proof, or at least consider the plausibility of the claims, such as will being a citizen rather than a permament resident in any impact whether or not he goes to China, and how consistent is it to claim to be Falun Gong, which bans gambling, and spent millions at Sky City casino.

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Liu found not guilty

May 24th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A millionaire businessman at the centre of a political scandal has been found not guilty of immigration fraud charges.

William Yan – also known as Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan – pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to false declarations on immigration papers in 2001 and 2002 and one of using false written statements to get citizenship.

He was found not guilty on all five charges against him in the High Court in Auckland this morning. …

Justice Timothy Brewer said the case had nothing to do with political connections and commentary.

His decision was based on the evidence in court about whether false declarations had been made on documents.

He said he found that the Crown had not reached the level of proof of beyond reasonable doubt which the judge said was a very high standard.

The court case, as I said before, was on whether Liu lied on his immigration forms. The issue with Shane Jones is whether he granted Liu citizenship against official advice because Liu had donated to various parties and MPs. His explanation that Liu faced execution because he was Falun Gong is very dubious when you consider:

  • The decision was about being a citizen vs a permanent resident, not about staying in the country
  • Falun Gong are strictly banned from gambling, Liu spent over $10m at Sky City
  • There is no written record of the advice Jones claims he was given by an official he seems unable to name

I’ll comment tomorrow on the request for the Auditor-General to investigate. The way the request has been worded is incredibly narrow. Any investigation should be full and robust. I’ll try and blog tomorrow what, at a minimum, an inquiry should look at.

The danger for the Auditor-General is that things could be a repeat of the Ingram Inquiry into Taito Philip Field. Helen Clark set very narrow terms of reference, related to Field’s ministerial role only. Ingram actually did a superb job with his inquiry, but due to his terms of reference found no breach by Field in terms of his ministerial role. As people know, the Police later charged Field and he was convicted of corruption and bribery. Ingram’s report was unfairly seen as a whitewash, because the terms of reference were so narrow.

The essence of the allegations against Jones is that he was influenced by MPs (principally Dover Samuels) to grant citizenship despite the lack of good character, and that part of the motivation for this was because Liu had donated to various MPs and parties. Now it is difficult to see how one can investigate this, unless you can access the donor records of the various political parties. And I am unsure that the Auditor-General has any power over political parties.

Hence I think a full inquiry with powers to compel witnesses and material would be the best way forward, if Shearer and the PM could agree on terms of reference. In the absence of such an inquiry an investigation by the Auditor-General is better than nothing happening – but the terms of reference need to be as wide as possible to ensure it is not a repeat if the Ingram Inquiry.

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