Shearer defends Jones

Adam Bennett at the NZ Herald reports:

Mr Shearer has been calling on Act leader John Banks to be relieved of his ministerial portfolios while police investigate whether he breached the Local Government Electoral Act by declaring donations to his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign from German billionaire Kim Dotcom as anonymous.

But he said last night the questions around Mr Jones’ involvement in the Yan case were not as serious as those around Mr Banks donations from Dotcom.

The strength of the evidence against Mr Jones was “very arguable”.

Mr Jones has declined to comment on the matter.

Shearer’s comments defy comprehension, and reinforce that this is just “gotcha” politics rather than anything serious.

Let’s look at what the two cases have in common. Dotcom was a request to buy a house. Yan was to gain NZ citizenship. Both donated to politicians campaigns, and had politicians advocate on their behalf.

But in the case of Banks, he was neither MP nor Mayor when he advocated – and most importantly he was not the decision maker.

But in the case of Jones, we was the actual Minister who made the decision to grant citizenship. He did it against the advice of officials. He knew of the allegations that Liu was a wanted criminal, with multiple identities. Yet he still gave citizenship, and had a special ceremony in the Labour Caucus Room for it, attended no doubt by some of the MPs Liu had financially supported.

While in the Dotcom case, officials made no recommendation, yet it was still turned down.

So for Shearer to claim the questions around Jones are “not as serious” as those around Banks is a position not grounded in reality.

Also at least Banks has fronted up and answered questions (albeit not that well) on his issue. However Jones has spent years refusing to answer the question of why he granted citizenship against the advice of officials – except the obvious one that it was to keep his colleagues happy, who had been receipients of largesse from Liu.

Shearer’s comments on the Liu case mean we can pretty much ignore him in future on issues of ethics.

UPDATE: The original stories on this back in 2008 said that the room in Parliament used for the special citizenship ceremony was the Labour Caucus Room. I am informed that Mr Samuels says it was in fact the Maori Affairs Select Committee Room (which needs an MP to book it). The ceremony was two days after the approval, in contrast to the normal process where it takes weeks.

I also understand that Jones says he granted citizenship because he was told Liu could be executed upon his return. This is crap though, as Liu had permanent residency anyway. Also if someone really fears for their life, they seek asylum. He was wanted in China on fraud charges, and simply didn’t want to face them. There isn’t a single shred of proof that he feared for his life because he was associated with the Falun Gong, as he now alleges. What there is proof of is that he lied on immigration documents, had multiple passports and multiple identities and was wanted by Interpol.

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