Radio NZ reports:
Mr Jones – who is Regional Development Minister – yesterday attacked the dairy giant, saying it needed to be restructured and its chair should “catch the next cab out of town”.
Mr Peters defended the comments and said “heads should roll” at Fonterra.
“It goes to the top and the buck stops there,” he said.
“I can’t believe somebody responsible would be in the job still.”
In March, the dairy cooperative announced its first ever loss, of $348 million for the six months to September.
“A massive hundreds of hundreds of millions of dollars loss needs an explanation … there needs to be some accountability,” Mr Peters said.
At Parliament, Mr Jones told reporters he stood by his criticisms which he said he made in his personal capacity.
It’s ridiculous to claim Peters and Jones are speaking in a personal capacity. If they were, no one would care what they think of Fonterra or report it. They’re not farmers or shareholders.
If Jacinda Ardern came out and said that the Governor of the Reserve Bank is incompetent and should be sacked, would anyone think she was speaking purely in a personal capacity. Of course not.
And to make it beyond doubt Jones made the comments on the way out of the Debating Chamber, and referred to the Government now being scared to take on Fonterra.
For Ardern to claim he was not speaking as a Minister is farcical. It just shows she is unable to exert any control over her Government.
Speaking at Fieldays in Hamilton, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern endeavoured to distance the government from Mr Jones’ comments.
“Ministers share personal opinions all of the time, but what I’m making clear here is was he said is not government policy … end of story.”
Ms Ardern said she would not be disciplining Mr Jones as he made clear his comments were his own opinion.
So can any Minister now call on any board chair to be sacked and it is nothing to do with the Government?
It is a form of nasty bullying. The companies involved can’t respond as they would to other critics, because they are Ministers who can make life difficult for them.
The people whose opinion counts about Fonterra are actual farmers. If they think Fonterra is doing badly they can vote against Directors.
This can also be seen as a form of protection racket. Some industries and companies donate generously to NZ First. I bet you Shane never comes out demanding their chairs be sacked. Allowing Jones and Peters to behave like this, is incentivisng companies to donate to NZ First as a form of insurance against these attacks.