Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has issued New Zealand First MP Shane Jones a public telling off for appearing to question the integrity of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
And not only that: she has given her entire Cabinet a dressing-down.
“My expectation is [that] ministers focus on doing their jobs and not on National,” the Prime Minister said on Thursday.
Jones, the Regional Economic Minister, on Wednesday risked breaching the independence of the Serious Fraud Office which is investigating National Party donations.
“We will study every single step they take to ensure, because it’s the National Party, it’s not whitewashed,” Jones said in Parliament.
Ardern on Thursday made it clear to the public Jones was in the wrong.
“The SFO absolutely have operational independence and that must be maintained,” she said.
Okay so Ardern has said Jones was wrong and has “told him off”. Now normally the Minister will apologise, say they were wrong and be penitent but …
But Jones is far from penitent.
“I have every right as a Parliamentarian to have high expectations of the SFO,” he told media on Thursday.
So he is basically giving the finger to the Prime Minister. And he knows he can do this because …
And New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is not phased. When asked if he reprimanded Jones on Wednesday, he replied: “Why would I need to do that?”
It is clear that the Prime Minister has no actual control over Ministers not in her party.
Could you imagine that happening with Clark? with Key? Not in 1,000 years.