Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the Shane Jones departure

April 23rd, 2014

Shane Jones has left Parliament in the manner to which we have become accustomed, with self interest coming in first and second, and with the interests of the Labour Party (under whose banner he served) way, way back down the track. The timing of his departure – five months before an election, with Labour’s new team still struggling to get traction – could hardly be more damaging. But then, the MFAT job that has been hastily created for Jones by Foreign Minister Murray McCully was probably dependent on this timing, and this impact.

Presumably, Jones’ new salary is going to come out of either (a) the MFAT foreign aid budget or (b) the MFAT diplomacy budget. Reportedly, the role being designed for Jones will be at ambassadorial level. If so, this means that not only scant MFAT resources but the processes around the granting of diplomatic status and credentialling are to be contorted so that National can score political points in an election year. No one will be surprised that Jones has risen to the bait, but the cynicism of the exercise is breath-taking. In effect, MFAT now operates as the Minister’s personal fiefdom, and as a political slush fund.

True, appointing Jones to a roving ambassadorial role to stimulate economic development in the Pacific is consistent with McCully’s view that the foreign aid budget should be less about the alleviation of poverty at the grass roots, and more about being a venture capital fund for the region’s business elites. The trouble is, no one knows whether Jones’ salary will be money well spent, since McCully has plucked the role, the job description and the salary range out of thin air, apparently before any scoping work had been done as to whether (a) the job needs to be done and (b) whether the opportunity costs in raiding MFAT’s current budget to pay for it are justified.

Back to Jones. On his track record, Jones seems to deliver what his paymasters would expect of him. Sealords used to employ him, and they donated to Labour, big time in the 2011 election. Subsequently, Jones came to Sealord’s defence and attacked the Greens over what had been a Greenpeace spoof of a Sealord advertisement. Barely 48 hours ago, came the revelations that National Party grandee Wira Gardiner (the husband of Cabinet Minister Hekia Parata) had donated to Jones’ bid for the Labour leadership last year. So had NZ Oil and Gas board member Rodger Finlay. Not that we should read any significance into Jones’ strong public support for mining, and his heated attacks on the Greens for expressing concerns about the safeguards. No way.

Mr Jones is known for his strong pro-mining stance in Labour but said he had never met Mr Finlay before his cash offer. He is now Labour’s economic development spokesman and has a leading role in forming the party’s mining policy. He denied the donation would have any effect on that or that it had prompted his attacks on the Green Party, saying his views on mining were longstanding and he had always been critical of the Greens’ position.

Mr Finlay had not indicated he had any expectations.

In recent months, Jones has seemed wide open to job offers. There were strong rumours that he was considering jumping to New Zealand First, as a possible heir apparent to Winston Peters, when the old warrior finally steps down. There were also rumours that Jones was the mystery MP reportedly engaged in talks with Kim Dotcom, until Dotcom began negotiating in earnest with the Mana Party. If there were any grains of truth in those rumours, they have now been trumped by the job offer from National.

Obviously, Jones’ departure looks like a case of the rats leaving a sinking ship. Labour has been done no favours by Jones timing his departure at a point that can only feed that perception. On the upside, at least his exit spares Labour from trying to manage Jones during the election campaign, during which he would have almost certainly engaged in attacks on Labour’s partners on the centre left. Like Tau Henare, Shane Jones has now found his true home; working for National, on MFAT’s ticket, in furthering the interests of multinational fishing companies in the South Pacific.


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    1. 19 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on the Shane Jones departure”

    2. By Elaine Hampton on Apr 23, 2014 | Reply

      This is indeed a ‘coup’ for the National party using, as usual, public money. And that is the most galling aspect. Jones has always been short on ethics and class.
      Labour should be pleased, Cunliffe should have said ‘ thanks mate’ take him, doing me a favour.

    3. By Rob Taylor on Apr 23, 2014 | Reply

      Well, we can’t say that we didn’t already know that Shane Jones is a wanker…

    4. By Lucy on Apr 23, 2014 | Reply

      I am sorry that Shane has been found out – like Winston only happy with the baubles. At least Winston required power – the almighty $ seems to be all motivating Shane. I resent my money paying for someone to swan around the Pacific when the minister down sized all our actual embassies there. Oh well an Ambassador for Kai and fish trading – who loses?

    5. By Peggy Klimenko on Apr 23, 2014 | Reply

      This afternoon, I heard audio of John Key saying that Jones is “a welcome addition to the National government” or words to that effect.

      And this evening, Jones himself repeating his view that there are “too many geldings” in Parliament. Or it might have been in Labour. Whatever…

      This is indeed an act of breathtaking cynicism on the part of both National and Jones. They’ve not done anything illegal, but the ethics of it don’t pass the sniff test.

      In my view, they deserve each other. And we the taxpayers don’t deserve to be inflicted with them. I’ll be voting accordingly.

    6. By Jenny on Apr 23, 2014 | Reply

      Well said as always Gordon C…..Yep, good riddance to bad rubbish I say..never trusted Shane Jones ever.. self serving, ingenuous smart ass@#!…so thats one down.. a few more to go bout the TPPA lover Phyll Goff, and all the other Neo Lib dead wood of Labour

    7. By Elyse on Apr 24, 2014 | Reply

      Good riddance. This could backfire on the Nats and be a boost for Labour. His disdain for the Greens identifies him as out of touch.

    8. By Lance Talstra on Apr 24, 2014 | Reply

      Labour just suck utterly and completely. We have the choice between a bunch of corrupt liers and a bunch of incompetent, fragmented liers. How depressing.

    9. By Delia Morris on Apr 24, 2014 | Reply

      Well far more qualified commentators have gone over this through their columns. I can only say I am so glad he has gone. Now David Cunliffe and the Labour Party can concentrate fully on the election without this diversion in the form of Shane Jones. This has been a good move for Labour.

    10. By clairbear on Apr 24, 2014 | Reply

      From the perspective of Jones – I see no problem – it was obvious he was not happy – in fact according to a number of reports there are quite a few in the Labour caucus that are not happy.

      When they changed the rules about who would vote in the leader and the caucus (or a reasonable number) found out that under those rules they were left with someone they did not like and were not happy with – what do you expect.

      Some also self serving are staying for the cash or for the pension.

      People do things for their own reasons and when you are talking about your own future – then you have to please yourself first – many are self serving in this case – the editor of this blog left to serve his own interests.

      As to National – well maybe they saw a need and perhaps timing was a little obvious – but so what – What Labour forgot is that the primary role of a “Leader” is to well Lead. And what the unions who swayed the vote towards him forgot is that one of the main groups he had to lead was his caucus – his team the people who have to work with him day to day. Now a leader does not have to be liked but he needs to be respected and I suspect cunliffe does not have that respect

    11. By Kat on Apr 25, 2014 | Reply

      Haere rā Shane Jones………..

      Look forward to media updates on a few of the FOURTEEN National MP’s deserting the ship at the 2014 election.

    12. By Anne on Apr 25, 2014 | Reply

      To Kat

      They’re not deserting the ship. Most were given their marching orders. In other words they were sacked but the Tories know how to wrap it up in Xmas wrapping…

    13. By Kat on Apr 25, 2014 | Reply

      To Anne

      Fair comment, but a ‘few’ are deserting the sinking National ship!

    14. By Draco T Bastard on Apr 26, 2014 | Reply

      “Labour has been done no favours by Jones timing his departure at a point that can only feed that perception. ”

      I think the opposite. Labour couldn’t have been handed a better ‘upper” than Jones leaving now. Of course, Labour are still faced with the fact that they’re a neo-liberal party.

    15. By Draco T Bastard on Apr 26, 2014 | Reply

      “Now a leader does not have to be liked but he needs to be respected and I suspect cunliffe does not have that respect”

      And I suspect, Clairbear, that you’re an idiot. A good leader will do their best to get rid of the deadwood which, I suspect, Cunliffe did in this case.

    16. By Kat on Apr 26, 2014 | Reply

      Enter Kelvin Davis……. he should prove a positive replacement for Shane Jones.

    17. By Mike on Apr 28, 2014 | Reply

      Once I did kind of admire Jones for his stance on shady supermarket practices. But why was the National Party so keen to get him out of the picture that they had to bribe him with a specially created job and plenty of money? Jones sold out, pure and simple! and there is nothing noble about that. Funny how all the right who have rubbished him over the last two years now think he is a saint.

    18. By Robert M on Apr 28, 2014 | Reply

      There is an element of the Shane Jones world view that is true, that NZ’s future wealth depends on a degree of mineral,, oil, gas and fish exploitation. However Shane himself is neither a very serious figure or anyone with much support. To put it bluntly no one had heard of Shane Jones outside of narrow Maori, Business and Labor circles until he was revealed to have purchased hotel porno videos hundreds of time and charged them to the public purse. I have no objection to porno or Jones infidelity or affairs. LIfelong marriage is unlikely to bring happiness and is only succesfully achieved by great luck and usually wealth.
      Shane may well be a harvard boy with good degrees, but the latest outburst about supermarkets exploitation was nonsense largely. NZ and Auckland supermarkets are expensive and drive hard bargains with local small suppliers because the cost of supermarkets large staff and huge floorspace in high land price Auckland is high. The high cost of the spaggetti and lamb or snapper reflect that for charity and social reasons the supermarket is probably employing twice the staff they need to and often selecting for social reasons.
      Journalist seems to seem Shane Jones represenative of a certain male view and conservative working class view. In fact working class males have massively diverse views about women,porno, religion, drugs, booze etc and they rarely conform to those of journalists. Working class women would also have different and inconsistent views.

    19. By Jo Stafford on Apr 29, 2014 | Reply

      Seems the only self-serving person related to this article is the author!

    20. By Damo on May 1, 2014 | Reply

      A National man in a red shirt. A sheep in wolves clothing and an immodest man with much to be modest about. Good riddance, he would have been a major embarrasment to Labour at some stage in the future as he clearly has the morals of National Cabinet minister.

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