There is no point in pretending that Jacinda can rein in Shane Jones. She should, of course, but she won’t. She should want to, as he is giving her government an even worse public perception than her own ministers, but there is still nothing that she can do. The only person that can rein in Jones is Winston Peters, and so far, he hasn’t done that.

Shane Jones has a stern word of warning for foreign-owned forestry companies looking to undermine him: “Political utu is a dish best served cold”.

He said the people who tried to undermine him would learn this lesson closer to the next election. 

Jones made the remarks after he was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister for trying to solicit votes for NZ First at the Northland Forestry Awards.

It was reported that Jones told attendees to vote for NZ First or risk missing out on Provincial Growth Fund money. 

See what I mean? He took his telling-off and effectively spat in her face. Jacinda tried to call him to heel, but Jones wasn’t having any of it.

It makes Jacinda look weak and Jones look arrogant. Exactly what he means by political utu I have no idea, but clearly, it is a threat of some kind.

Why is the Minister of Forestry threatening people in the business sector?

But now Jones is firing back. He wants the attendees to know he’s aware of who they are, and their relationship to the National Party. 

“They were playing a dangerous game,” Jones said.

“I know them. A handful work for international forestry companies,” he said. 

“It is wrong for overseas-owned forestry companies to have their staff briefing the media and using the same language as the National Party against me.”

Jones rubbished the leakers, saying that the rest of the people at the event had already reported their identities to him.

Good grief. Have we become the Republic of Zimbabwe? A New Zealand politician is now threatening people who complain about him – complaints that are actually justified in the scope in which his alleged cash-for-votes bribery was presented? Should they be afraid for their livelihoods… or worse?

How far we have fallen in two years. This is scandalous, but not unexpected. It is classic Jones. He does exactly as he pleases.

On Monday, Jones was publicly rebuked by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the remarks.

Ardern said she had spoken with Jones about the incident and they now “have a common understanding”. 

“Minister Jones is about to take a short break, a holiday over the recess, and we’ve agreed that he’ll take the Cabinet Manual with him,” Ardern said. 

The remarks reference the fact the incident was a possible breach of The Cabinet Manual, a set of rules for Government ministers.

Jones attended that function as the Minister for Forestry, not as a NZ First MP. The Cabinet Manual says politicians can’t electioneer on Ministerial time. 

I cannot imagine anyone flouting the rules like this in previous governments, and I don’t just mean the last one. Helen Clark would have sorted out this behaviour swiftly and ruthlessly. It makes the government look shady, and does nobody any favours. It won’t do Jones any favours either.

All it does is create another headache for Jacinda. Already branded as weak and as the Part-Time Prime Minister, it now shows that she has no authority over ministers of the crown. A Prime Minister is always supposed to be in charge of the government, but when you have a coalition where a minor party holds the balance of power, that control is mitigated. Jacinda has no control over either Green Party members or members of NZ First. She is a Prime Minister in name only.

Come to think of it, with David Parker threatening farmers with a higher water tax if they did not fall into line, she has no control over any of them.

But he [Jones] would not resile from his threats to the leakers.

“I’m not going to waste any ministerial time on them, but as we get to the next election, they will learn political utu is a dish best served cold.

“They’ve crossed the Rubicon,” he said. 


I think that Jones has lost all perspective. New Zealand politicians don’t behave like this. He may think he has support but most voters expect better from their leaders.

The bottom line is that he is NZ First and so he is untouchable as far as Jacinda is concerned. Winston can walk away and form a coalition with the National Party any time he wants to. If she wants to keep the coalition together she has to swallow a rat and act the indulgent but slightly disapproving mother to Jones’ very naughty little boy.


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