Plaudits for Shane Jones should be offset by his antics at Question Time

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones today has been rewarded with a positive mention in the Dominion-Post’s weekly “Below the Beltway” column, where a political scribe salutes some politicians in the “up” section and chide others in the “down” section.

Explaining why Jones merited a spot in the “up” section, the column says  –

“He’s on track for his target of one billion trees after Cabinet approved an extra $250 million for the scheme…”

At Point of Order we would have taken into account his playing the race card in an ignoble attempt to constrain the Nats from holding the Government to account at  Question Time.

But so far as we can find (admittedly in a quick Google check) the compiler of the column perhaps was unaware of Jones’ antics, because we could find no Stuff report on what transpired.

Stuff’s rivals at the New Zealand Herald, in contrast, reported the matter under the headline “Shane Jones takes exception to National’s references to ‘whānau links”.

According to political editor Audrey Young –

“New Zealand First Minister Shane Jones says Māori MPs are taking strong exception to National MP Chris Bishop drawing references to the whānau links between Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha and New Zealand First deputy Fletcher Tabuteau.

“Jones said National had essentially labelled Tabuteau and leader Winston Peters as ‘somehow not passing the test of parliamentary probity” and called on Speaker Trevor Mallard to do something about it.

“I’m not suggesting that Mr Bishop is anti-Māori and quite frankly I don’t care if he is,” said Jones.

“But it is an important principle with the number of Māori in the House whether they are urban Māori or broader traditional Māori, that you contemplate that situation because we are not going to put up with it for one day more.”

The background to this is that the process whereby Haumaha was elevated to the job of Deputy Police Commissioner is set to be reviewed by Mary Scholtens QC to determine whether the State Services Commission panel sought or passed on to the cabinet all the relevant information required when making the recommendation.

The review was ordered in the light of revelations of supportive comments he made about former friends who were accused in 2004 of the rape of Louise Nicholas, for which he has apologised.

As Young pointed out, National has also said Haumaha’s close links to New Zealand First MPs should have been declared to the cabinet before it decided.

Peters spoke at a marae celebration for Haumaha’s promotion last year to Assistant Commissioner (but says the police asked him) and Tabuteau mentioned Haumaha as whānau in his maiden statement.

Young noted that Tabuteau is a member of the executive as an under-secretary although not a member of the cabinet which signed off on the Deputy’s appointment in May.

Radio New Zealand was on the case, too.

It reported Jones’ objections under the headline “National questions ‘offensive’, says Shane Jones”.

According to this report:

Winston Peters and Shane Jones said it was offensive that National MP Chris Bishop continually alleges dodgy behaviour based on “whānau links” between Mr Haumaha and the party’s deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau.

Peters said it was “clear as daylight” National made no effort to back up the allegation.

“By innuendo they are saying, ‘That person’s a cousin,’ and in the Scottish or the clan sense there could be seven-to-10,000 people or more involved. But no they didn’t make that difference. They just say because of a relationship they’re acting in a corrupt way and that’s rotten. It stinks.”

National MPs, not surprisingly, have backed Bishop and reject the suggestion he was being racist.

Deputy leader Paula Bennett said National has a right to question Government members about potential conflicts of interest.

“As one of those Māori, there is actually also a convention that we express our conflicts of interest for our whānau, and particularly where we are looking to make statutory appointments.

“This side of the House has a right to question that.”

Gerry Brownlee, shadow leader of the House, said:

“The general allegation made against the Parliament by Mr Jones today, that it is somehow racially selective to bring up an issue that relates to the appointment of a person who is of New Zealannd Māori descent is a very, very backwards step for this Parliament.”

Readers can check the Hansard report here.

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