Jacinda Ardern backs Shane Jones over conflict of interest

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 10:53a.m.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says he has appropriately managed a conflict of interest over a tourism project that received $4.6m in Government funding.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Shane Jones could've managed a conflict of interest better.

The NZ First Minister is under fire for staying in a meeting, and reassuring ministers about a funding decision concerning a group he had a connection with.

The Prime Minister told Mike Hosking she's content Jones did nothing wrong.

"The Minister [Shane Jones] raised really early on with the Cabinet Office, he phoned them and said; 'look there's a project coming through the PGF where I know someone involved'...they gave him advice, said transfer it over to another Minister and don't receive the formal briefing, he did all of that."

"There was one meeting which discussed a range of PGF projects in which a question was asked about the project and he answered," she said.

"In hindsight, he acknowledges had he not been in the room it would have been cleaner cut, but he ultimately has done what he needed to do to manage the conflict."

Ardern said Shane Jones' conflict of interest was well documented.

"All Ministers in the room knew, officials knew, it was documented in the briefing papers that he had that conflict of interest."

Jones said he declared the conflict of interest in November 2017 and played no part in the Government's decision to grant up to $4.6m to the Manea Footprints of Kupe project.

But he took part in a meeting about Manea in February last year with four other Ministers and, according to one official at the meeting, gave reassurances about the project's viability in response to questions from Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Jones has pushed back on the official's description, saying he simply provided publicly available information.

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