Felix Marwick: Shane Jones set to return to politics

Author
Felix Marwick,
Publish Date
Fri, 30 Jun 2017, 5:42AM
Shane Jones, while gregarious and a good communicator, is possibly one of the more flawed politicians Parliament has seen in recent history. (Photo \ Getty Images)
Shane Jones, while gregarious and a good communicator, is possibly one of the more flawed politicians Parliament has seen in recent history. (Photo \ Getty Images)

Felix Marwick: Shane Jones set to return to politics

Author
Felix Marwick,
Publish Date
Fri, 30 Jun 2017, 5:42AM

It would seem Parliament's prodigal son, Shane Jones, is about to return to the fold.

Mr Jones, a former Labour MP before being snaffled by the Government as an Economic Development Ambassador for the Pacific, is expected to be named as New Zealand First's candidate for the seat of Whangarei today.

So after over a year of nods, sly winks, evasions, and general stringing along, one of the worst kept secrets in politics is about to be outed once and for all.

At one level the move seems a good one. Shane Jones, like his friend, and New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, is a son of the north. His roots and connections there are deep and strong, albeit not so much in Whangarei itself. It's logical that New Zealand First, after its 2015 success in the Northland by-electionand its continued push for soft National Party vote in the regions, sees Whangarei and Jones as a card worth playing.

That's all well and good up to a point.

But it has to be said that Shane Jones, while gregarious and a good communicator, is possibly one of the more flawed politicians Parliament has seen in recent history. His record in the nine years he was with Labour was certainly chequered. He entered in controversy, accused of double dipping by serving as an MP while still acting for the Waitangi Fisheries Commission.

And things didn't exactly improve from there. Add into the mix his nickname as Minister for Porn over his misuse of a ministerial credit card, and his approval of citizenship for now convicted money launderer Bill Liu, and you can see Mr Jones has had more than his fair share of bad news and scandal. These are all things his political opponents will use against him.

There are other questions about his capability too. He failed to take Tamaki Makaurau off the Maori Party in 2011 and even admitted in his 2014 valedictory speech that he wasn't a fan of door knocking. At the time he said he was a big picture man.

Well, there'll be no place for big picture in Whangarei, but a whole lot of need for door-knocking if Shane Jones is to take the seat.

Finally, it's not altogether certain Shane Jones will be welcomed with open arms into the party. He's being tipped as being the successor to Winston Peters, something that's probably not sitting too well with others who've had the eyes on the same prize.

Shane Jones may have roots in the north, but his ones in New Zealand First are shallow and there are a number of rivals that will be itching to weed him out.

Felix Marwick
Chief Political Reporter
Newstalk ZB
Parliament