Shane Jones

Shane Geoffrey Jones (born 3 September 1959) is a New Zealand politician. He served as a New Zealand First list MP from 2017 to 2020. Jones was previously a Labour MP from 2005 to 2014.

Shane Jones
Jones in April 2018
3rd Minister for Infrastructure
In office
26 October 2017  6 November 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Preceded bySteven Joyce
Succeeded byGrant Robertson
31st Minister for Forestry
In office
26 October 2017  6 November 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Preceded byVacant (last held by David Carter)
Succeeded byStuart Nash
1st Minister for Regional Economic Development
In office
26 October 2017  6 November 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Succeeded byStuart Nash
Minister for Building and Construction
In office
31 October 2007  19 November 2008
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byClayton Cosgrove
Succeeded byMaurice Williamson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for New Zealand First list
In office
23 September 2017  17 October 2020
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party list
In office
Succeeded byKelvin Davis
Personal details
Born (1959-09-03) 3 September 1959 (age 61)
Awanui, New Zealand
Political partyNZ First (2017–present)
Labour (2005–2017)
  • Ngareta Jones[1]
  • Dorothy Pumipi[2]
Alma mater

Jones was a cabinet minister in the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand. He contested the leadership of the Labour Party in a 2013 leadership election but lost to rival David Cunliffe.[3][4] He left parliament at the end of May 2014.[5]

Jones was the New Zealand First candidate for Whangarei in the 2017 general election; he was ranked eighth on the New Zealand First party list and returned to parliament following the election on 23 September 2017. In October 2017, Jones was appointed as a minister in the New Zealand First–Labour coalition government, holding the portfolios of Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development.

In October 2020, Jones contested the Northland electorate but was defeated. His party NZ First also lost their seats in Parliament, falling below the five percent parliamentary threshold.[6]

Early life

Jones is Māori, of Te Aupōuri and Ngāi Takoto descent, as well as having English, Welsh and Croatian ancestry.[7][8] He has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), and was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to study at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[9]

Political career

Labour Party

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
20052008 48th List 27 Labour
20082011 49th List 16 Labour
20112014 50th List 16 Labour
20172020 52nd List 8 NZ First

He stood in the 2005 election for the Labour Party, being ranked twenty-seventh on its party list. This was the highest position given by Labour to someone who was not already a member of parliament. He took his seat in the new parliament after the Labour Party won 50 seats in New Zealand's 120 seat parliament. Jones held a number of senior roles in the public sector, being best known for his work as chairman of the Waitangi Fisheries Commission. He worked for the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. After his entry into parliament, after 2005 election, Jones became chair of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. He had often been speculated by the media and among his colleagues as a future leader of the Labour Party.[8]

Jones in 2007

In the cabinet re-shuffle on 31 October 2007, Jones was made a cabinet minister with the portfolios of Building and Construction, and was made an associate minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Immigration and Trade. He scrapped a government proposal requiring new buildings to have low flow showers heads, prior to the 2008 general election.[10] Labour was defeated at the election and Jones contested the Northland electorate unsuccessfully, but was returned to parliament as a list member due to his high list placing of 16.[11]

Expense controversy

On 10 June 2010 after the release of ministerial credit card records, Jones admitted to having used a Crown credit card for personal expenditure, but assured the public that he had reimbursed the Crown in full for the expenditure. Later that day Jones admitted that he had used the card to hire pornographic films at hotels while on ministerial business.[12] The credit card record showed that he chartered an executive jet for $1200, which he claimed was due to bad weather which forced a change in his schedule.[13]

On 14 June 2010, opposition leader Phil Goff demoted Jones along with two other Labour MPs for misuse of ministerial credit cards. Jones was removed from the parliamentary front bench and stripped of the shadow portfolios of Environment and Economic Development.[14]

Yan controversy

In 2008, when Jones was Minister of Immigration, he approved the citizenship application of Chinese businessman William Yan. Yan was charged with making false declarations on immigration documents. On 23 May 2012, Jones stood down from the front bench and his shadow portfolios while an investigation took place. Labour Party leader David Shearer asked the Auditor-General to investigate Jones' handling of the citizenship application. Jones had acted against officials' advice that he should decline the application because of questions about Yan's multiple identities and a warrant for his arrest in China. Jones defended his decision, saying it was based on humanitarian grounds because a high-level Government official had told him that Yan faced execution if he returned to China. Shearer said Jones supported the decision to refer the matter to the Auditor-General because Jones must be given a chance to clear his name.[15]

Shearer said he believed Jones had followed proper processes, but the differing statements made inside and outside of court, and the questions raised publicly had prompted him to refer it to an independent agency. Shearer said: "New Zealanders must be able to have confidence in the processes of government and that is why Labour believes it is important for the Auditor-General to provide reassurance that the appropriate action was taken in this case."[16]

On 24 May 2012, Yan was found not guilty on all the immigration charges.[17] On 30 May, it was announced that the Auditor General would conduct a formal investigation into the matter.[18]

Retirement from parliament

On 22 April 2014, Jones announced his intention to step down as a Labour Party MP, leaving at the end of May. TV3 reported he would be taking on the newly created role of Pacific Economic Ambassador.[5]

Re-entering politics

Shane Jones (Economic Development Minister) at an event at Victoria University of Wellington in 2018

On 30 June 2017, after months of speculation, Jones was confirmed as the New Zealand First candidate for Whangarei for the 2017 general election.[19] Jones was also placed eighth on the party list for New Zealand First, above some of the members of the New Zealand First caucus of the Parliament at the time, increasing his chances of re-entering Parliament.[20] New Zealand online magazine, The Spinoff hosted a live debate on Facebook, among seven of the 2017 election's candidates that the magazine found "most exciting", including Jones, representing New Zealand First.[21]

During the 2017 election, Jones contested Whangarei, coming third place (7,651) behind National candidate Shane Reti (18,734) and Labour candidate Tony Savage (7,767).[22] He was elected to Parliament on the New Zealand First list.[23]

Coalition government

Following the 2017 election, Jones was appointed Minister for Infrastructure, Minister of Forestry and Minister for Regional Economic Development following the formation of a coalition government consisting of the Labour Party, New Zealand First, and the Green Party.[24]

On 25 September 2019, Jones and Labour MP Kieran McAnulty were ejected from Parliament by the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard after trading barbs with National MPs during a parliamentary debate about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's meeting with US President Donald Trump.[25]

In mid-October 2019, Jones drew media attention when he was photographed using an AR-15 style rifle while on holiday. The AR-15 rifle was among the semi-automatic weapons banned by New Zealand Government's Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019 following the Christchurch mosque shootings.[26][27]

After feeling light-headed Jones was admitted to hospital on 11 December 2019 as a precaution after suffering from exhaustion.[28]

Provincial Growth Fund

As Minister for Regional Economic Development Jones was responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund and announced a number of grants for the development of various regions, e.g. for Southland, the West Coast and the Wairarapa.[29][30][31] The first grants in February 2018 included $6 million for the Whanganui rail line, $5 million for the Napier-Wairoa rail line and $2.3 million for the Gisborne port.[32]

In late October 2019, Jones announced that the Government would be investing NZ$20 million in revitalising Hillside Engineering in South Dunedin as a major heavy engineering and KiwiRail servicing hub.[33][34][35]

On 21 January 2020, the opposition National Party called for an investigation into Jones' involvement in the bid by NZ Future Forrest Products Limited for NZ$15 million of Provincial Growth Fund funding. NZ Future Forrest Products has links to New Zealand First.[36][37]

2019–2020 Remarks about Indian migrants

In late October 2019, Shane Jones drew criticism when he made alleged racist remarks in response to members of the Indian New Zealand community's criticism of Immigration New Zealand's recent decision to tighten partnership visas for those on arranged marriages.[38] Jones had said:

"I would just say to the activists from the Indian community, tame down your rhetoric, you have no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home – catch the next flight home."[39]

Jones' comments were condemned by the Waitakere Indian Association, who called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa to demand a public apology from Jones and to address the Indian community's concerns.[40][41]

On 3 November 2019, members of the Migrant Workers Association and Love Aotearoa Hate Racism held a rally in Auckland's Aotea Square to protest Jones' remarks.[42] Jones' remarks were also condemned by the broadcaster Patrick Gower, who described Jones as a "gutless wonder."[43] Prime Minister Ardern, Trade Minister Damien O'Connor, and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway have disavowed Jones' remarks as not representative of the New Zealand Government.[44][45] On 5 November 2019, Jones described the community response as a "Bollywood reaction and claimed that he was speaking for New Zealanders who were anxious about immigration.[45] On 6 November 2019, the Government reversed the partnership visa decision, restoring the exception for non-resident Indian marriages.[46]

On 29 February 2020, Jones made remarks on Newshub's "Nation" current affairs programme claiming that immigration was placing "enormous stress" on the country's social and economic infrastructure. He also claimed that the large number of international students from India had ruined New Zealand tertiary institutions.[47] Jones' remarks were criticised by Prime Minister Ardern, the Waitakere Indian Association, National Party leader Simon Bridges, Green Party co-leader James Shaw, and Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway.[48][49] The Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon also condemned them as "racist, ignorant and harmful." Jones has defended his comments, claiming that members of the Indian community were exploiting their own people.[50]

"Redneck remarks", November 2019

On 14 November 2019, Jones drew media and public attention when he described several protesting farmers outside Parliament as "rednecks."[51] This march by protesting farmers had been organised by the farming lobby group 50 Shades of Green, who were protesting the Government's "blanket forestry" policy. Jones' remarks were criticised by his parliamentary colleagues Climate Change Minister James Shaw, the National Party's agricultural spokesperson Todd Muller, and Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard. Shaw likened Jones' remarks to "putting out fire with gasoline" while Muller described Jones as a bully who had shown "remarkable disrespect to hundreds of farmers who travelled a long way to have their say." Hoggard described Jones' comments as unhelpful and alleged that the Government was ignoring the agricultural sector's concerns. By contrast, Labour politician Willie Jackson defended Jones' remarks, claiming that the farmers were out of line.[52][53]

Remarks about climate-change activists, January 2020

On 20 January 2020, Jones attracted media attention when he criticised climate change activists for advocating reduced meat consumption, comparing their campaigns to "eco bible-bashing." Jones also likened climate change activists to "medieval torture chamber workers" hellbent on "preaching this gospel of absolutism". He made these remarks in response to the Government's recent announcement that they would be introducing climate change education in schools.[54][55]

2020 New Zealand general election

During the 2020 New Zealand general election that was held on 17 October, Jones contested the Northland electorate seat. He was defeated, coming third place with 5,119 votes behind Labour's Willow-Jean Prime (17,066) and National's Matt King (16,903).[56][6] New Zealand First also lost all its parliamentary seats, gaining only 2.6% percent of the party vote, below the five percent threshold needed to enter Parliament.[57]


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  32. "Shane Jones doles out millions to Northland, Hawkes Bay and (to) rail regeneration". Stuff (Fairfax). 23 February 2018.
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