The Shane Jones saga

Yesterday, ACT revealed that Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones played a key role in giving $4.6 million to an organisation he was associated with before becoming a NZ First MP and Minister. He then tried to cover his tracks by providing misleading answers to parliamentary questions asked by the Opposition.

What next?

Shane Jones’ behaviour is unacceptable for a Cabinet Minister. ACT Leader David Seymour has called on the Prime Minister to sack him. Mr Seymour has also written to the Auditor-General asking for an inquiry into Jones’ actions. ACT will be taking further steps this week in Parliament to hold Jones accountable for his actions.

Openness and transparency?

The Prime Minister has said that, based on the advice she’s received, she believes Jones’ conflict of interest was managed properly. If that’s the case, Ardern will have no problem releasing that advice. The Prime Minister has promised the most open and transparent government New Zealand’s history, but she is asking New Zealanders to take her at her word. That is not good enough.

Why the double standard?

Clare Curran was sacked by the Prime Minister for failing to disclose who she was meeting with in response to parliamentary questions asked by the Opposition. Shane Jones has done exactly the same, the only difference being that Curran’s meeting had no consequence whereas Jones was decisive in $4.6 million going to an organisation he’d previously been involved with.

Wall-to-wall coverage and more to come

The Jones saga has been covered by every by every major media outlet in the country and there’s more to come on this story. Stay tuned.

Leader of the Opposition

Kate Hawkesby writes in the Herald: David Seymour’s “bite and bark… is getting picked up, and it's generating headlines, attention and responses. No matter what you think of Seymour, he's putting spotlights on stuff which rightly or wrongly calls for accountability. Which is exactly what the leader of the opposition should be doing.” Free Press agrees. If you’d like to support ACT’s efforts to hold the Government to account, you can do so here.

Campaign update #1: Education

David Seymour hosted the largest and loudest public debate on the Government’s radical education reforms since they were proposed. About 400 Aucklanders heard from the authors of the proposed reforms and their critics. The proposals put in jeopardy each community’s ability to govern their local schools and people are rightly concerned. There are more public meetings organised, including one tonight, and you can find the details here. If you haven’t yet signed up to the Keep Our Schools Local campaign, you can do so here.

Campaign update #2: Capital gains tax

The Tax Working Group’s chair, Sir Michael Cullen, has had his contract extended. The man who once called successful New Zealanders "rich pricks" will continue to be paid $1062 a day to defend Labour’s capital gains tax. David Seymour has pointed out that this is really a vote of no confidence in Finance Minister Grant Robertson. It’s now up to the Government to respond to the TWG and publicly defend its plan for our tax system. It’s inappropriate for taxpayers to pay a former Labour Party Deputy Leader to defend Labour’s capital gains tax idea. This is yet another good reason to stand with ACT in fighting Labour’s envy tax. If you’re willing to sign up to our campaign, you can do so here.