web analytics

NRT: The Jones appointment

Written By: - Date published: 11:53 am, June 24th, 2014 - 45 comments
Categories: corruption, public services, Shane Jones - Tags:

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

Back in April, Shane Jones announced that he would be quitting Parliament to take up a position as a “Pacific Economic Ambassador”, which the Herald noted had been “created by the National Government especially for him”. Like many people I was curious about this, so I filed an OIA request seeking information on the role and the appointments process. That OIA was filed on 28 April. Last night – after a mere 41 working days – I received the response. The full documents are up on DocumentCloud here (if that doesn’t work, someone also requested it through FYI. We all got the same response).

Some key observations:

  • The position was dreamed up by McCully. On January 28, Billie Moore – apparently his press secretary – sent an email to senior MFAT staff relaying the Minister’s views on the need for an ambassador to “move the region forward” on fisheries issues. The Minister was “keen for feedback from the Ministry on how you see this issue”, but clearly didn’t like what he heard: all immediate response was redacted as “free and frank advice”, while the Ministry’s promised “considered view” was not included in the release.
  • The job was created especially for Jones. On March 3 Moore tells MFAT CEO John Allen that “the Government has decided to appoint an Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development”. Allen’s response is “I am seeing Shane tomorrow evening. I will let you know how I get on”.
  • There was no job description until May. You would expect a formal role whose creation had been discussed with the Ministry to have produced one during the advice process. Instead MFAT staff were scrambling to produce one in the days after Jones left Parliament.
  • There is no information whatsoever on the appointment process: no mention of other candidates, interviews, or shortlists. It appears that McCully simply decided, King Dick style, that Jones should be employed, and so it happened. As previously noted, this is a total violation of public service values, and an unlawful exercise of Ministerial power.
  • There is a stunning lack of formal advice. No briefings. No policy development docs about the need for the position. No Cabinet papers (and there should be one for an appointment at this level). No salary information. No formal advice to the G-G to make the appointment. Not even an appointment letter. Clearly some of this material must exist – the government is incapable of functioning without it – but for some reason it has been withheld. Given how ordinary such documents usually are, either it shows how blatantly political and corrupt this appointment was, or it is another example of McCully’s obsessive secrecy.

When I first heard of this appointment, I commented that if McCully had offered Jones a briefcase full of cash rather than a specially-created high-paying job to resign, we’d call it what it is: Corruption and bribery of member of Parliament. From what I’ve seen in this release, I stand by that.


Updated: The Jones appointment II

In my earlier post on the Jones appointment, I noted the lack of any formal advice. There were no briefings, no policy development documents, no cabinet papers, no advice to the Governor-General to make the appointment, not even a formal appointment letter. This was surprising, so I queried it, asking for a list of those documents that had been withheld. The response:

no documents, of the type you specified (formal briefings, cabinet papers or appointment letters), were withheld.

A further query confirmed this, and also elicited this:

Head of Mission/Post roles are not considered by Cabinet or APH.

This is utterly unbelievable. The Cabinet Manual requires that “all but the most minor public appointments” must be submitted to Cabinet. The detailed guidance on this makes it clear that all appointments made “by the Governor-General on the advice of a Minister, or by the Governor-General in Executive Council” (such as the appointment of a head of mission / post ambassadorial role) must go to Cabinet and the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) (it also has a helpful outline of the appointments process which McCully has completely ignored). So what am I to conclude? There seem to be three options:

  • McCully’s SPS is lying to me about the documents that exist and the process followed (unlikely);
  • McCully violated the Cabinet Manual by not consulting his Cabinet colleagues on a senior appointment. But even then the Minister should have signed an appointment letter; or
  • Jones’ position isn’t a head of mission / post and did not need Cabinet approval, and McCully ordered MFAT to employ him in violation of the State Sector Act.

At this stage, I think its time for some real journalists to start asking some questions to get to the bottom of this.Update: added note about the existence of an appointment letter for option 2.

45 comments on “NRT: The Jones appointment ”

  1. blue leopard 1

    Very informative, thank you NRT (and for reposting it here)

  2. karol 2

    Yep. This is a very important DOCUMENTED criticism of the government and it’s apparent corruption.

  3. fisiani 3

    Are you claiming that Shane Jones was not an ideal candidate for the post? He was after all the most likely candidate to topple John Key.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1


      Another fire-and-forget comment from a recidivist tr*ll.

      • NickS 3.1.1

        It’s like he’s got the tr*ll version of whiskey dick.

        And still waiting, fisiani, admitting you stuffed up can’t be that hard right?

    • karol 3.2

      Who else was a candidate? Who else would have been as good or better as a candidate?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1

        Why was the department even looking for a candidate in the first place – oh, that’s right: they weren’t, and now Fisiani has diverted the discussion onto something that never happened.

    • Molly 3.3

      I’m beginning to suspect that you may be using a programme such as Dragon to make comments.

      The continual disconnect between reading posts and comments and your replies seems to indicate basic literacy skills are missing…

    • Lanthanide 3.4

      IMO this is enough for fisi to be banned until after the election. All he ever does is troll and divert from the topic at hand.

    • NickS 3.5


      Because there’s so not anything dodgy about how this was set up as documented above, but I guess ethics is optional when it comes to anything National does right?

      And still waiting: http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-21062014/#comment-835915

    • appleboy 3.6

      That Shane Jones was a contender to topple Key is pure national spin. Jonesz was never in a million years going to be leader. Dream on pisseearnie

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.6.1

        Leader on NZ First maybe ?

        That is rumour that has more traction, only once Winston retires off course

      • Skinny 3.6.2

        Jones is far too lazy for that, he is happy living the life gifted to him by National. A buy out sell out case scenario!

    • Skinny 3.7

      As you well know the point is a job plucked out of the air with no process whatsoever. If you could give me another example of a leading opposition MP being gifted a job created by the then Government?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.8

      No you moron, it’s quite clearly stated that the creation of the position itself and Jones’ appointment to it was corrupt.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    Time to make the Ombudsman and Auditor General employees of the Serious Fraud Office, or issue them with police powers.

    The Tory response to all official oversight is to defund the inspectors a la Pike River. Retrospective legislation with no statute of limitation is required.

  5. Tom Gould 5

    But wasn’t it Key who ordered the drop of Jones’ credit card details which just happened to contain the adult movies charges that destroyed his political future? Maybe it’s just Murray’s way of saying sorry?

  6. Kiwiri 6

    And in this morning’s paper, a reader could be left wondering if an ex-Labour contender for leadership is now promoting National government’s Pacific fisheries policy, with about 13 weeks to go until Polling Day:


  7. fender 7

    This all makes Jones look a bit like a gelding really…

  8. thecard 8

    I thought you guys hated Jones and was glad he was gone ?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      I thought all you guys would be keen to avoid the impression that Hodson & Busseri are on to something, and yet here you are, clearly unable to understand the subject of this post.

      • thecard 8.1.1

        Strange then how conservatives come out on top so often isn’t it ?

        • Colonial Viper

          clear focus, simple goals, strong networks, professionally provided strategy, money, media, patience.

          It’s a very powerful mix for the right wing.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Not really. Kanai and H & B provide ample evidence that you have a large body of ready-made voters. Piff et al outline the lack of ethical hurdles you face to justify your strategy.

  9. And a followup:


    This document-trail (or rather the lack of one) stinks.

  10. Lez Howard 10

    If this was a purely political stunt, then Jones can be made redundant at the whim of Key. This guy has no concience Jones may end up as a big sucker

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      Something for the new government to attend to in the first one hundred minutes.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1.1

        “Dear Mr. Jones,

        We have uncovered what seems to be evidence of Murray McCully’s personal responsibility corruption in your appointment process. As your employer, we feel obliged to inform you that this evidence will be forwarded to the Police. To give you time to consult with your lawyers, we are relieving you of your duties as of yesterday.

        Please accept our sincere contempt etc etc.”

  11. ghostwhowalksnz 11

    Wasnt Jones appointed to an actual diplomatic post- one of those nominal ones where he doesnt have to live in country.

    Radio Live 29 may.

    Its an actual diplomatic appointment, which the government can do with politicians, but as you say there must be some paper trail.

    Id guess they are playing games with you, so go back and ask about HC appointments to Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia etc

    • yeshe 11.1

      and Rawdon Christie on Breakfast a couple of mornings ago called him ‘Your Excellency’ — lost my coffee up my nose I did !

  12. Crunchtime 12

    The Jones DISappointment.

    TBH tho I’m fed up with talk about how the Nats, Shane Jones etc are breaking the rules. This will not win votes, and leaves Labour open to criticism (accurate or otherwise) for being “hypocritical”.

    Labour need to stop harping on about how bad the govt is and start telling their own story.

  13. Akldnut 13

    “I think its time for some real journalists to start asking some questions to get to the bottom of this.”

    What…….here in NZ?
    pfft everything was sounding really good until you put that in and made it into a comedy post.

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    Are there any laws that have been broken? The missing documentation would tend to indicate that there are.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1

      High time the Auditor General became an employee of the Serious Fraud Office.

  15. Adrian 15

    Yeah well I’m one of those naïve people who assumed, when the Jones appointment story broke, that the coverage would be all about what a bunch of shits the Nats were. But of course not, it was all about how bad it was for Labour

  16. tc 16

    Seems to have taken the oxygen away from the supermarket chain practices shane raised and into one the nats can control better i.e. their use of process and power.

    They will take the hit whilst those funds for the GE progress some more knowing that if required Jones can be relied on to do as told such as have a pop at his former colleagues.

    All on the taxpayers dime, nice.

  17. Tracey 17

    Fran O’S made a comment about this in her weekend piece, referring to john key’s boast in the usa about having got rid of jones. Joke or not?

  18. Populuxe1 18

    So why wasn’t Bolger’s appointment to head Kiwibank some terrible conspiracy then? The rational was identical INHO, so why not kick up a stink about that one?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Put our most vulnerable first
    Don’t forget whānau and communities most at risk, says the Green Party, as the Government lays out its three-phase plan for Omicron. ...
    1 day ago
  • Boosting our immunity against Omicron
    With Omicron in the community, it’s vital we all do our bit to help to slow the spread, keep each other safe and protect our health system. One of the most important ways we can reduce the risk of Omicron is to get a booster dose as soon as we’re ...
    2 days ago
  • Equitable response to Omicron vital
    The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable. ...
    5 days ago
  • How we’re preparing for Omicron
    As countries around the world experience Omicron outbreaks, we’re taking steps now to ensure we’re as prepared as possible and our communities are protected. ...
    1 week ago
  • What’s Labour achieved so far?
    Quite a bit! This Government was elected to take on the toughest issues facing Aotearoa – and that’s what we’re doing. Since the start of the pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods has been a priority, but we’ve also made progress on long-term challenges, to deliver a future the next generation ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tackling the big issues in 2022
    This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Penguin rehab and native forest restoration get helping hand
    A long-running penguin rehab facility which has been hard hit by the tourism downturn, and work to restore native forest habitats in the Catlins are being supported through Jobs for Nature funding, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. Otago’s Penguin Place and The Hokonui Rūnanga Catlins Biodiversity Project will receive combined ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Resilient economy reflected in Crown accounts
    The Government’s financial accounts continue to reflect a resilient economy that has performed better than expected and puts the country in a strong position to respond to Omicron, Grant Robertson said. The Crown Accounts for the five months to the end of November were more favourable than forecast in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Government announces three phase public health response to Omicron
    Reducing isolation period for cases and close contacts at Phase Two and Three to 10 and seven days Definition of close contact required to isolate changes to household or household like contacts at Phase Three Increased use of rapid antigen tests with test to return policy put in place for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Ambassador to Thailand announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Jonathan Kings as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Thailand. “Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with Thailand, celebrating the 65th anniversary of diplomatic representation between our countries in 2021. We also share much in common at regional and multilateral levels ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government’s Family Package continues to deliver for New Zealanders
    The Families Package helped around 330,000 families in its first year - more than half of all families with children in NZ These families received an estimated $55 per week more from Families Package payments in 2018/19 than in 2017/18, on average Families Package increases to the maximum possible Accommodation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand retains top spot in global anti-corruption rankings
    Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has welcomed news of New Zealand’s ongoing position as top in the world anti-corruption rankings. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index released by global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, ranks New Zealand first equal with Denmark and Finland, with a score of 88 out of 100. “This is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Testing improvements see New Zealand well prepared for Omicron
    New Zealand’s PCR testing capacity can be increased by nearly 20,000 tests per day to deal with a surge in cases as part of our wider COVID-19 testing strategy, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We have continued to adapt our public health response to safeguard the health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 5,000 portable air cleaners for schools on their way
    As schools are preparing to return, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 5,000 air cleaners have been ordered for New Zealand schools. “As we know, along with vaccination, testing, good hygiene and physical distancing, good ventilation is important in minimising the risk of airborne transmission of the virus that causes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today
    All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm today as Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region are now confirmed as Omicron, and a further ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mandatory boosters for key workforces progressing well
    More than 5,785 (82%) border workers eligible for a booster vaccination at 6 months have received it so far, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “That’s a really strong uptake considering we announced the requirement the week before Christmas, but we need to continue this momentum,” Chris Hipkins said. “We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ to move to Red
    Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late yesterday. These cases are in a single family that flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide further help for Tonga
    Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million. “This support will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work
    The Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work is reflected in benefit figures released today which show a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said. “Our response to COVID has helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Northland to move to Orange, NZ prepared for Omicron 
    Northland to move to Orange Rest of New Zealand stays at Orange in preparedness for Omicron All of New Zealand to move into Red in the event of Omicron community outbreak – no use of lockdowns Govt planning well advanced – new case management, close contact definition and testing rules ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu
    A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga
    New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga
    The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says. “Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta. New Zealand has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Record high of new homes consented continues
    In the year ended November 2021, 48,522 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the November 2020 year. In November 2021, 4,688 new dwellings were consented. Auckland’s new homes consented numbers rose 25 per cent in the last year. Annual figures for the last nine months show more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports
    Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Honouring the legacy of legendary kaumātua Muriwai Ihakara
    Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Kiri Allan expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara. “Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Have your say on proposed changes to make drinking water safer
    Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer. “The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said. “This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Planting the seeds for rewarding careers
    A boost in funding for a number of Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury will provide sustainable employment opportunities for more than 70 people, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The six projects are diverse, ranging from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago