Shane Jones defends links to industry and diary omission

Resources Minister Shane Jones says accusations that he may be too close to industry executives are minor details and political games.

Jones is one of three ministers granted decision-making powers in the Fast-Track Approvals Bill, which is currently before select committee.

Newsroom last month revealed he had failed to disclose a dinner on the West Coast in February, at which he encouraged a mining company to write to National Party Minister Chris Bishop to seek inclusion in the fast-track regime.

Jones subsequently said the omission was a “cock-up” rather than a conspiracy, and he would update his diary.

On Thursday he confirmed progress had been made.

“Oh yes, work in progress,” he said. “I explained at the time, it’s a bit of a cock-up.”

He said some engagements did not need to be included, and it was “not necessarily” the case he was always a minister.

“Of course, it depends what pōtae I wear. A pōtae is a cap. Some caps are NZ First, some caps are ministerial.

“Some matters are not declared … in the diary because they represent the political connections between NZ First and the other governing parties.

“I do think that meetings that take place are not always ministerial, and conflicts of interest are important – however it can be catastrophised as well.”

Asked if he was too cosy with mining executives, he said he thought he talked to “as many people as possible”.

“I would have thought I was more cosy with the fishing people … I am a pro-industry champion. And I’m not too bothered by these political games of trivial pursuits, it’s a relatively minor detail. No New Zealander should doubt that I am the megaphone of industry in this government.

“I met with the leader of the mining industry this morning, and when I go to the rugby or go have a beer or go fishing I may bump into people who have a connection with mining. And that’s not going to change.”

He said the comment about trivial pursuits was not about conflicts of interest, and when questioned on whether it could undermine trust in the the fast-track regime, said he was waiting for the select committee to report back before making comment.

“That dinner, as I’ve talked about, it was less a conspiracy, just a cock-up, it’s all been tidied up now.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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