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Departing Labour MP Shane Jones says the Green Party’s ideas are too anti-industry.
“If that’s the way that they want the future of the country to go, then that’s someone else’s problem, I’ve had enough of it," he told TV3's The Nation.
He added that Labour needs to convince the NZ public that “our waka, not with a Green implant, but our waka as a Labour waka deserves their support”.
Mr Jones denied he had been "castrated" by National, which has offered him a Pacific Economic Ambassador role.
"I’ve got to take ownership of my own decision. And the sooner that the focus goes back on people that are going to carry the kaupapa of Labour forward, the better. I’ve made a personal decision that I didn’t want to be part of that team anymore, in terms of being a parliamentarian and they deserve a level of commitment that I can’t give," he said.
Kelvin Davis, who is set to replace Mr Jones on Labour's list, said the departing MP wasn't exempt from his criticism about the lack of action from the Maori MPs in Parliament
Mr Davis, who is also standing against Mana leader Hone Harawira in the Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) Maori seat, said, there needs to be “massive injection in investment in Te Tai Tokerau to lift us out of the doom and gloom that’s up there”.
RAW DATA: The Nation transcript: Lisa Owen talks to Shane Jones and Kelvin Davis
Lisa Owen: First I’d like to come to you Mr Jones. Kia Ora. Have you just let National castrate you?
Shane Jones: No, I’ve got to take ownership of my own decision. And the sooner that the focus goes back on people that are going to carry the kaupapa of Labour forward, the better. I’ve made a personal decision that I didn’t want to be part of that team anymore, in terms of being a parliamentarian and they deserve a level of commitment that I can’t give.
So you haven’t been neutralised as such?
Well all sorts of people have tried to sort of neuter me, but look whether or not this position comes to pass, if it does ka pai, if it doesn’t I can assure you I have already been approached to do a host of other things.
But haven’t you done enormous damage to your team, you have lobbed a grenade and then wandered off haven’t you?
No, by the end of April I had to make a decision whether I was going to go on the list. I always had Easter as time of reflection for me personally, in the way I was brought up, to make that call. Sure the information got out before I was comfortable with it getting out etc, but it was always my intention to share that information with my caucus members in early May. But the first person I rung after Easter was the president of the party and I had reflected to the president of the party that I was going through a deep period of uncertainty.
In saying that though, isn’t the reality: you say it’s a personal decision, but isn’t the reality that you couldn’t stand the prospect of another term on the opposition benches, that you expected that. So how are voters supposed to interpret that any other way than that?
No , well I think under MMP anything is possible. But I had to ask myself did I have the strength both to fight the selection campaign and more at Coatsworth, and DC David Cunliffe, they should expected me a thousand percent commitment. And I just said ‘look I’m not up to it’.
So if you say anything is possible under MMP, what are Labour’s chances? Give me the odds out of say 100, 50-50 of being in government?
Ah no, I’ll continue to answer the question in this way. We need to put the Labour kaupapa before the New Zealand public and convince them that our waka, not with a Green implant, but our waka as a Labour waka deserves their support. And everyone needs to go forward and do that. And as I’ve said to David Parker, at least he can count on one vote and that’s my vote.
So I just want to be clear on this then, you can’t give me a percentage, so obviously a hundred percent doesn’t spring into your head?
[Laughs] No look, the ramblings of a departing MP, that’s not fair on my team. They know what needs to be done. There’s a very active volunteer and support base, and I don’t want to say anything that disses my relation here with Kelvin or my leader Mr Cunliffe, they can get on with it.
But you have bagged the Greens and you’ve bagged your Greens on the way out, so honestly tell me how do you think Labour can be in government without the Greens?
Well to the extent I was ever a problem for working with the Greens, that problem has gone now. And I have no doubt in my mind that the activists in the party and the other volunteer base I’m sure they can see a way forward to stitch a government together. But the first thing that always has to happen, try again\
So they’re going to need the Greens?
Look, in MMP I’m not saying it’ll be the Greens, I’m not saying it’ll be Winston. I’ve always said the kaupapa of the Labour Party needs to be foremost and it needs to be prioritised.
But if not the Greens, who could it possibly be to get the numbers to get it across the line?
Well look I won’t be there. I won’t be there and it’s up to the voters to determine in what percentages they want parliamentarians back, in terms of their political affiliations.
So when you were talking about the Greens, what so worries you about the Greens? What they might do, what is the bogey in the room?
Look I think there is maybe three to five percent of the New Zealand workforce working their butts off in forestry, in fishing, in mining etc. And there’s a whole host of other people in New Zealand who desperately require the revenue associated that with dairy, and I’ve got dramas with dairy as well. But I just thought that the kaupapa that the Greens are bringing forward, I always felt, it was too anti-industry. And I’m just not going to fight that fight anymore. If that’s the way that they want the future of the country to go, then that’s someone else’s problem, I’ve had enough of it.
So how’s that going to work if they are anti-industry?
Well that’s up to the voters. It’s up to the voters. I’ve never ever hid. I’ve never said anything disloyal about my senior colleagues or about David Cunliffe. But I’ve got every right to reflect what I think is a problem with New Zealand politics, if we don’t challenge some of the orthodoxy that comes out of the Green merchants.
You say you never said anything about your seniors in the party but you seem to be indicating this week that Labour is listing to the left and that’s not a great thing?
No, I mean where the waka finally ends up in September, it’s got nothing to do with me anymore. And look I just. That’s why I’m keen for Kelvin to have a go and I support Mr Parker and Mr Cunliffe in steering that waka forward. It’s no longer my role.
Ok but given the concerns that you have about potential coalition partners, answer this for me if you could: Labour-Greens government, is that better for your constituency than a National government?
I’m a member of the Labour Party. The party that I belong to is a party of New Zealanders. It’s a centralist party in my view. But my views are now irrelevant. So that question you need to direct in future to the voters of New Zealand. And that’s about all I got to say.
But people this year could potentially (bring) in a Labour-Greens government. Is that better than a National government?
Yeah of course a Labour government is what motivated me to get into politics. I got involved in the Labour in the Springbok tour.
Even if they have to do it with the Greens?
Well that’s up, to who knows who it’ll be with etc. That’s why I have always felt in order for Labour to be the tuakana, the senior partner, put a four in front of your name, not a three. And certainly not a two.
Well you have said in the leadership campaign that you have to raise level of support Labour has by about ten percent. So how is that going to happen when even you are walking away from this party?
Well at the end of the day it’s not a decision that we parliamentarians can order electors to make. Got to go out there, put the credentials forward etc, in front of the voters, and look just live with the voters’ decision.
Well this is a good chance to bring in Kelvin Davis here who’s stepping into your shoes. How much damage has your mate Shane Jones done to your party?
Kelvin Davis: Look Shane has made his decision and he’s moving on and I’m really grateful to him for what he has done in moving on when he knows he can’t give a thousand percent to the party. And I think that is actually a positive. It’s allowing me time to get into Parliament, to get back on the ground and to present myself as a viable alternative. Now a lot of people are saying, how can I fill Shane’s shoes, he’s got big shoes to fill. And in 2008 I was hearing Dover’s got a big hat to fill, Parekura is sharing singlet and I’ve got to fill that role. I’m not Shane, I’m not Parekura, I’m not Dover, I’m myself and I’ve got to go forward with the things that I’m passionate about.
Well in saying that Labour needs to win the Maori electorates and I’m wondering how you’re going to sell that in your electorate when you’ve got a man here, one of your party’s most high profile Maori MPs, is walking? How do you get that message across to your electorate?
Look I’ve come out and said I’ve got four main priorities: Maori education which is no surprise to anybody, developing Te Tai Tokerau there needs to be a massive cash injection, a massive injection in investment in Te Tai Tokerau to lift us out of the doom and gloom that’s up there. Te Reo Maori is another thing I’m very passionate about and also I want the man in Parliament that is going to address the physical abuse, the sexual abuse of women and children. That’s something I am really passionate about. Now it’s totally different to what Shane has been in Parliament driving. And those are the things I’m really passionate about. And to tell you about that, the Roastbusters scandal when that kicked off I was outraged. Outraged that men in New Zealand could treat women like that and think it is ok. I was waiting for the man in Parliament to stand up and say this is not good enough. Not poor Carol Beaumont was there trying to get some cut through. This is a male problem and a man needs to stand up and drive that issue. And no one else, I didn’t see anyone else do it. And I thought well if I ever get back in Parliament that’s something I’m going to push.
You didn’t see anyone else doing it, you said you could hear the chirping of birds, but Shane didn’t do anything either? So?
Yep, and ah…Shane is not exempt from my criticism of the Maori MPs in Parliament. So with the crickets chirping I’m the person that’s decided I want to stand up and address that issue.
All right well thank you very much for joining us this morning.