Shane Jones has inserted himself into a court case between the NZ Transport Agency and a Northland trucking firm by quizzing NZTA’s top executive about the conduct of the case, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Associate Transport Minister has admitted asking NZTA’s CEO to explain the legal authority being invoked by Meredith Connell, the law firm hired to oversee the agency’s regulatory compliance cases.

“Today Mr Jones said he had promised the Prime Minister he would ‘don a cone of silence’ over the case but it is too late for that. He’s already signalled his displeasure about the case to the NZTA chief – what other inference could a senior public servant draw from such an approach?

“Mr Jones also acknowledged numerous conversations with Mr Semenoff in recent years in which the Northland businessman raised his views about NZTA. There can be little doubt the minister waded in with his eyes open. He may not have expected to be caught out again.

“This isn’t the first time Mr Jones has been conflicted as official papers show he was at meetings in 2018 when the Government decided to give $4.6 million to the Manea Footsteps of Kupe project. In that case, he denied involvement only to be caught out by the notes of officials who attended the meetings.

“It is disturbing that wearing his Regional Economic Development hat, Mr Jones has control of a $3 billion provincial slush fund which refuses to make public the salient details of its funding arrangements.

“National believes in open, accountable Government based on prudent, properly assessed policies.”

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