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Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ reported comments to a forestry awards ceremony are constitutionally outrageous and deserve censure from the Prime Minister, National’s Regional Development Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Mr Jones reportedly told the forestry industry they needed to vote for him or miss out on money from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“One person said Mr Jones’ comments during the course of the evening were an inducement to “bribery”, another thought he was “buying votes”, one said he had “hijacked” the evening looking for votes, and it was “pretty disgusting.”

“Yet again Shane Jones has conflated the advancement of his own political career (and the future of the NZ First Party) with his constitutional duties as a Minister of the Crown, who should act in the public interest.

“It is crass and inappropriate for Ministers to say things like “This is reciprocity. If you want it, back it.”

“This latest incident comes after Defence Minister Ron Mark told the No Duff Charity, who he had secured money for, “If all the Defence Force family threw us their party vote we’d probably be at 15 or 17 percent. The reality is I could be a bum in the next election.”

“NZ First seems to think the purpose of them being in Government is to extract money from the Cabinet and then shower it around the country like confetti to people who they think might vote for them. They have zero understanding of the public interest, and total understanding of New Zealand First’s interests.

“As Mr Jones is discovering, the two frequently do not collide.

“Sadly we know all too well from the last regrettable two years, the Prime Minister will do nothing about Mr Jones’ comments. He seems able to say whatever he likes, to whoever he likes, whenever he likes, with no sanction whatsoever.” 

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