Jan 19, 2012
Shane Jones on asset sales and mining
You might remember Shane Jones’ bout of honesty following Labour’s election defeat. Jones came out saying that Labour got beat and beat good. Jones advocated a new approach and a period of reflection. The media and the commentariat praised him for his willingness to be upfront with the public and his party. However, towards the end of December Jones stretched his honesty a little far. Firstly, he came out effectively endorsing iwi looking to invest in state assets. A few days later Jones, as Labour’s regional development spokesperson, moved to champion mining for job starved areas.
I don’t think it was a sensible move to come out and effectively endorse iwi investment in state assets. Yes, Jones is of the northern conservative breed. He is also a product of iwi politics. But his comments go against Labour’s strong opposition and Maori opposition to asset sales. Labour does not need to cosy up to iwi. Iwi have an agenda and furthering that agenda will always involve cultivating a cosy relationship with the government of the day. Shane Jones, and the rest of the Maori caucus for that matter, would be better served advocating a different approach for iwi. Labour should publicly lobby iwi to invest in their own people. The line doesn’t mean much, but it goes down hella well with Maori.
The less sensible move was Jones’ mining advocacy. Mining is an economic solution for dry minds. It’s also bad politics. Mining is an idea that is in conflict with Maori values. It runs against the idea of kaitiakitanga and most other Maori values you can think of. It also runs against Kiwi values and Labour’s new direction. David Shearer is promoting Labour’s vision for a “clean, green, clever” economy. Surely that economy will exclude dirty extractive industries. Jones would also do well to remember that the largest protest in a generation was against mining.
Shane Jones is now the highest ranked Maori in Labour. So basically the spokesperson for all issues Maori. I hope Jones’ form recently is not something to go by. If it is, Labour’s going to have a hard time.