Labour leadership hopeful Shane Jones has lost the
opportunity to demonstrate his ability to go toe to toe with
Prime Minister John Key in Parliament after the party went back
on its plan to have all three contenders ask questions in the
Instead, the trio were to have travelled to a union rally in
South Auckland yesterday against employment law changes but
the plan changed again after it was decided their presence
would be a distraction.
Mr Jones, however, attended the meeting anyway.
The two other contenders David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson
put questions to Mr Key during Tuesday's session in
Parliament, while Mr Jones questioned Economic Development
Minister Steven Joyce.
All three were to have asked questions yesterday and the
Herald understands Mr Jones was to have taken on Mr Key.
However, Labour whip Chris Hipkins said "we had a number of
other issues that we wanted to pursue at question time".
"For us at the moment we either put all of the leadership
contenders up or we don't."
He said it was up to MPs including the three leadership
contenders which Government minister they wanted to question
and it was Mr Jones' decision to go up against Mr Joyce
rather than the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
With Prime Minister John Key rarely in Parliament on a
Thursday, Mr Jones will not have the opportunity to question
him in the House today. Next week all three contenders will
be absent from the House as they go on a roadshow as part of
the leadership contest which winds up with an election on
Mr Cunliffe didn't believe Mr Jones had been treated unfairly
by being denied the chance to test himself against the Prime
"The procedures process we've used has been fair to all
candidates and we've all been offered the same
Meanwhile, during Prime television's Back Benches programme
last night, Mana Leader Hone Harawira endorsed Mr Jones,
while his mother Titewhai backed Mr Robertson.
- Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald