Shane Jones blindsided his colleagues yesterday by
announcing he was leaving Labour to take up a position
created by National. Photo / APN
Labour party leader David Cunliffe said he did not try to
convince Shane Jones to stay with the party when he received
news of his resignation yesterday.
The MP blindsided Labour Party colleagues by announcing last
night he intended to quit politics just months out from the
election, saying he did not believe he could give 100 per
cent to his role.
At a press conference at Avondale RSA in Auckland this
morning, Mr Cunliffe said the reasons for Mr Jones'
resignation were personal to him.
"They did not come as an entire surprise, I've been aware of
the circumstances and questions he's been asking himself for
Mr Cunliffe described the leaking of Mr Jones' decision to
the media as less than ideal. "I was informed by Shane Jones
yesterday morning ... I don't think any of us expected it to
Mr Jones had enjoyed a "free rein" from party leadership this
year, Mr Cunliffe said.
"He's had my full support on the great work that he's done on
the supermarkets issue and other issues."
Mr Cunliffe said he didn't know if the National party had
attempted to court any other Labour MPs and he was sure there
would be a place in the Labour Party caucus for Mr Jones if
he changed his mind.
Mr Jones told the Herald last night he would leave Parliament
next month after he was shoulder tapped by Foreign Minister
Murray McCully for a new role as a roving economic ambassador
across the Pacific.
He said his unsuccessful bid to become leader last year was
part of his decision, but he also wanted to try a new
"Over Easter I just had a deeply introspective time and was
truthful to myself. I don't want to do it any more. The
leadership had a bit to do with it, but I'm 55 this year and
I just want to go and do something else. I'm not able to give
to Labour the 100 per cent that I ought to be giving. They
need a team to stay for the long term and I'm not in that
Mr Jones said he had worked hard to expose Countdown's
alleged mistreatment of New Zealand suppliers. His campaign
forced a Commerce Commission investigation into the issue.
The decision had "absolutely nothing to do with party unity",
Mr Cunliffe said.
On TVNZ's Breakfast show this morning Mr Jones said he would
not be returning to the political sector. "I've made my
decision and I'm moving on."
"The political collar has chafed this dog's neck and now I've
slipped the collar."
Mr Jones' resignation opens a position for Kelvin Davis,
Labour's candidate in Te Tai Tokerau.
Mr McCully confirmed he had shoulder-tapped Mr Jones this
year to ask him to consider taking a new role working on New
Zealand's economic development aid programme across the
Pacific and in other small developing countries.
He said his experience on the Maori Fisheries Commission and
commercial background fitted the role perfectly. He said Mr
Jones would also play a role in New Zealand's bid for the
Security Council and the Small Island Developing Nations
meeting in Samoa this year.
Mr Jones denied being a "sellout" in leaving for a role
offered by the National party.
"Being in politics is also like being at a holiday inn, you
serve your time and then the next person arrives to take your
place," he told RNZ this morning.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told RNZ Mr Jones'
departure would be a "loss to Parliament, it'll be a major
blow to the Labour Party and an even bigger blow to
- Claire Trevett of the NZ Herald and Brendan Manning of