Jacinda Ardern tells Cabinet to 'focus on their jobs' and 'not on National'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has issued New Zealand First MP Shane Jones a public telling off for appearing to question the integrity of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). 

And not only that: she has given her entire Cabinet a dressing-down. 

"My expectation is [that] ministers focus on doing their jobs and not on National," the Prime Minister said on Thursday. 

Jones, the Regional Economic Minister, on Wednesday risked breaching the independence of the Serious Fraud Office which is investigating National Party donations. 

"We will study every single step they take to ensure, because it's the National Party, it's not whitewashed," Jones said in Parliament. 

Ardern on Thursday made it clear to the public Jones was in the wrong.

"The SFO absolutely have operational independence and that must be maintained," she said. 

Next week Jones will get yet another dressing-down from the Prime Minister. That one will be in front of his Cabinet colleagues.

"I'll give a general statement to Cabinet around my expectations."

But Jones is far from penitent.

"I have every right as a Parliamentarian to have high expectations of the SFO," he told media on Thursday. 

And New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is not phased. When asked if he reprimanded Jones on Wednesday, he replied: "Why would I need to do that?" 

Jones has had a week of controversy, on Monday describing a journalist as a "bunny boiler". Again, he showed no regret.  

"I don't think anyone should be offended," he said. 

He then attacked the CEO of Spark, Simon Moutter, who called for the Government to show proof of the decision turn down Huawei's 5G network.

"Another Simon who has let us down," Jones said.

Yet again, he showed no regret. 

"My remarks are based directly on feedback from senior commercial leaders."

The National Party has claimed Jones is deflecting from questions around his handling of a perceived conflict of interest.

"We've had buffoon-like behaviour that actually belittles Parliament, belittles projects and certainly treats taxpayers like they're his own ATM," deputy leader Paula Bennett said. 

The Prime Ministerial telling-offs to New Zealand First ministers have been coming hard and fast. It has elevated to a public flogging in front of all her ministers. 

Reminding them to stay in line suggests Jacinda Ardern has reached peak frustration.


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