Ron Mark accused of using ministerial role to get votes

It was a tough day for New Zealand First on Tuesday.

As Shane Jones battled allegations of contempt of Parliament, another NZ First minister found himself in trouble.

Newshub has obtained a video of Ron Mark seemingly pitching for votes at an event he attended as a minister. National's accusing him of threatening to pull government funding if his party didn't get votes.

Mr Mark is both Defence and Veterans Affairs Minister and a NZ First MP - and it seems the lines are bit blurry.

In December he gave a speech to No Duff - a charitable trust that offers support to veterans. The Minister slipped on his NZ First hat talking about his party's polling and calling attendees out for their lack of support.

"To be perfectly honest, when I look at the polling results of my political party New Zealand First, then the veterans, the Defence base, you guys haven't supported us. At all," he said.

New Zealand First received just over seven percent of the vote at the last election. In the last Newshub poll they were below the 5 percent threshold.

Mr Mark then pitched for a political lifeline.

"If all the Defence Force family and everybody, uh Aaron and everybody else in the Defence Force threw us their party vote we'd probably be at 15 or 16 percent," he said.

The Aaron he mentions is Aaron Wood - former soldier - founder of No Duff. No Duff got $25,000 in government funding last year.

Mr Mark's not the only NZ First minister in hot water. There's been an urgent debate in Parliament on Mr Jones' conflict of interest.

It's to do with a tourism project in the north - Manea Footprints of Kupe - funded through the Provincial Growth Fund.

Mr Jones was pegged to chair Manea before he became an MP, then attended a ministerial meeting advocating for its funding. Now he's accused of misleading Parliament.

"I answered statements of fact but I accept that my interaction has fed a whole dynamic of misinformation," he said in Parliament.

But this isn't good enough for National.

"If he wasn't in the room providing that reassurance it probably wouldn't have been funded," says MP Paul Goldsmith.

Mr Jones says he "most certainly" did not offer Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern his resignation.

While there are now two NZ First ministers under the pump, the Labour Prime Minister is showing no signs of swinging the axe.


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