Farmers 'out of line' at Parliament protest - Willie Jackson

A Labour Party minister has jumped to the defence of Shane Jones, after his bizarre address to a group of angry farmers outside Parliament on Thursday.

Jones - a NZ First MP - described them as a bunch of rednecks in a media stand-up, after breaking out into a waiata as they booed.

Willie Jackson says while he would not have taken the same approach, he understands where the Forestry Minister was coming from.

"Those farmers were a bit out of line," he told The AM Show on Friday.

"That's the extreme faction of the National Party who turned up. You know that. We're working with the reasonable farmers... then you get the right-wing fundamen... I'm not saying anything like Jonesy, I'm not going that far."

Several of the protesters carried signs calling Government MPs "c**ts".

Some of the same pro-farmers were also wearing MAGA hats that said 'Make Ardern Go Away'.

"They were saying terrible things about our Prime Minister, they were swearing, and Jonesy - what's a man meant to do?" said Jackson.

"A bit of entertainment. 'Tutira mai nga iwi', you know?"

Collins and Jackson.
Collins and Jackson. Photo credit: The AM Show

National MP Judith Collins, appearing with Jackson on The AM Show, said she couldn't believe what she was seeing and hearing.

"Farmers are quite angry about having pine trees stuck all over their properties, and he sings them that. Mind you, I know farmers pretty well and the general view I think would be, 'Jesus - what's he up to?'"

She gave him "points" for showing up though.

"It's naturally going to be a bit of a hostile crowd... I loved it." 

Jones' uncompromising nature has seen him in the headlines a lot recently. Asked if he was "out of control", Jackson said he's "been like this the whole two years".

"He makes a valuable contribution and he surprises us... Jonesy is so entertaining, isn't he? ... He's so eloquent. And he surprises you - he goes into a bit of singing sometimes."

Jackson said other NZ First MPs - Ron Mark and Winston Peters among them - can also sing.