Adopting Shane Jones into New Zealand First is a high-risk move for Winston Peters. It won't take long to convince you of that: Jones' nickname is Minister of Porn. Nuff said.

Still, that's a problem for another day. Long term, Jones is a risk. Medium term, he solves a problem. And, short term, the porn thing probably won't even matter.

We'll start with the short term.

Jones has baggage. There's the incident that earned him his moniker. In 2010 Jones was forced to admit buying hotel porn on his government credit card.

Advertisement

Then there's the Chinese fraudster decision. In 2008 - as Associate Immigration Minister in Helen Clark's Labour Government - Jones approved the New Zealand citizenship of businessman Bill Liu. Jones overruled official advice not to. Liu went on to earn a conviction for money laundering.

But, none of this will matter short term because it all happened years ago.

In 2017, who's going to dredge that up for voters? Not Labour. They want to form a government with New Zealand First.

Not National. They also want to form a government with New Zealand First.

Not the minor parties. They want to hang like a tick on to the flank of whichever government is formed with New Zealand First.

Peters will likely get an easy ride this election and, therefore, so will Jones.

Plus, any damage from Jones' indiscretions must be outweighed by the attention he's attracting.

Rumours of Jones joining the party have circulated for months. That generated headlines. The announcement on Friday generated headlines. Jones' race in the Whangarei electorate will generate more headlines.

And headlines, especially for a minor party, mean more votes on election day.

Medium term Jones solves a problem.

He's sat around the Cabinet table before. Which means there are now two people in New Zealand First with some real-life government experience: Jones and Peters. None, I repeat, none of the other declared candidates in the party have ever run a country.

And that's what Peters plans to do. He plans to help run the country after the election.

But he needs credible people with experience if he wants to demand a huge number of ministerial portfolios in coalition negotiations.

Long term, Jones is a huge risk.

The guy's got a lot going for him. He's well educated: he has a Masters from Auckland University and won a fellowship to Harvard. He's well spoken, smart and genuinely likeable.

Any damage from Jones' indiscretions must be outweighed by the attention he's attracting.

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

He's the closest thing Peters has to a Mini-Me. That's not a great analogy. It makes Peters Dr Evil.

Anyway, Jones is part Maori, comes from Northland, likes a drink, loves needling the Green Party and enjoys a bit of mischief. Sounds like Peters right?

Except, he's not Peters.

If Peters is hoping Jones might ensure the party's survival by one day taking over as leader, he's got a problem.

It's a big call to assume New Zealand First supporters will take a liking to Jones.

What the party's supporters like about Peters is his old-world charm. He has the ability to make outright populism more palatable through decorum. Jones has the populism part down pat. He has no decorum at all.

He's a shabby dresser, is in my view prone to bouts of arrogance and there's the porn thing.

Party members are already running an active #neverjones Facebook page, dedicated to opposing his candidacy.

What's more, Jones has proven hard to manage.

He defied orders in Labour. Peters demands discipline. He'll expect to keep telling his lieutenants what to do. Will Jones obey?

Still, by the time Jones - inevitably - takes over as leader of New Zealand First, Peters will be happily fishing off the Northland coast somewhere. At that time, Jones will be Jones' problem.