Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Jones hits out at 'poor advice'

MP cleared of corruption over citizenship case.

Labour MP Shane Jones is back on the front bench. Photo / APN
Labour MP Shane Jones is back on the front bench. Photo / APN

Former Labour high flyer Shane Jones is back on the front bench after being cleared of corruption over his decision to grant controversial Chinese businessman Bill Liu New Zealand citizenship in 2008.

But while Mr Jones says he accepts criticism of his handling of the affair by public watchdog the Auditor-General, he hit out at officials for providing him with poor information on which he based his decision.

In her overview of the report into Mr Jones' handling of Mr Liu's citizenship application while he was associate Immigration Minister, Ms Provost said officials were aware that Mr Yang's application had attracted "high-profile support from several members of Parliament".

But, "we found no evidence that any politicians attempted to interfere or apply any pressure in any unusual or inappropriate way in the decisions that Department officials made about the management of Mr Liu's file".

However, the report found "reason to criticise most of those involved in different aspects of the decision-making process".

Labour Leader David Shearer instigated the Auditor-General's report in order to address allegations made about Mr Jones' involvement which resurfaced when Mr Liu was tried but acquitted on immigration fraud charges last year.

During his trial, immigration officials alleged he was granted New Zealand citizenship because of apparent political connections.

Mr Shearer yesterday said he was pleased to welcome Mr Jones back to the front bench, and full duties in the regional development, forestry and associate finance portfolios.

"I take on the chin the criticisms that I could have asked for more information, I appeared to alienate the officials and, in the view of the report writer, I appeared a tad too hasty to make the decision," Mr Jones said.

The report noted Immigration NZ officials recommended that Mr Jones decline Mr Liu's application because he did not meet the good character test.

Mr Liu, who had also gone by a series of other names and was under investigation by the police and the Department of Internal affairs, had had his Australian permanent residency revoked by authorities some years earlier.

But Mr Jones, on humanitarian grounds, chose not to follow the officials' advice.

- NZ Herald

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