Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has been accused of misleading Parliament over his involvement with Manea Footsteps of Kupe, the project in which he declared a conflict of interest.

Jones does not think he has done so, but will take advice on whether he needs to correct answers to parliamentary written questions.

Act leader David Seymour wrote to Speaker Trevor Mallard today asking him to look at whether Jones had breached parliamentary privilege.

"It is my belief that Hon Jones deliberately attempted to mislead the House in order to conceal the fact he was involved in a ministerial meeting and in a decision-making process regarding the Manea Footsteps of Kupe project," Seymour's letter to Mallard said.


Jones declared the conflict of interest in November 2017 and said he had no role in the Government's decision to grant up to $4.6m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to the Manea.

But he took part in a meeting about Manea on February 16 last year with four other Ministers and, according to one official at the meeting, gave reassurances about the project's viability in response to questions from Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Jones has pushed back on the official's description, saying he simply provided publicly-available information.

Seymour alleged that Jones' answers to written parliamentary questions misled Parliament, in particular his answers that he had had "no formal meetings regarding the Manea Footprints of Kupe project since receiving my ministerial warrants" and that he "was not part of the decision-making process".

Given Jones' presence and comments in the February meeting, Seymour said that "no reasonable observer would come to the conclusion that Hon Jones was not part of the decision-making process".

Jones said he would meet with Mallard and take advice on the matter.

His answer about having no formal meetings was in response to a question about who he had met in relation to PGF investment for Manea, but Jones said he thought it was about whether he had met with Manea representatives.

"I had one interpretation for what the question represented. I would never want to willingly mislead Parliament," Jones said.


"I'm going to take advice on whether my reasonable interpretation should stand or should I make a correction."

Jones has already had to correct 20 answers to questions from the National Party last year after he failed to disclose meetings.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has backed Jones, saying he followed all the advice from the Cabinet Office about managing the conflict of interest.

But she said it would have been helpful if Jones had left the meeting, and Jones accepted that.

"From time to time, rather than follows the institute of director's approach which I'm probably a bit more familiar with, I should contemplate leaving the room to avoid any raruraru (problems)," Jones said.

He added that his contribution in the ministerial meeting "has certainly fed a whole dynamic of misinformation".

The Government was forced onto the back foot this afternoon after Mallard accepted an application from National's regional economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith for an urgent debate about Jones' conflict of interest.

Goldsmith, in the debate, drew attention to the level of PGF money that has gone to Northland.

"The nature of spending $100m of taxpayers' money in one region, the Northland region, where the Minister says he has deep connections, is a challenging matter in terms of maintaining integrity in the system."

Senior Minister David Parker told the House Northland had high rates of violence, inter-generational welfare dependency and imprisonment and was worthy of PGF investment.

Parker was in the February meeting and said Jones' comments had no impact on his decision to support Manea's application, which he had already made nine days earlier.

Robertson said Jones was not part of the decision-making process.

"That is the critical element. The Ministers who made the decision know the answer to that question," Robertson said.