The Opposition is accusing Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones of deliberately creating a distraction to shift the focus away from issues around questions of a conflict of interest.

Yesterday, Jones launched an attack on Spark managing director Simon Moutter for going public with the interim decision by the Government Communications Security Bureau to block Huawei's involvement in its 5G plans.

This comes as Jones has been criticised over what National has described as a conflict of interest over his involvement in plans to build Manea Footprints of Kupe in Northland.

Jones has denied these claims.


ACT Leader David Seymour said Jones was "so desperate for a distraction from his own problems he's willing to threaten and bully just about anyone."

He said Jones was a "serious political liability" for the Government.

In the House yesterday, Jones said he had a message for corporate New Zealand.

"Do not arrogantly take upon yourselves the ability to influence foreign policy and make these unwise statements as Mr Simon Moutter did to the sharemarket, thus providing an opportunity for anxiety and stress for all of our exporters."

National's Regional Development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said whenever Shane Jones is under pressure, he lashes out.

"Simon Moutter is the latest in a long line of recipients of Jones' ill-disciplined attacks on business leaders. It's no wonder that business confidence levels remain very low."

Moutter is by no means the first private sector boss Jones has gone after.

Last year, he took aim at Air New Zealand, Fonterra and The Warehouse Group.
And he has shown little remorse for his attacks in the past.

"Whether it's Fonterra losing a lot of money and never hearing anything from the chairman or whether it's Air New Zealand, I think garden variety kiwis are looking for a political figure to challenge [these companies] when they're not practising what they preach," he said in April last year, after he called out The Warehouse Group chief executive Joan Withers.

Moutter took to Twitter after Jones' attack in the House yesterday to address the comments.

He noted he was not the first chief executive to be criticised by Jones.

"Maybe I should feel honoured to join my friends Joan Withers and Christopher Luxon in the 'Shane Jones lambasted CEO club'."