COMMENT:

Rules and principles. Two concepts that don't appear to spend much time in the company of Shane Jones.

He's in trouble. Again.

This time he's interceded with authorities on behalf of a trucking company owned by his mother's great-great-great-grandmother's great-great grandson. The trucking company racked up 116 speeding and traffic-related fines in four years. The authorities want the trucks off the road. Matua Shane - as he likes to call himself - had a word with those authorities.

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That should set off alarm bells because he's the Associate Transport Minister. But hey, that's not the hat he was wearing during the chat, he reckons. Nope. He interceded as the Champion of the Regions - as he likes to call himself. Because the Champion of the Regions was worried about the 1000 jobs that would be lost if the company folded.

Riiiiiiiight.

The amazing thing is just how little Jones seems to care about having his integrity questioned. He just leans back, half closes his eyes, and chats about it like he's explaining the ins and outs of why he chose Quarter Tea for the bathroom walls.

In fact, it's almost like Jonesy - as he likes to call himself - is deliberately breaking rules and forgoing principles.

He's been in trouble for suggesting he'll interfere with the independent SFO, for attacking Spark's former CEO Simon Moutter, for attacking Air New Zealand's CEO Chris Luxon, and for attacking the Warehouse Group's Joan Withers.

And every time he's grilled over his integrity he just does his best Boris Johnson impersonation and waddles off to the debating chamber looking self-satisfied.

I get why he does this. The Sonny Bill Williams of Politics - as he likes to call himself - needs attention. Possibly in the same way that a junkie needs heroin, but also in order to keep his job.

The party he belongs to is currently polling below the 5 per cent threshold. As in, half of that. They should be doing better. Sure, New Zealand First always polls low mid-term, then bounces back during election campaigns. They often defy final-days predictions.

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Maybe they'll do the same thing this time. Or maybe they won't. This term, unlike others, they've had $3 billion to throw around and win over grateful regional voters, but it's not working. The voters are taking the money, thanks very much, then telling polling companies they'll vote for a much more sensible party.

Sensible is not a word you'd associate with NZ First at the moment. Not if the party allows the Prince of the Provinces - as he likes to call himself - this much leash. Or if it allows Defence Minister Ron Mark to give donations to a group then ask that same group for votes.

Let's be honest, post-Christchurch shooting, NZ First suddenly feels very wrong in this government. Jacinda Ardern has managed to make this government feel principled and progressive. She's reforming gun laws, taking on Facebook, uniting the country in its support for our Muslim community.

And then there's NZ First hanging around reminding us how she did a Faustian deal with the devil to get into power.

NZ First isn't principled enough to belong in this government. It hasn't been principled enough since day dot. This is the party that gave us Tuku Morgan's underwear scandal, Brendan Horan's nasty split from the party, Richard Prosser's attack on Muslim immigrants as "a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan" and Winston Peters' deafening dog-whistling.

NZ First feels like the stumbling, drunk boyfriend that the cool girl brought the party. She's too good for him, and everyone can suddenly see it.

Ardern might just have to crack the whip a little. Big Chief - as he likes to call himself - might be a good place to start.