When the forestry industry was told by Shane Jones it would receive political utu if it did not repay economic favours with votes, it was a bad look. The industry probably thought it would hold on for more than a couple of weeks to the honour of inspiring Jones's biggest blunder this year. But it was not to be.
He shot. He scored. And he proudly showed his scores in a series of photos posted on Facebook. The New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister went to Thailand on holiday, and while there he visited a shooting range where he spent a merry hour firing an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon just for the hell of it. It's the sort of weapon used in the March 15 mosque shooting and banned here under legislation introduced by his government since then.
So the incident raises the obvious question: should Cabinet ministers be allowed to play with guns?
Given what happened in Christchurch, a lot of people might find handling such a weapon distasteful. But Jones is made of sterner stuff.
He defended himself with the eloquent, all-purpose cop-out favoured by people who don't really have an argument: "It is what it is."
He also said: "You go on a holiday, you try different things," which is absolutely true. But for most travellers that means a few historic sites and some food like we don't have at home. Not having a bash with a weapon that can fire up to 800 rounds per minute.
That said, gun ranges are popular with a certain cohort of tourists. For those holiday makers, it's a relatively harmless piece of fun. But for a Cabinet minister of a country where 51 innocent people were killed by such a weapon, not engaging in the activity would seem to be more like a sacred duty.
The image of Jones with the AR-15 could not help recall that of another macho international leader. Unlike Vladimir Putin, however, at least Jones kept his shirt on and didn't force a horse to be in the photo with him.
Even Colt, the company that makes the guns aren't that into them anymore. It announced last month that it was ending production of the weapons due to "significant excess manufacturing capacity" in the sector.
Jones's boss Winston Peters came to his defence, guns blazing, rushing to support his colleague with his now familiar litany of irrelevancies that skirt the issue. People with reservations about the minister's actions were "unreconstructed morons" and a "whole lot of hopeless ne'er-do well critics who don't seem to have a life [criticising] someone for actually having a life". And if that life includes embarrassing your colleagues, and shaming your country, that's obviously just a bit of fun. Peters also echoed Jones's other line of defence, which can be summarised as: What happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. Except when it gets posted on Facebook, that is.
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Hand on heart, Jones tells us, he didn't think that it would matter. And if he genuinely thought that then it's open to question whether he has the qualities needed to be a Cabinet minister.
His photos give offence not just to the Muslim population of the country he serves, but the wider population in general.
Sometime in the near future, Peters and Jones will be sitting down with Gun City's David Tipple to share the meal with them that he won in a charity auction. It will be a great chance to compare notes and possibly get some holiday tips from the widely travelled gunstore owner.