Shane Jones wasn't backward in coming forward on The Country today, offering good, bad and sometimes ugly opinions on various New Zealand institutions and public figures.
The NZ First MP talked to Jamie Mackay about his Labour colleagues, his stoush with the forestry industry and had some hard words of a certain critic of the Government's water reforms.
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The New Zealand First MP had nothing but praise for Environment Minister David Parker, even though he admitted the pair didn't see eye to eye on the recent freshwater reforms.
"David is very passionate about these things. He's one of the finest parliamentarians of my generation," Jones told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
"Over the years he's really been a pillar for me when I've been through my own ups and downs. He doesn't agree with probably what he might regard as my pragmatism or some of the things that I'm dogmatic about, but in politics you do form mutually deep respectful relationships and that's the case with Mr Parker and I."
As for other members of the Labour Cabinet, Jones said there were "some very significant politicians there", including Education Minister Chris Hipkins who "does the business in the House every day". Jones even had a grudging respect for Trevor Mallard, despite his belief that the Speaker of the House was "threatening to kick me out of Parliament on a regular basis".
Jones said he didn't want to "go through ranking any of my colleagues from Labour" as ultimately his opinion wouldn't count come the September election when "the public will do that for you and I".
Mackay asked Jones to comment on his recent battle with the forestry industry over where New Zealand should send its logs.
The Forestry Minister said he had stood up for the industry, but that hadn't stopped some "shrill voices" from the "bitter and twisted" making themselves heard.
"We've got a Bill before the Select Committee. There have been some shrill voices but they've been moderated by the processing and manufacturing sector who are very, very keen to actually see a more reliable supply of timber to expand, reserve and develop jobs here in New Zealand and not send all of our commodities overseas chasing a spot price in a raw unvarnished form.
"Now there are some log-mongers and log traders who work for big companies who are a bit bitter and twisted but I'd say to them the Select Committee process is a very trustworthy process and I don't think people's levels of alarmism about the Bill are necessarily justified."
The export of primary produce was not going to stop, said Jones, but over time New Zealand needed to capture more value "to develop our nation, not just develop the balance sheets of the foreign investors".
"You develop your nation by ensuring you don't hollow out your economy by being exclusively an exporter of commodities and you have your people trying to exist in a world where they're carriers of water and hewers of wood with no value-added jobs paying very good salaries.
"That's a totally legitimate thing for a politician like myself to pursue and I will be pursuing it and I will be campaigning on it during the course of the election."
The Government's recent water reforms had drawn criticism from Dr Mike Joy. Mackay asked Jones what he thought about the freshwater scientist.
"Dr Mike Joy must cease regarding New Zealand as an ecology tutorial audience. He is in my view to farmers, what Gareth Morgan is to cats and the SPCA," said Jones.
"I'm deeply concerned that every single thing that David Parker tries to do to move forward in a robust fashion and balance all the interest, the first thing we hear from Mike Joy - who's got vocal skills that would rival the worst anti-rodeo activist – I want him to go back and be a genuine scholar, or join the Green Party and be a politician. Quite frankly if he did the latter I'd have more respect for him."
Jones finished his tirade against Joy with a political promise for those in agricultural industries.
"I can promise you one thing. Any government that my leader and I are blessed with the opportunity to help form in the future will not include an opportunity for that man to spread his baleful influence on the mothers and fathers and children who derive their livelihood from provincial primary produce industries, and you can write a cheque out on that."
Also in today's interview: Jones discussed NZ First's input on the water reforms.