Shane Jones remains buoyantly optimistic about New Zealand First's election chances next month, he told The Country's Jamie Mackay today.
The Regional Economic Development Minister suggested Mackay was "obviously having a bleak day" when The Country host said he would miss Jones and Winston Peters if they didn't make it back into Parliament after October 17.
"You don't see the spring grass growing. I see shoots, I see roots going deep and I see my leader Winston's party standing strong after the date that you referred to. No more negativity! No more bleakness! The shining cuckoo has arrived - that's the Māori term, the pīpīwharauroa - for the spring time!"
Jones said his leader's fiery interview with Jack Tame on TVNZ's Q&A yesterday "wasn't edifying television."
"I felt that that particular young man, Mr Tame - who's no slouch when it comes to asking questions - he could've treated the Deputy Prime Minister with more respect."
The interview was an example of "Americanisation, clickbait and gotcha politics" which started online and had "metastasised into the mainstream media," Jones said.
"Television One - they've a public-funded outfit and theoretically they should be out to get information as opposed to continually trying to verbally lecture at people. I actually quite like journalists who want to verbally lecture at me because I back myself as a verbal maestro."
Jones went on to demonstrate his verbal prowess by nimbly dodging criticism of his friend David Parker, over the Environment Minister's freshwater reforms.
"I know there's a lot of white water around the South Island farmers and Southland stake holders and indeed your radio show with Mr Parker, but I'm more than willing to be hard on the issues - but where Mr Parker is concerned for quite honourable reasons I'm always soft on the personality."
No such luck for Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor, for whom Jones harboured an old rugby grudge.
"I probably have had a few goes with Damien O'Connor. Him and I have played rugby – he never rescued me at the parliamentary rugby team at one game - and I came back with an enormously large black eye and sent home by Helen Clark, pretty much booted out of the caucus for a week."
The Government's freshwater reforms had come under fire from the rural sector, and Mackay suggested Jones wouldn't win any farmer votes by supporting Parker.
New Zealand First and the Labour Party had "sought to find common ground" and a balance between "economic realism" and better water quality outcomes, Jones said.
However, this did not mean New Zealand First supported over-regulation that had been "dreamt up in warm distant bureaucratic offices in Wellington".
"Our party's never going to agree with a level of regulatory creep that is cruel in relation to the post-Covid experience.
"[Regulations] have to be conceived of on the ground in the inclement weather and living conditions of the farm of Southland."
In fact, New Zealand First wanted the Resource Management Act "dismembered" to avoid over-regulation and "farming by consent," Jones said.
"The New Zealand First Party is not a bunch of enthusiasts wanting to see more and more industry put under the control of Roman-sandal, long socks, short pants-wearing officious bureaucrats working out whether or not your business has to close down because you need a resource consent."
"That is not once what I have championed as a spokesman for regional New Zealand."
Also in today's interview: Jones talked about his "rich and varied background" in the fishing industry, and his concerns about over-surveillance in that industry.