Labour MP Shane Jones says Greens are too thin-skinned after the party laid a complaint about his attack on one its MPs.
Greens’ head of staff Ken Spagnolo said he had raised Mr Jones’ comments with Labour head of staff Matt McCarten.
Mr Spagnolo said it was not a formal complaint, but he had told Labour that Mr Jones’ comments about Greens’ fitness to govern were “unhelpful”.
Mr Jones, Labour’s economic development spokesman, had criticised Green MP Gareth Hughes on Radio Waatea for “carrying on like a mollyhawk” in his opposition to offshore mining.
The comments earned him a telling off from leader David Cunliffe, who said that the comments about a potential coalition partner were inappropriate.
Mr Jones was unrepentant this afternoon.
“Is this the same Green Party that complains of Colin Craig being too thin-skinned?” he said.
“I’m from Kaitaia. I know it’s mollyhawk in the north. Further down the line it’s mollymawk. Now I could’ve got my names wrong but people should just loosen up.
“The thought that it’s led to a complaint, I’ll just leave the public to judge that for what it is.” . . .
Th Greens are often likened to watermelons – green on the outside and red inside but melons have thick skins.
Insulting potential coalition partners might not be helpful it you’re trying to appear like a government in waiting, but this does look more than a little thin-skinned when Russel Norman is refusing to retract his comments about Conservative leader Colin Craig.
It’s also a distraction.
Heads of staff are supposed to keep their heads down and stay out of the headlines.
If Spagnolo felt the need to raise the issue with McCarten there was no need to go public about it.
Jones was also in trouble for comments about Asian students.
Meanwhile Cunliffe confirmed he had spoken to Jones about straying outside his portfolio areas and using strong language to attack the Green Party.
But he had not been disciplined
“I’ve spoken to him. The message to caucus is …that all of us are consulting with our colleagues if we are crossing portfolio and manage our comments in a proper way.”
He said Jones was a much-valued colleague but occasionally his rhetoric crossed the line. There was a clear understanding not to attack potential coalition partners.
At the weekend Jones criticised the number of foreign university students – a responsibility that crossed the roles of Grant Robertson and Raymond Huo. Cunliffe said it was a heat of the moment debate comment and fully understandable. . .
This is straying into New Zealand First’s xenophobic territory. It also highlights tensions in Labour between its factions, once more gives Jones more attention than the rest of his colleagues put together, albeit for the wrong reasons.