12 Mar 2014

Jones takes issue with Green Party

11:07 am on 12 March 2014

Labour MP Shane Jones says it's a bit rich for the Greens to complain over comments he made about one of their MPs, when the Greens have called the Conservative Party's Colin Craig thin-skinned.

Shane Jones.

Shane Jones. Photo: RNZ

In a radio interview, Mr Jones criticised Gareth Hughes for interfering in an Environmental Protection Authority hearing on a proposed iron-ore mine.

Mr Jones said he himself quietened down once the Commerce Commission started investigating his recent claims about the Countdown supermarket chain, and respecting an independent authority should also be "good enough for the Green mollyhawk".

The Green Party contacted the Labour Party about that comment, it was discussed by their respective chiefs of staff, and Labour leader David Cunliffe says he has reminded Mr Jones that he needs to treat Labour's potential coalition partners with respect.

Mr Jones questions why the Greens saw fit to complain, when they recently criticised Mr Craig for not being able to cope with the rough and tumble of political debate, after he took umbrage at criticism of him by Greens co-leader Russel Norman.

Mr Jones told Morning Report he doesn't understand why his comments have created such a storm. "I had no appreciation it would grow so quickly," he says, "and quite frankly I think the Greens realise there's always going to a bit of robust debate in election year."

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams says tension between potential coalition partners like Labour and the Greens are inevitable in an election year, because they're fishing in the same pool for votes.

Mr Williams says Mr Jones can get carried away sometimes but his blunt approach can be useful for Labour, as it appeals to the party's core voters.

In any case, Mr Williams says, he doesn't think the remarks about Mr Hughes were particularly bad, and it's unlikely to be the last time Labour and the Greens come to blows.