Shane Jones in 'open defiance' of PM after Fonterra comments, say National

National MP Paul Goldsmith has called Shane Jones' critical comments of Fonterra "embarrassing" for the Prime Minister and said her response had been weak. 

Mr Jones yesterday said dairy giant Fonterra had become disconnected from the farming community.

"I thoroughly believe this, and I've said it elsewhere, as the CEO leaves Fonterra the chairman in quick order should catch the next cab out of town," he said. 

"I think Shane Jones is in open defiance of the Prime Minister," Mr Goldsmith said. "She made it very clear last time he got on his high horse and started attacking business leaders that it was a step too far and he shouldn’t do it, and he's out doing it again."

In March, Mr Jones criticised Air New Zealand, saying they had "turned their back" on provincial small towns. 

"Of course it's embarrassing, and it must be very frustrating for her, but her response has been weak, because she’s made it quite clear it was a step too far last time, he's done it again," Mr Goldsmith said. 

Mr Jones said he believed Fonterra had become disconnected from the farming community. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister today said today Mr Jones made the comments in a personal capacity.

"He did not make them as a Minister, and it's not Government policy, end of story," Ms Ardern said. 

However Mr Goldsmith said it was not the end of the story. 

"When you're a Cabinet Minister responsible for regional economic development and you're talking about the company that is the largest company in the regions of New Zealand, you're not entitled to a personal opinion."

Mr Jones stood by his comments, telling media he does not "shy away from owning" his views. 

The Regional Economic Development Minister said he made the comments in a closed meeting. Source: 1 NEWS

"I think that from time-to-time in a MMP coalition Government, a robust NZ First politician such as myself, should be entitled to serve notice on these corporate aristocrats."

MP Paul Goldsmith said Mr Jones’ comments were “embarrassing” for the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS