Shane Jones 'entitled' to share his opinion of Fonterra

The AM Show 14/06/2018

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor won't be demanding an apology from Shane Jones, after the NZ First MP's Fonterra-flogging tirade.

Mr Jones, the Minister of Regional Development, said on Wednesday the country's biggest company should "focus less on interfering in politics and more on justifying the money they've lost overseas".

"I've been bloody disappointed that Fonterra - in my view - their leadership have not accepted there's been a new Government and there's a new narrative, and I've had a gutsful of them believing they're bigger than what their writ really is," Mr Jones said.

But Mr O'Connor told The AM Show that Mr Jones is "always entitled to have his opinion and he will always make his thoughts known to anyone".

"That's the way that Shane works - he's right up front with his opinions. Some people love it, some people hate it. He's entitled to do that."

Mr O'Connor acknowledged there is truth to what Mr Jones is claiming, and that as the country's biggest firm it is prone to bullying "from time to time".

"They're not doing things perfectly, there have been some offshore investments that have gone wrong, and so both management and governance have to look at themselves, work out whether they are doing the right thing by their farmers."

He says the Ministry for Primary Industries is currently "talking with all of the key stakeholders and will come back with an issues paper".

"Farmers and anyone else will be able to comment on that as we move down this path later in the year. The opportunity is there for Shane - and anyone else - to make comment on the future of Fonterra."

Mr Jones' attack on Fonterra comes a month after he lashed out at Air New Zealand for raising the price of its domestic fares, and three months after he called for heads to roll at the majority state-owned airline.

Listen to the full interview with Damien O'Connor above.

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