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Jones says he told forestry conference to 'back champion'

Jones says he told forestry conference to 'back the champion'

Shane Jones has responded to accusations of bribery by saying he suspects they're coming from National Party supporters.

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Regional Economic Development Minister has been accused of buying votes at a forestry conference earlier this month.

The New Zealand Herald has reported that some people who were in the audience that day said Mr Jones told them they needed to vote for him, or the forestry industry would miss out on money from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Mr Jones said he and his party, New Zealand First, have consistently stuck up for people working in the forestry sector, and he's not backing down from his message.

"I most certainly said 'if you like the policy we have dedicated half a billion dollars to rejuvenating the interests of the forestry sector - then back the champion, I am the champion of the forestry sector, a sphere of economic activity that has been neglected for a long period of time."

National's regional development spokesperson Chris Bishop said Mr Jones should be censored for his comments, which he described as outrageous.

"Mr Jones seems to conflate his own interests and the interests of the New Zealand First party with the public interest through the Provinicial Growth Fund, and he really needs to be censured for his comments."

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