14 Feb 2013

Jones believed cleared in Auditor-General report

10:04 pm on 14 February 2013

Labour Party MP Shane Jones appears set to return to his position on the front bench.

The Auditor-General has completed a draft report into a decision made by Mr Jones when he was a minister to grant citizenship to a Chinese businessman.

As Associate Immigration Minister in 2008, he overrode advice from officials and approved citizenship for Yan Yong Ming, also known as Bill Liu.

Radio New Zealand's political staff understand that Shane Jones has been cleared of any wrongdoing, but the draft report makes recommendations about improving the process for handling such cases in the future.

Mr Jones was stood down from his portfolios and front bench role in 2012 after Labour leader David Shearer asked Auditor-General Lynn Provost to look into the matter.

Mr Shearer said on Thursday the indications are good from the draft report, and if Shane Jones is cleared he will be reinstated.

"He is one of our strongest assets. We're looking forward to having him in full capacity again."

But Prime Minister John Key says people should wait before jumping to conclusions.

"Let's see the report. When we have the opportunity to read it and to assess it, then we'll offer a view.

"But in the end, whether he's taken back or not is really rather irrelevant. He's had a pretty chequered career - he wasn't exactly known for being an incredibly stellar minister, so in the end if that's the way it works, that's the way it works.

"But I don't think National will be too worried about it."