Minister’s West Coast mining visits not publicised

File photo / Angus Dreaver / RNZ

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, who has been under fire for his close links to the mining industry, visited two West Coast mines and had a private lunch with mining industry representatives this week, without revealing the visits until afterwards, according to a Westport News report, republished by RNZ.

Jones told the online newspaper that he had avoided pre-publicity to prevent a media “public circus” during his visits on Thursday to a gold project near Reefton and a coal mine north of Greymouth.

The private lunch which followed was at a cafe with 10 mining representatives, whose names were recorded in his ministerial diary and provided to Westport News.

Jones told the newspaper he could not escape contact with mining representatives in his social or professional life and is not bothered “one iota” by the perception of a “cosy relationship” with them.

“I’ve learned the hard way the best way to hide is in the open,” he told Westport News.