Never afraid to poke the bear, his most recent target is the public service and its treacle-like processes that delay decisions and progress. His remedy is to adopt the Aussie model of parachuting in hand-picked, loyal appointees as "s### kickers.
Having observed Australian politics from within and without – as a press secretary and a parliamentary reporter – I can agree with Jones’ observation that there is a willingness to import head bangers, in politer parlance, to break through the encrusted bureaucracy.
However, this approach has dangers. Australian politics are more tribal than our own, certainly a lot rougher – summed up as “if you see a head, kick it” by one leader – and definitely more corrupt. Nepotism and cronyism are almost compulsory, un-Australian not to embrace. This can lead to erratic decision-making at the cost of more reasoned and impartial policy advice and delivery.
Which brings us to the newly constituted Fisheries New Zealand, launched by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash at Parliament on Tuesday night. Nash has been critical of the Ministry for Primary Industries, believing it has lost its way.
Labour’s pre-election fisheries policy cited a decline in fisheries management capability, a long list of promises never delivered, slow pace of operational decision making and a scarcity of dedicated fisheries officers and observers. Will the new Fisheries New Zealand be any different? Nash gave little insight at the launch, providing no policy detail.
But he did repeat his pledge to engage with key stakeholders in a meaningful way, saying we all want the same thing, that is "abundant" fisheries. The new unit's head is Dan Bolger - a son of former Prime Minister Jim Bolger - a quiet, mild-mannered, thoughtful man who appears to be far removed from the Aussie prescription.
The position was not advertised, he is Nash's preferred appointee, but by all accounts he is decent, determined and prepared to listen rather than dictate. Bolger noted our Exclusive Economic Zone, the world's fourth largest, is so vast it is equivalent to one square kilometre for every New Zealander, a lot of environment to look after.
He also cited the importance of the seafood sector to the economy. "The science tells us that the majority of our fish stocks are okay, the basis and platform is sturdy," he told invited guests from across the various stakeholders at the parliamentary function.
They included Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and MPI director-general Martyn Dunne, none of whom were in the speaker line-up.
Kelvin Davis, Minister of Crown/Maori Relations (also a newly created role) chose the occasion to stress Maori, who are major players in the fishing industry with about 40 percent of the total quota, did not want to be a handbrake on progress, looking for a handout or compensation, but rather participants searching for solutions.
Te Ohu Kaimoana chair Jamie Tuuta said managing the views of competing interests was always a challenge and he expected Fisheries NZ would be soon put to the test. He said relations had been tested to breaking point with the previous government and welcomed a new approach.
"We have high expectations of Fisheries New Zealand and believe it is important iwi and the Crown work together for better value for all New Zealanders – while protecting our taonga for future generations.”
He reminded Nash of his commitment made at the Maori Fisheries conference in March to gain iwi input into Fisheries NZ thinking before important decisions are made. “That is something we will hold you to.”
So, the table is set - a new Minister is active and engaged with a conciliatory approach, the new fisheries head is respected and well credentialed, the new unit has strong support staff. What could go wrong?
For its part, the seafood sector is keen to engage on a number of fronts - improvements to the Quota Management System, sensible application of camera surveillance, filling the gaps in scientific stock assessments, sorting discards issues that have bedevilled us and furthering innovation.
Let's get on with it.