We are told that Mr Jones was warned by one of his staff that if Mr Liu were repatriated to China he would probably face execution by the Chinese authorities – who would then harvest his internal organs for use in transplants. This information apparently weighed heavily in Mr Jones' decision to reject his officials' advice.
Mr Liu's relationship with at least one Labour Cabinet minister and one Labour MP does not, however, appear to have ever placed his application at serious risk of failing the political "sniff test".
Mr Shearer, alone, knows why the decision-making surrounding Mr Liu's application for citizenship offers no impediment to Mr Jones playing a key role in a future Labour-led government.
The New Zealand public, on the other hand, can easily be forgiven for wondering how the auditor-general's finding that Mr Jones did not act improperly has somehow been construed to mean that Mr Jones did not act unwisely. Is he truly innocent of any failures of judgment that a Labour leader keen to run a tight ethical ship might see as good reasons for keeping him away from ministerial decision-making in the future?
The Liu report was always going to be as much a test of Mr Shearer's ethical standards as it was of Mr Jones' handling of Mr Liu's citizenship application.
The auditor-general has given Mr Jones a pass.
Can we say the same for the efficacy of Mr Shearer's moral compass?
Trotter's reference to the political "sniff-test" is telling. Perception is everything in politics, and although the Auditor-General has cleared Shane Jones of any unlawful behaviour, she has been critical of his processes, record-keeping and communication. And just a week earlier, when the A-G cleared the Government of wrong-doing over SkyCity but reported process concerns, Shearer was all over it.
Are the stocks of talent within Labour really so thin that David Shearer has to take a punt on Shane Jones? That is perhaps the most significant question of all.