Home > The Body Politic > The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

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The Nationalmobile

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Where does one start…?

¶  Growing numbers of injuries and fatalities in various industries, caused by health and safety de-regulation in the early 1990s, by a previous National government?

¶  National passing legislation last year, increasing the powers of the surveillance state by enabling legislation for the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders?

¶  Permitting dangerous drilling practices in our deep coastal waters?

¶ Hekia Parata on education?

¶ The gutting and collapse of Solid Energy?

¶ John Banks/Kim Dotcom/SkyCity/dodgy donations?

¶  Peter Dunne’s  unmitigated mess over “legal highs”?

¶  Maurice Williamson’s attempt to influence/query a police investigation surrounding a wealthy immigrant?

¶  National’s unhealthy relationship with immigrants; big business; and corporate donors-for-favours?

¶  Corporate cronyism for aluminium smelters, film companies, et al?

¶  Judith Collins’ lies over her dinner at Oravida and a mysterious, un-named Chinese official?

 

Let’s start with the last, and most recent; Judith Collins.

It appears that there are three serious grounds for which John Key  has no choice but to dismiss Collins from her ministerial rolls;

1.

Collins lied

On 5 March, Collins stated that she went to the Oravida offices;

To actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“.

On  18 March, Collins repeated this statement in Parliament;

“I was being driven around and I was assured by the ambassador that we could pop into Oravida on the way to the airport, or else I could have gone to the airport and I could have sat in the lounge for an extra long time.”

But this excuse was shown to be demonstrably false when then Labour’s Grant Robertson revealed in Parliament;

“Is she aware that Oravida’s headquarters are 30km in the opposite direction from where her hotel and business meetings were held and not on the way to Pudong airport at all?”

On 2 May, documents released to the media under an Official Information Act (OIA) request revealed this email from Minister Collins’ office;
“On Sunday, October 20 [2013], the minister will be having a dinner that will include (redacted name). He has agreed to meet with the minister arranged by Mr Stone Shi, Oravida. The minister would like ambassador Carl Worker and his wife to attend this dinner. A briefing from Mfat will be required.”

The meeting with her husband’s company (Oravida) was pre-planned as far back as 15 October 2013 – the date of the above email.

In fact,  as Vernon Small reported on 2 May, for Fairfax media, there is no way that Collins could have made an unplanned stopover at Oravida, nor anywhere else;

Mfat’s China unit policy officer, Nicholas Clutterbuck, advised that “while the dinner can be regarded as private, the minister cannot make unplanned/uncommunicated travel movements around Beijing during her stay”.
Therefore, Collins told a baldfaced lie when she said she had stopped off at Oravida on her way to the airport  “to actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“. (By the way, this is not the first time a “cup of tea” has landed a National politician in dire trouble.)

2.

Collins is avoiding responsibility/shifting blame

Whilst avoiding taking responsibility is by no means unique to Judith Collins, and is commonly practiced by other National ministers, attempting to shift blame on to her staff is nothing short of the desperate act of a politician whose career is on intensive life support.

How else to explain Collins’ eyebrow-raising comment on 4 May, when she said,
“My office is full of control freaks who want to have all the information they possibly can, and when I found out they’d asked for a briefing I said, ‘Don’t do that; it’s a private dinner. You’ll waste MFAT’s time”.”
Any Minister who is not in control of her own office must be questioned as whether they are fit to hold a ministerial warrant. Either her staff are out of control – or else Collins has lied again. (See #1 above)

3.

Collins visit to Oravida was a Business Meeting – grounds for dismissal

 

The meeting at Oravida – a company where Judith Collins’s husband is a Director – and the subsequent dinner with a Chinese official, was not a “business meeting” said Judith Collins.

However, subsequent to the non-business dinner, Oravida acquired a quarantine clearance from the Chinese government, and Oravida made a $30,000 donation to National, days later.

But more critical, as revealed on Polity, is an email dated 23 October 2013, which clearly refers to Collins’ meeting at Oravida;

Purpose / objective
To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China

The email is reproduced here in it’s entirety (courtesy from Polity);

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collins oravida email

 

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That email clinches Collins’ guilt. It is the “smoking gun” that proves Collins’ intent for visiting her husband’s business. The words are there in black and white; To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China.

This was  the same breach of Cabinet rules that caused  National Cabinet Minister, Pansy Wong, to resign,

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Judith Collins

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Mrs Wong resigned as a Cabinet minister last month after it was revealed her husband Sammy could have conducted private business while on a taxpayer-subsidised overseas trip.

Rules around the perk which pays up to 90 per cent of MPs’ and their spouses international travel, prohibit any private business activities during trips funded by it.

A Parliamentary Services inquiry ordered by Speaker Lockwood Smith cleared Mrs Wong and her husband of any serious misuse of taxpayer-funded travel perks.

The report by former public servant Hugh McPhail found the Wongs breached rules on use of the perk just once by conducting private business during a trip to China in 2008.

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The case against Judith Collins is clear-cut;

1. She lied.

2. She refuses to take responsibility.

3. It is clear that her trip to Oravida’s offices and factory were indeed business-related.

Her position as Minister is no longer tenable. She must go.

 

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Postscript #1

This is the woman who recently took joy at exhibiting an “Iron Lady” affectation by making personal attacks on a fellow Parliamentarian;

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Ministers accused of bullying Turei

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Dear Leader John Key has given Collins “time out”,  lamely explaining,

“She’ll be back by the Budget but I think she should take four or five days.  We work in a stressful environment. There’s no question that Judith made some inappropriate comments and over-reached…”

To which, I reply quoting Ms Collins herself, when she attacked  Metiria Turei;

“…Oh my goodness isn’t she a sensitive little sausage.”

Karma.  In spades.

 

Postscript #2

Judith Collin’s vindictive attack on journalist Katie Bradford (for which Collins has since apologised) is not the first instance of  critics of this government coming under attack by either politicians, or those connected with the government;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

March 2012

ACC Claimant, Bronwyn’s Pullar’s personal details are leaked to the media and to a right wing blogger, who has been given her full files, emails, etc. ACC Minister, Judith Collins, and her office are implicated.

November 2012

Dr Mike Joy, environmentalist, scientist, academic. Attacked by both John Key and right wing “media relations/publicist”, Mark Unsworth, for daring to tell the public the truth about New Zealand’s polluted waterways.  On 21 November, Unsworth sent a vicious email to Dr Joy that showed the state of mind of Unsworth to be bordering on unhinged.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

May, 2014

Katie Bradford, Parliamentary Press Gallery, and TV1 journalist.  Judith Collins makes allegations to a TV3 journalist, that  Ms Bradford asked the Minister to intervene on behalf of her (Bradford’s) husband to join the police force. This is refuted by Ms Bradford as untrue. Collins later apologises.

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References

TV3: Collins says Oravida visit not conflict of interest

Parliament: Justice, Minister—Statements

Fairfax media: MFAT briefing requested before Oravida dinner

Otago Daily Times: Peters reveals details of tea tape

TV3: Judith Collins takes swing at Press Gallery journalist

TVNZ: Judith Collins to take time off amid Oravida storm

NZ Herald: Oravida gave another $30,000 to National

Polity:  Even more new, damning evidence on Collins

NZ Herald:  Pansy Wong resigns as MP

Radio NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

RadioNZ: Judith Collins to take ‘refresher’ break

Additional

TV3:  Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Cabinet Manual:  Interests of family, whānau, and close associates

Previous related blogposts

Taking responsibility, National-style

 


 

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Judith Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2014.

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  1. Steve (@nza1)
    13 May 2014 at 10:57 am

    The Wong resignation appears to have been due to her husband doing business while travelling on taxpayer money. Do we know who paid for Collins’ husband’s travel? If it wasn’t the taxpayer, I’m not sure the two are equivalent at all (in terms of the reason that report gave for Wong’s resignation). The Wong report doesn’t mention any meetings she attended with her husband.

    I make the point completely separately and aside from the circumstances around Judith Collins.

  2. toronto ex-pat
    18 May 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I can smell the stench of political corruption all the way here to Canada. It’s incomprehensible to me that National is still riding high in the polls and I have to wonder what Key and his ministers have to do to earn voter’s oppobrium. Luckily I still have the right to vote and I’ll be making sure I cast it on election day. I sure as hell don’t want Key’s grinning face meeting me at the airport when I return home next year.

  3. Frank Kern
    20 May 2014 at 4:20 am

    As a National voter all my life, I see nothing wrong in promoting our country’s businesses. We need profitable businesses if we’re going to create jobs and raise incomes. Government can’t do it unless they bloat out the state sector even more.

    Having said that, Collins screwed up. She should never have gone within a hundred kilometres of her husband’s business. It’s just not a good look and she can’t get away with it. Her career is over, Dead Man Walking is the phrase they use in the States.

  4. Streetwise
    20 May 2014 at 8:46 am

    I don’t get it. This is the most corrupt government this country has ever had and the public still rate them highly in the polls?? What the hell are they putting in our water supplies??

    I can’t wait to get to the voting booths in September!!

    Frank Kern – maybe it’s time to look at changing who you vote for? The pattern of ministerial corruption seems pretty pervasive throughout the National Party.

  5. Theodore
    20 May 2014 at 7:54 pm

    ” We need profitable businesses if we’re going to create jobs and raise incomes. Government can’t do it unless they bloat out the state sector even more.”

    Frank Kern – you’ll find that the myth of the “bloated state sector is just that ,a myth. We need police, nurse, doctors, teachers, social workers, analysts, etc, to make our state sector work efficiently. Otherwise we’re wasting our tax dollars if we’re under-staffing, under-resourcing, and burning out all those people who make a modern state work. You’d be the first to complain if police couldn’t investigate a burglary in your home if they were tied up with paper-work.

  6. Simon S
    2 June 2014 at 7:50 am

    That was a damning track record of National’s harassment of dissidents. I have a mate whose partner works for one of the National ministers and the rorts that that go on would make you want to vomit. The Collins thing is just a very visible tip of the shit-iceberg.

  7. Samwise
    3 February 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Well, the corrupt woman is back. God help us that New Zealand voters elect someone so patently corrupt as her.

  1. 14 May 2014 at 8:36 am
    Priss
  2. 13 September 2014 at 8:35 pm
  3. 23 May 2015 at 8:01 am

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