Judith Collins is making a play for support among her fellow National ministers and trying to turn them against Key following Key’s contemptuous attitude to their privacy in the Henry Inquiry. At the Privileges Committee hearing into the Henry Inquiry yesterday, Collins and sidekick Anne Tolley asked why Henry thought he could look at their emails without their permission. Why indeed.
The answer is that Wayne Eagleson, Key’s chief of staff of whom Key says ‘if someone talks to him, they talk to me’, told Henry on several occasions that he had the authority to authorise and was authorising Henry to examine National Ministers’ emails.
Here’s the Herald’s account:
Questioning Mr Henry, Ms Collins indicated she was surprised to learn that ministers’ metadata was obtained by the inquiry without her direct approval…
…Under the inquiry’s terms of reference which were approved by Mr Key, the inquiry sought ministers’ email and phone logs which were held by the Parliamentary Service. After some initial resistance those records were provided, following the intervention of Mr Key’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson.
After the hearings yesterday, Key hit back at Collins:
Mr Key says anyone who objected to the inquiry’s “basic” intrusion “wouldn’t make it as a minister”.
He even lashed out at Collins in Question Time:
Grant Robertson : Does he agree with Judith Collins’ statement today that it was “chilling” to discover that the Henry inquiry had treated the privacy of Ministers’ metadata information in a “contemptuous way”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I would not want to comment on a full quote that I have not seen, but what I can say is that as Prime Minister I put out the terms of reference, and if any Minister did not like them, they were happy to complain about it.
Oh, yes, make no mistake. Collins is using this opportunity to bring ministers on to her side and distance them from Key, whose increasing arrogance is not limited to his external enemies but also extends to anyone within his camp who dares to question him.