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It’s the little things …

Written By: - Date published: 8:40 am, April 22nd, 2014 - 36 comments
Categories: john key, Judith Collins, national, same old national - Tags:

Grumpy Judith Collins

This morning on Morning Report Judith Collins is reported as acknowledging that something that she said to Parliament last Thursday was not true. Last week she said she did not remember discussing matters with the New Zealand Ambassador to China, this morning she said that she had discussed matters with the Ambassador and said there was nothing to report. It makes you wonder why she felt that she had to report to the Ambassador the fact that she had supposedly had a private dinner.

One other aspect of this jars with me.  On Tuesday April 15, 2014 shortly after 6 pm TV3 reported on the letter of August 6, 2013 written by Oravida to Tim Groser and Nathan Guy requesting that the Government work with Oravida on border issues.  Two months later Collins had a private dinner with senior Oravida personnel and a Chinese border official.  Collins would have us believe that importation issues were not discussed although her lack of knowledge of the Chinese language would raise doubts about this particular assertion.  And her refusal to name the Chinese Official or even state who he works for has allowed considerable speculation on his role to occur.  It is at least possible that he could help Oravida with its border problems.

The next morning, April 15,  Collins was interviewed on Checkpoint by Mary Wilson.  She said clearly that she had not seen the letter until that day.  TV3 broke the story the night before.  You would have thought that she would have been asked about the letter as soon as the OIA request was received and it seems very strange that she had not seen the letter until the day after it was put into the public arena.  At the very least I would have thought that her staff would have been ordered to track down a copy of the letter as soon as the TV3 story was broadcast.

Collins was interviewed by Suzy Ferguson this morning about her memory lapse.  She claimed there was nothing to see and that the whole thing was a witch hunt.  She said that she misinterpreted the question and thought that Robertson’s question was asking her if she had immediately after the dinner had discussions with the Ambassador.

The transcript of the original question and answer is here.  The text is as follows:

Grant Robertson: What discussions, if any, did she have after her dinner in Beijing with the New Zealand Ambassador to China about the dinner or the attendees who were at it?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: It was a private dinner. I went to bed.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I am going to invite the member to ask that question again.

Grant Robertson: What discussions, if any, did she have after her dinner with the New Zealand Ambassador to China about the dinner or the attendees who were there?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I cannot remember any discussions.

The question was pretty clear and straight.  If Collins had said that she did have discussions with the Ambassador then the next question would undoubtedly have been if it was a private dinner why did she feel the need to discuss it with the Ambassador?

John Key was interviewed and asked about his previous statement that he would not like to be in Ms Collins shoes if she made another mistake.  As Karol pointed out he waffled around the subject.  He then attacked Labour saying that it was playing politics about an “apparent” conflict of interest.  A more clear example of an actual conflict of interest I cannot imagine.  He claimed that the Ambassador did not attend the dinner because it was a “private dinner” and that the discussion with the Minister was only a “cursory conversation”.  He then claimed that all the information was disclosed to the Cabinet Office.

Espiner asked Key to rate Collins handling of the issue.  Key tried to talk about the Labour Party.  He eventually said that he had absolute confidence in Collins and that he was quite satisfied with her handling of the issue.  He also said that his role was not to be a political commentator and that was Espiner’s role.  I hope that every reporter reminds Key of this statement the next time he talks about the inner workings of the Labour Party.

Guyon Espiner’s and Suzy Ferguson’s questioning of Key and Collins were direct and forthright.  Well done.  Keep it up.

When Parliament sits in two weeks time I am certain there will be a further series of questions of Collins.  Presuming she is still a Minister …

36 comments on “It’s the little things …”

  1. Sacha 1

    Great strong interviewing. Collins seems alternately annoyed and self-pitying at being held accountable for her slipperiness. The PM is naturally playing along with the whole ‘nothing to see here’ schtick.

    Interesting how Collins has named everyone else at her “private” dinner except the Chinese govt official..

  2. yeshe 2

    Hi Micky .. great summation, thx ….. you might like to correct the date leading your third paragraph to April 16 from April 15; also seems some text is missing immediately after the audio link lower down ??

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Cheers. The text was obliterated because of the type of link that I used. I have changed that now. And right you are about the date.

  3. Red Rosa 3

    Mmmm…we need a fact check on the early stages of this story.

    As I recall, when it first surfaced weeks ago, Collins with the usual patronizing sneer dismissed any idea of a serious Oravida meal and said she ‘may have had a cup of tea on the way to the airport’.

    Can anyone track this down?

    But as the days go on, the whole idea of an admitted liar (maybe that’s too strong, should be ‘caught out being economical with the truth and since fessed up) Minister of Justice (choke) is starting to resonate badly with the NZ public.

    Maybe the most entertaining aspect of the whole affair is her China lecture on ‘Corruption’. You can imagine now the polite smiles from those who listened to her, if asked about her subsequent behaviour….

    And is hubby actually using the ministerial car as a commuter vehicle? Should he be paying FBT on this? No wonder Collins is into the crocodile tears on the ‘Attacks on Family’.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        …and the dinner and the golf game and the fifty six thousand dollar payment for services rendered and the Prime Minister’s product promotion and MFAT’s office leasing arrangements and the National Party’s sale of ministers and legislation and Oravida’s use of a government minister like bloodstock being paraded in front of an investor.

        • RedBaronCV 3.1.1.1

          I missed the bit about the MFAT office leasing arrangements and have any of the players in this or other NACT donors got a passport under the passport selling scheme to the rich?

        • Murray Olsen 3.1.1.2

          Thanks OAB. I now have the picture of a Charolais cow with Gusher’s head being lead around a ring by Whalespew stuck in my head. I had been looking forward to a peaceful night’s sleep.

      • Red Rosa 3.1.2

        Thanks karol.

        I note the 80km detour ‘on the way to the airport’ for the cup of tea.

        Tricky little miss, isn’t she? And Key shows no signs of backing down in support. Is his pic really still running on the Oravida website?

    • Hami Shearlie 3.2

      Exactly – Old Jude hasn’t cared about the families of people she has attacked, David Benson Pope’s family, Meteiria Turei’s family, many people on ACC and their families etc etc!! And now she has the GALL to bleat about attacks on HER family who were involved with Orivida, and who are under the microscope thanks to the unethical behaviour of Old Jude herself – SHE caused the intrusion into her family – The cheek of this woman to blame other parties and the media is absolutely gob-smacking!!!

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    The Minister of Corruption is angry and upset that her corruption is in the public eye, especially since it calls attention to the Prime Minister’s corruption.

  5. Souvlaki 5

    Keep it up you guys !! The fact that you come across as misogynist, vindictive, spiteful and nasty to most people in this country seems beyond your comprehension. A complete blindspot of self awareness in the psychiatric sense. Just Like Prasads crusade against’the Domestic Goddess!’

    Seriously, keep going !!!

    [lprent: Needless to say this fool doesn’t provide any examples and gives a classic troll flame starter. Added to auto spam.

    If you can’t argue your case and have to simply make dumb assertions without any supporting statements, then don’t expect to be able to wank on this site. Try Whaleoil – it is the local stupid testosterone heaven. ]

    • Clemgeopin 5.1

      Souvlaki, if a Labour minister in a Labour government had behaved in this manner, would you hold the same view? Would Key, Collins and National party people not attack Labour?

    • Paul 5.2

      Please go back to your friends from the extremist right wing blogs you came from.

    • f dx 5.3

      ‘misogynist, vindictive, spiteful and nasty’

      Yep, that pretty much sums up Collins and most of the national cabinet.

  6. Patrick 6

    Given the difficulty Collins had understanding a simple straightforward question, it is quite reasonable that much could have been talked about at the dinner that she “misunderstood”.

  7. veutoviper 7

    As the title of this post suggests, “It’s the little things …” that give further insight/clues in the Join the Dots puzzle of this ongoing Oravida saga.

    Two other media articles over the last week that provide further clues/insight are well worth reading.

    First, Vernon Small’s Stuff article on April 17 includes the following:

    Oravida’s continued use of pictures of politicians from Key down on its website and in its advertising, despite the ongoing political fallout, shows how much it values these overt displays of its political links.

    And what was the reaction of the two ministries to Oravida’s plea? Regardless of their response, that plea puts Collins’ “private” but pre-arranged dinner in a different light, though she insists no “business” was discussed and the topic of conversation that night was New Zealand as a tourist destination – not the fallout from Fonterra’s false botulism alarm. Moreover, Collins has denied even knowing Oravida had a problem getting its goods into China. But there are other queries floating in the diplomatic ether.

    Ad Feedback Perhaps the most crucial is ambassador Carl Worker’s reasons for not attending the dinner, as well as his attitude to Collins’ attendance.

    Presumably Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully know and are comfortable.

    But insiders suggest Worker at least thought it unwise to accept the invitation. If that is true, then that would reflect on the wisdom of Collins attending. And if there was no business transacted, why did she brief Worker?

    And if, as has been suggested, revealing the name of the official would put him at risk, then the same question marks hover over the wisdom of her attending the dinner in the first place.

    Attempts to access Worker’s views and other data about the Oravida meetings, via the Official Information Act, drew an immediate stonewalling from officials who claimed a 20-day extension to the normal 20-day deadline.

    All that does, though, is string out the political torture. Key and McCully must be in a position to release the pertinent information now, rather than wait another month or so.

    Second, this article by Adam Bennett on Sat, April 19 in which Collins’ takes a slightly different approach to spinning her temporary memory loss than she did this morning on Morning Report – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11240640

    I won’t provide links, but the comments now up to the numerous Herald ‘opinion’ pieces over the long weekend by Armstrong, O’Sullivan et al are ,enlightening, with the vast majority of the comments (and likes) unconvinced to say the least by Collins’ explanations etc.

  8. Anne 8

    Methinks another ‘contrived’ scandal re-an opposition party member (perhaps Cunliffe again) is about to hit the public bang, smack in the eye. It will be interesting to establish who the conduit will be this time because I suspect it might not be Slater. He’s tarnished goods at the moment.

    • RedBaronCV 8.1

      But maybe not from the TV who may be sensing a change of owner come the election. Time for a few leaked emails about foreign media ownership and deaggregation of outlets

      • Anne 8.1.1

        Yep. I get the feeling both TV1 and TV3 are not at all sure of the outcome, and are hedging their bets. There’s been a subtle change in attitude in recent weeks. (having said that Gower or someone will now do a hatchet job on the left – :) ). They know full well their respective polls are crap.

    • Tracey 8.2

      you mean like if shane jones to money from peratas husband or an oil and gas board member.

      god labour, get rid of you national party mps.

      vote green party if you want genuine labour values

      • Paul 8.2.1

        No wonder the Herald and the rest of the corporate media keep promoting the Jones brand of Labour…notice all the puff pieces he gets.
        He’s their insurance policy if all their propaganda does not work in September.

  9. Rogue Trooper 9

    prevaricate, to deviate (on the way to the airport, for example ;) ): to shift about from side to side: to evade the truth : to quibble. etc.

    John Steinbeck suggested not that power corrupts, but fear, perhaps fear of losing power. ” No matter how corrupt, greedy and heartless our government, our corporations, media, , and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful”- Kurt Vonnegutt

  10. yeshe 10

    OMG !!! Just how much money Oravida and associates including Crafar owners have paid to Key and National Party .. absolute MUST READ from Frank MacSkasy a year ago … so worth a read again in light of Collins current corruption perceptions …

    this story could have very, very long legs imho … may it be so !

    http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/doing-the-business-with-john-key-heres-how-part-rua/

  11. RedBaronCV 11

    Looks like aroiund $400k my my

  12. fisiani 12

    Please keep up this attack on Judith Collins for the next 150 days. The public are right behind her critics and realise that this issue will bring down not only Ms Collins but the whole government.

    • Paul 12.1

      Have a look at the comments sections below any MSM article.
      I can see you tolerate corruption by your mates in the Nats, but ordinary folk people don’t like corruption anywhere.

  13. Ross 14

    Don’t forget that Collins has said she knows what it must have felt like to be one of the accused in the Salem witch trials!

    Judith, the accused in the witch trials were all executed or died in prison…

    Her knowledge of history is about as good as her description of that dinner.

  14. Penny Bright 15

    FYI

    22 April 2014

    Minister for Justice
    Judith Collins

    ‘Open Letter’ /OIA request to NZ Minister for Justice Judith Collins – what was the involvement of the NZ Ambassador to China (Carl Worker) in your ‘private’ Oravida dinner?

    Dear Minister,

    Please provide the following information which confirms;

    1) Who invited Carl Worker, the NZ Ambassador to China, to this Oravida ‘private’ dinner?

    2) Why the NZ Ambassador to China, Carl Worker, declined to attend this Oravida ‘private’ dinner.

    3) Who paid for the ‘dinner’ that you ate?

    4) Why was your ‘senior advisor’ Margaret Malcolm present at this Oravida ‘private’ dinner, and in what capacity?

    5) In what capacity did you, Minister of Justice Judith Collins speak “.. to the ambassador about the dinner the following day and told him “nothing had occurred that was untoward and it was just a very private friendly dinner that was short”.

    ie: As a private citizen, or as the Minister for Justice?

    6) Did you, Judith Collins speak to Carl Worker in his capacity as NZ Ambassador to China, regarding this Oravida ‘private’ dinner?

    7) Is it your normal ‘custom and practice’ to take notes at ‘private’ dinner meetings with ‘friends’?

    8) How do you draw a ‘line in the sand’ between your rights to privacy as a citizen, and the public’s right to transparency in your public role as Minister for Justice?

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11240640

    “Justice Minister Judith Collins has recovered her memory after telling Parliament she could not recall whether she had briefed New Zealand’s ambassador to Beijing about her Oravida dinner.
    …..
    In Parliament’s last session before a two-week recess, she again refused to identify the official she dined with, said she did not know of Oravida’s difficulties in the Chinese market before the dinner, and said she could not remember whether she had briefed ambassador to Beijing Carl Worker about the dinner.

    She told the Weekend Herald she didn’t believe she had spoken about the dinner to Mr Worker beyond an initial discussion beforehand when he said he would not attend.

    But on Thursday evening, she said she had checked her notes and believed she had spoken to the ambassador about the dinner the following day and told him “nothing had occurred that was untoward and it was just a very private friendly dinner that was short”.

    She said Mr Worker had asked her on the day of the dinner to just let him know if there was anything that he needed to know about.
    …….”

    Yours sincerely,

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption / anti-privatisation Public Watchdog’

    Attendee: 2009 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference
    Attendee: 2010 Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference
    Attendee: 2013 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate, polling 4th with 11,723 votes campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region

    http://www.pennybrightformayor.org.nz

  15. Tigger 16

    Key wants her gone – he told a high up party official that recently, or so the official claims (side note: people, if you gossip in a public place people can hear you then they tell people like me who they know are not fans of the govt). But he’s been told she has to stay because they can’t lose their best female MP at this time nor another senior MP. Key is being the smarter one here – if this or other scandals drag Collins further down she will need to go. Best now rather than in four months.

  16. Ian 17

    Judith Who ???

  17. Penny Bright 18

    22 April 2014

    NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs
    Murray McCully

    ‘Open Letter’ /OIA request to NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully – what was the involvement of the NZ Ambassador to China (Carl Worker) in Judith Collins’ ‘private’ Oravida dinner?

    Dear Minister,

    Please provide the following information which confirms;

    1) Who invited Carl Worker, the NZ Ambassador to China, to this Oravida ‘private’ dinner?

    2) Why the NZ Ambassador to China, Carl Worker, declined to attend this Oravida ‘private’ dinner.

    3) In what capacity did Minister of Justice Judith Collins speak “.. to the ambassador about the dinner the following day and told him “nothing had occurred that was untoward and it was just a very private friendly dinner that was short”.

    ie: As a private citizen, or as the Minister for Justice?

    4) Did Judith Collins speak to Carl Worker in his capacity as NZ Ambassador to China, regarding this Oravida ‘private’ dinner?

    5) Please provide copies of ALL information, ‘briefing notes’ / emails / notes of telephone messages/ memos / minutes /reports (and the like)
    between Judith Collins (Minister for Justice) and Carl Worker (NZ Ambassador to China) relating to this matter.

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11240640

    “Justice Minister Judith Collins has recovered her memory after telling Parliament she could not recall whether she had briefed New Zealand’s ambassador to Beijing about her Oravida dinner.
    …..
    In Parliament’s last session before a two-week recess, she again refused to identify the official she dined with, said she did not know of Oravida’s difficulties in the Chinese market before the dinner, and said she could not remember whether she had briefed ambassador to Beijing Carl Worker about the dinner.

    She told the Weekend Herald she didn’t believe she had spoken about the dinner to Mr Worker beyond an initial discussion beforehand when he said he would not attend.

    But on Thursday evening, she said she had checked her notes and believed she had spoken to the ambassador about the dinner the following day and told him “nothing had occurred that was untoward and it was just a very private friendly dinner that was short”.

    She said Mr Worker had asked her on the day of the dinner to just let him know if there was anything that he needed to know about.
    …….”

    Yours sincerely,

    Penny Bright

    …………………
    ………………….

    ‘Anti-corruption / anti-privatisation Public Watchdog’

    Attendee: 2009 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference
    Attendee: 2010 Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference
    Attendee: 2013 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate, polling 4th with 11,723 votes campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region

    http://www.pennybrightformayor.org.nz

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