Looks like an interesting week of drawn out misery for someone. Rob Salmond at Polity again.
I do not want to talk about Judith Collins’ “private” dinner. There are plenty of people making astute points about her impropriety there already. Instead, I want to draw attention to another damning part of last week’s Friday afternoon OIA-dump.
It shows that Judith Collins’ visit to Oravida was an official, Ministerial visit specifically designed by the New Zealand government to improve Oravida’s, and only Oravida’s, business opportunities in China.That is something Judith Collins is strictly forbidden from doing in her Ministerial capacity, because her husband is a director of the company.
This is further evidence that Collins has used taxpayer funds to help her husband’s business, and that she has spent the last two months lying about that fact to her boss, the Parliament, and the people of New Zealand. She must resign.
Here is the relevant part of the OIA-dump (pdf as well – see pp 30-31):
Meeting Brief: Oravida
Date and Time
23 October 1530-1630
Visit and Tour of Oravida Facilities
Purpose / objective
To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China
Agenda items / event outline
1445 Depart Bureau of Justice for Oravida Offices
1530 Arrive at Office
Met by Oravida Management
Visit and tour of Oravida facilities
Afternoon tea / chance to meet management and employees
1630 Depart for Pudong International Airport
Background of organization / institution
Oravida New Zealand Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oravida Ltd., a diversified company which owns a number of businesses in different sectors. The company is owned by Mr Deyi (Stone ) Shi and has two directors, Julia Xu and David Wong-Tung.
Chinese side to be confirmed
First, far from being a “pop in” “20-minute stop” for a “cup of tea” or “glass of milk” “on the way to the airport,” as Collins has claimed in Parliament, this was an almost two hour excursion, with four officials in tow, going away from the airport, complete with a full hour-long official Ministerial programme at Oravida. Collins’ statements to Parliament have been simple lies, told to conceal an ugly, corrupt truth.
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.
This document shows that was also a lie. The meeting with Oravida was neither informal, spontaneous, nor on the way to the airport. The meeting was planned by officials long in advance, and was ticked off by Collins as part of her Ministerial itinerary before she left New Zealand.
Third, when she ticked off the meeting with Oravida, Collins agreed to head a New Zealand government team whose explicit, agreed purpose was “To increase the profile of [Oravida].”
That is the critical point.
Collins is prohibited from using her Ministerial position to “increase the profile” of firms from which her husband, David Wong-Tung, may derive a benefit. She breached the Cabinet Manual in participating in this visit knowing full well, in advance, its purpose and the conflict it entails. Hell, MFAT even named Collins’ husband as a director right there on the page, in case she needed any reminding!
Here is the relevant section of the Cabinet Manual (section 2.62):
A conflict may arise if people close to a Minister, such as a Minister’s family, whanau, or close associates, might derive, or be perceived as deriving, some personal, financial, or other benefit from a decision or action by the Minister or the government.
So, let’s tick off the elements:
Does David Wong-Tung benefit in any way from the success of Oravida New Zealand Ltd, which he serves as a director?
Did Judith Collins take an action that might benefit Oravida, and therefore David Wong-Tung?
Yes. She visited its facility in Shanghai in order to raise its profile.
Was that action taken in her Ministerial capacity?
Yes. Her visit was an official engagement, arranged by MFAT, with on-site support from four diplomatic officials.
Did the Minister know that her action would benefit Oravida, and therefore David Wong-Tung?
Yes. She was informed in advance and in writing that the purpose of the visit was to increase Oravida’s local profile in China.
I anticipate another dreadful, embarrassing performance in Parliament from Collins this week in light of this issue and the others she is facing this week. And I expect her resignation will be announced early next week so it can be immediately drowned out by the Budget.