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Judith Collins: fudging evidence

Written By: - Date published: 10:25 am, April 26th, 2014 - 32 comments
Categories: accountability, alcohol, democracy under attack, john key, Judith Collins, same old national, slippery - Tags: ,

Judith Colllins and John Key are probably toasting Shane Jones (and Murray McCully) right now: they Oravida conflict of interest controversy wasw pushed off the front pages when the heat was really.  But information and marginalised news don’t easily disappear off the online record – including from Wikipedia.  Collins also tried to slip a fast into the public arena as it turned to focus on ANZAC Day – a press release notifying of the  delay of her decision on alcohol pricing: a statement that ignores the evidence and conclusions in a pricing review.

Judith Collins no cluedo

Last Wednesday morning, Adam Bennett reported in the NZ Herald that things weren’t looking so great for the minister. Collins was ducking and diving in response to seemingly contradictory statements about whether or not her dinner with Oradiva people in China, was a private event or not.

It seems the NZ Ambassador to China, Carl Worker did think there were potential political issues that may have been raised at the dinner – ones he wanted to be informed about

Ms Collins has refused to answer questions about the dinner late last year, attended by her friends and Oravida bosses Stone Shi and Julia Xu, on the grounds it was a private dinner.

But after denying in Parliament last week that she had spoken about the dinner with Mr Worker, she later told the Herald that she had not only discussed it with him afterwards, but he had also asked her to keep him informed of what was discussed.


Prime Minister John Key yesterday said he didn’t have details of Ms Collins’ discussions with Mr Worker about the dinner.

He said that if it was proved Ms Collins misled Parliament over her discussions she would have to formally correct her answers.

Surely this is an inadequate response from a PM in the light of the possibility of one of his ministers having misled parliament. Key, for whatever reason, has been in support of Collins and claimed she may just have misheard the question in the House.  So the whole issue gets buried among the fudging and denials.

Meanwhile, over at Wikipedia, the Judith Collins page is being edited by someone to fudge the strength of the allegations against Collins.  Roger Brooking has been keeping a watch on it, and posted his observations on his blog last Sunday. Brooking states:

 She’s doing her best to cover up the identity of  the Chinese government official who attended her now infamous dinner party in China – good luck with that!

But is she also trying to cover up the cover up as well? Her wikipedia page has a Reputation section about her ‘hardball’ manner and ‘take no prisoners’ attitude.  But once Oravida is mentioned, the Wikipedia description of events begins to sour.

Brooking then goes on to catalogue the deletions:

This sentence has just been deleted: “It subsequently emerged that Collins travelled 30km in the opposite direction to the airport in order to drop in.”  And the following paragraph, which goes into more detail about the Chinese government official, has been deleted entirely – by an editor calling himself (or herself) ‘Nick-D’. Who could that be?

This is part of the deleted section – a section that charts the unfolding of the Oravida controversy:

Amid on-going accusations of corruption and a conflict of interest from Winston Peters and Grant Robertson, Collins began avoiding the media waiting for her in the halls of parliament. Because her husband is a director of Oravida, she claimed the media were attacking her family but also said the attacks had ‘humanised’ her. She told the Weekend Herald: “I’ve never been seen as someone who was particularly human.”

Judith Collins seems to have generally become a little sensitive about how she is seen by the public. Collins, in her role as Justice Minister, revealed a non-decision on alcohol pricing, just before public and media attention swung towards ANZAC Day.  On Thursday there was an announcement on her delay of a decision on alcohol pricing. Olivia Wannan reports today on Stuff:

Justice Minister Judith Collins’ decision to wait and see on a policy that could significantly reduce alcohol harm has been called election-year cowardice.

Minimum alcohol pricing – a scheme focused on cut-price liquor such as cask wine – could save the country an estimated $624 million in alcohol harm over a decade, a Justice Ministry report found.

The scheme, already established in Canada and voted through by the Scottish Parliament, sets a base price for alcoholic beverages based on the number of standard drinks per bottle.

The Justice Ministry report concluded “overall, any price increase will effectively reduce harmful alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm”.

And yet, Collins seems to be trying to ignore this evidence:

But Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said the Government knew that increasing prices worked, which was why it was now targeting tobacco by bumping up taxes year by year.


Williams believed Collins’ claim that minimum pricing would unfairly affect moderate drinkers was “bollocks”.

“It’s designed to curb that really cheap access that makes alcohol available at pocket-money prices for young people.”

Trying to slip this under the public radar on Thursday, indicates Collins judged her decision to be either dodgy or unpopular. Surely this is a bit of a come down for a politician who thrives on media attention?




32 comments on “Judith Collins: fudging evidence”

  1. Clean_power 1

    The decision ought to be popular with responsible people who knows where to stop drinking and who should have to pay for the excesses of a minority.
    A sensible decision by Collins not to pander to the killjoys.

    • amirite 1.1

      clean power, people who are drinking ‘responsibly’ as you say, a $1-2-3 more per drink is not going to break their bank.
      If anything, this report by the MoJ should have included all RTDs as well.

      • Clean_power 1.1.1

        No, amirite. You are behaving like a control-freak who want to tell others what to do. If so, you should extend your perverse “logic” to sugar, salt, fats, bread and so on.

        You, like other elitists, seem to know better, don’t you?

        • amirite

          It worked for ciggies, idiot.
          People who eat too much salt, sugar, fat etc don’t tend to go vandalise shops, beat up their missus or slam their can into a sober driver.
          And it’s not your goddamn right to get pissed and do all those things. Because an innocent person is on the receiving end of your stupidity.

    • Bill 1.2

      Done properly, minimum alcohol pricing only impacts the cost of loss leading alcohol sales at supermarkets (overly discounted wine) and, possibly, RTDs.

      It has absolutely no impact on pub prices or the price on the vast majority of alcohol at retail outlets.

      Nothing really ‘kill-joy’ about it. What it would do is kill cynical marketing of low cost, shitty product.

      • Psycho Milt 1.2.1

        Yes, if done properly (a big if, with the wowser lobby constantly yapping for it not to be done properly), minimum pricing can affect only loss-leader sales. However, you missed the bit where you explain how it’s any of your or the government’s business if someone is willing to sell me something at a discount.

        • karol

          Alcohol as a loss leader in supermarkets is cynical. A big problem is that they compensate somewhat by keeping the prices relatively high on necessities like fruit and veges. And,this then impacts on pushing up the prices at fruit and vege shops.

          • BM

            I for one support our cheap booze supplying overlords.

            Long may they reign.

            Also thank goodness we’ve got politicians such as Judith Collins who’s strong enough to tell the wowser bores to take GTFO.

            • Paul

              The usual incoherent rant.

            • David H

              What’s this?? BullshitMan sounds just a 17 year old alkie on Pocketmoney. Because any sane ADULT that has seen the damage that Alcohol can do will despair at yet another lost opportunity to rein in the cheap booze merchants.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The government certainly should be regulating a practice that causes society harm.

          • Psycho Milt

            And it does – useful stuff like licencing the producers and suppliers, applying standards, proscribing stuff like drunk driving. Telling supermarkets what discounts they’re allowed to apply doesn’t fall into the category of “useful.”

            • Draco T Bastard

              Yes, actually, it does as it reduces the harm done by alcohol. That’s what the studies show. You may not like it but that’s just you being selfish.

  2. Please don’t present anti-alcohol lobbyists as objective commentators on alcohol policy – they’re not. They start from the position that getting drunk is a bad thing, which makes their studies straightforward exercises in confirmation bias. Williams, Sellman et al are just more liberal faces of the War on Drugs – the politics may be less conservative, but the authoritarian inclinations are the same. It pains me to say it, but for once Collins is doing the right thing.

  3. captain hook 3

    clean power, it should be noted that some people do know better. especially the people who benefit from selling legalised addictive substances and those who sell food products injurious to good health.
    Now you dont seem to know anything, do you?

  4. captain hook 4

    anyway apart from the interjections from the national party toadies Judith Collins cant lie straight in bed.
    Her total MO is to bully and lie and to hell with anyone that gets in the way. Its time for her and these other lowbrow thugs to get the push.
    They aren’t interested in government per se. They are only interested in what they can extract for themselves.

    • karol 4.1

      And they are currently breathing a sigh of relief from the pressure on Collins & Key over Oravida. Meanwhile, someone out there is trying to revise the public record and downplay the controversy.

  5. Jrobin 5

    Clean Power, tell me how many teenagers do you know? It is the damage that cheap alcohol is causing to them not concerns of puritanical wowsers , that is driving these concerns. Your attitude could be seen as selfish, pricing does limit teen drinking and traffic accidents. The research is very clear on ths point. Are we a community or a bunch of of indulgent consumers?

    • ianmac 6.1

      Crikey joe90! Do you mean that ORAVIDA and CRAFAR Farms and NATIONAL PARTY and DONATIONS and therefore Collins/Key are all directly connected.
      Surely not because the perception or worse of collusion/corruption would reach even the least interested public and therefore voters. Still, I suppose it is all legal but the Perception could be very interesting couldn’t it?

      • joe90 6.1.1

        Well Ian, we’ve just witnessed the ruling party use taxpayer funds to pay off make an opposition member an offer he couldn’t refuse and not a squeak was heard so anything goes I suppose.

        • RedLogix

          Yes joe. They are showing their own people that they believe in nothing and stand for nothing except their own power.

          ” Empire often crumble when their own people become disillusioned and disgusted with massive discrepancy between what the ruling elites say and what they do and as a result, it is not so much that the Empire is faced with formidable enemies as it is the fact that nobody is willing to stand up – nevermind die – in defense of it. “

  6. TightyRighty 7

    So those who can only afford bargain basement liqour after all the other costs of living get affects the most? This makes all the outrage about gst to 15% so phoney. In your haste to deny one sector of society a cheap way of abusing alcohol, you completely remove it from the grasp of those who enjoy it in moderation because that’s all they can afford to.

    Small wonder authoritarian lefties are considered intellectual lightweights. Or nanny staters. Or middle class pseudo intellectual know it alls who can afford better so assume everyone else can.

    • Murray Olsen 7.1

      You’ll be alongside us fighting for an immediate 30% rise in wages, and 50% in benefits then Tighty? Can’t have anyone missing out on that cheap crap you drink, can we? With the rises, they might even be able to buy food as well, at the prices that loss leading on alcohol and soft drinks pushes it up to.

  7. red blooded 8

    So, did you not notice the comment above, about how loss leading alcohol prices affect prices of other goods like fruit and vegetables? Or maybe it just doesn’t matter to you that many people can’t afford regular supplies of these necessities… Oh, and let’s remember that the rest of us pay for the effects of alcohol abuse in a myriad of ways (traffic accidents. health costs, policing, family support systems…). On top of that, we also pay for the health problems caused by lack of adequate nutrition. Still, so long as you’re alright, mate, I guess we have nothing to worry about.

  8. So, did you not notice the comment above, about how loss leading alcohol prices affect prices of other goods like fruit and vegetables?

    There are instances in which how supermarkets choose to price their goods is the government’s business (eg cartel pricing). Offering product discounts isn’t one of those instances.

    Oh, and let’s remember that the rest of us pay for the effects of alcohol abuse in a myriad of ways (traffic accidents. health costs, policing, family support systems…)

    It always depresses me when leftists present user-pays arguments about the health system. Do we really want to go down a cost-recovery path for health care? It’s bad enough that we’ve done it with tobacco, without chucking alcohol in there as well. Do that, and what can you say when the right-wingers want fat people, lazy people, drug addicts, fornicators, sports players and sundry others to cover the costs of their treatment?

  9. Populuxe1 10

    No, I don’t think that’s what happened at Wikipedia at all – the account of events has been streamlined, certainly, but the facts haven’t changed, nor the have the original cited sources. If the Wikipedia community considered it any kind of breach, they would be all over it by now because of the high profile. Brooking is a paranoid nutter. On Wikipedia style grounds I would question the relevance of 30km either way when one has travelled from the other side of the planet, and the deleted paragraph didn’t really contribute anything more to the summary of the case and gave it undue weight compared to the rest of the article. It’s an encyclopedia entry, not a PolSci essay.

    • Murray Olsen 10.1

      Given my own experience with Wikipedia and Paula Bennett’s page, I believe Roger’s version. You, on the other hand, are a right wing nutter trying valiantly to disguise the fact. It seems very likely that the National Party has people who are paid to keep an eye on any changes made to politician’s pages. All I did was add how Paula had raised her daughter with help from her parents and a benefit, had tried working, but had found it far too difficult. All with citations. It was removed three times, with each argument more spurious than the last, and I gave up.

      • Populuxe1 10.1.1

        I think you should read Wikipedia’s POV guidelines, and the whole No True Scotscam shtick of accusing anyone who doesn’t buy one hundred percent into whatever you think being left is supposed to be of being some sort of right wing spy is tiresome and purile. Believe me, if I was some sort of fifth columnist for National I would be making more of an effort to agree with moronic utterances like yours. Given that politicians far more globally powerful than yon wee Judith Collins can’t cover up shit on Wikipedia suggests that you probably harbour paranoid delusions.

        • Murray Olsen

          It was Paula Bennett’s page that I had problems with. Please try to keep up.

  10. Matt K 11

    People need to be careful quoting Alcohol Healthwatch. On multiple occasions the spokesperson mentioned has been so single-minded in her loathing of all things related to alcohol to have plainly misused/concluded incorrectly statistics or made statements which are more “truthy” than provable.

    As a government-funded organisation they appear to have developed a carte blanche attitude towards framing opinions as if they were fact, and probably encouraged by how often the media run to them for comment. You will never find a non-polar comment by them about alcohol.

  11. redfred 12

    I wonder if her husbands sits on the board of any alcohol companies or holds any shares in said companies… I’m sure their would have been a “private” dinner or two with that odd alcohol baron or two paid for.

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