Back in March of this year John Key issued Judith “Tipline” Collins a final warning after she misled the media and him over how many meetings she had with Oravida Management during that fateful visit to China.
Stuff had this report:
Prime Minister John Key has signalled Justice Minister Judith Collins is on her final warning after she withheld details of a dinner in China with a company linked to her husband.
The dinner was with senior members of Oravida, a company that deals with New Zealand dairy products, and a senior Chinese government official. Collins’ husband David Wong-Tung is a director of the company.
Key met Collins this morning to express his disappointment that she did not come clean when questions were first raised about her visiting Oravida offices during her official visit to China last year.
Key said the cumulative effects of her interactions with Oravida could lead to a perception of a conflict of interest.
“I made clear to her in no uncertain terms how disappointed I was,” he said.
“She’s an outstanding minister but she’s handled this situation very poorly and I’ve made my feelings known to her directly this morning.”
Key said he had been left exposed because he had based his public defence of Collins on the incomplete information she had given him.
Collins had “misled by omission” and had a responsibility to reveal all the meetings she had in China, private or not, saying “she certainly should have made me aware of [the dinner]”.
“Judith had a responsibility when she was asked the questions not just to answer the question directly but to tell me and the New Zealand public everything that had gone on,” he said.
Instead, she had allowed events to accumulate, leading to the perception of a conflict of interest “and that’s unacceptable”.
Collins had assured him she did not discuss matters of national interest with the Chinese official and that it was just a personal dinner, and he accepted that, he said.
When asked whether this was a final warning for Collins he said “I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes if there was a repeat of it”.
“I just hope there wouldn’t be a repeat of this,” he said.
The Hager book has set out a number of claims about Collins for Key to consider and if he considers them properly Collins’ Ministerial career must be toast.
Chapter 4 of Hager’s book discusses the Collins Slater relationship. It is possibly the most distressing part of the book. The cynical vile personal attacks Slater is willing to make and foster are bad enough but for a Minister of the Crown to willingly engage herself in this sort of approach to politics shows how morally bankrupt this Government is.
Mike Smith has highlighted the appalling attack on a public servant that occurred. Some will no doubt try and say that Collins could not predict how Slater would use the information or the outpouring of hate against an innocent public servant but she was a firm believer in “rewarding with double” and she knew Slater’s operating mode which by then was well established. She had to have a pretty good idea what was going to happen after Slater had received the information.
lprent has highlighted an astounding instance where an employee in Collins Minister’s office was told to turn around an OIA request from Slater within 30 minutes so that a reporter could be attacked. I bet every reporter in the mainstream media shook when they heard of this claim. The book describes a cynical process where legitimate OIAs were held up and Slater given the inside running so that he could break the story with suitable National spin applied. The effect of the book amongst the population at large is only just starting to be felt but I suspect that its effect on the fourth estate has been immediate and profound.
The other allegations made by Hager include these:
Are these instances and the Oravida failure to disclose incidence evidence of the same? They all show an appalling attitude to the media and anyone who Collins thought was a political problem was attacked.
Key was asked about the attacks yesterday morning by Guyon Espiner on morning report. Stuff contains this description of the interview:
Key is standing by Collins, and said he did not know all the details of the scenario, so would not go into it.
“I don’t know all of the details behind all of that,” Key said on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report [yesterday].
“What I do know, is that it [the book] is a series of selective pieces of information, many of which can’t be backed up.”
The allegations were a “smear campaign” from the Left, he said.
How can a responsible Prime Minister admit that he does not know all the details and then use this as an excuse not to find out all the details? He has been very clever with the selection of information that he wants to know but this now looks like a charade. And where in the western world would these sorts of attacks on so called political opponents by a Minister using the resources and power of her office by tolerated?
John Key, it is time for Judith Collins to go.