NRT: Proving my point

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, March 12th, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: corruption, john key, Judith Collins, slippery - Tags: ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn as usual was correct and John Key was wrong. The original of this post is here.

Last week I argued strongly that we needed full transparency over Cabinet Office advice on ministers’ conflicts of interest, because we couldn’t trust the Prime Minister to represent that advice accurately, and we couldn’t trust secret advice to be accurate. And John Key has just proven my point for me:

Prime Minister John Key has admitted he misled reporters over Cabinet Office advice about a controversial visit by Justice Minister Judith Collins to a Chinese company associated with her husband while on an official trip to China.

On Monday Key told media the Cabinet Office had cleared Collins of a conflict of interest after translating comments on Oravida’s website which stated that she had praised its products.

But today Key’s office confirmed that the Cabinet office had only read the English language version on the website, which did not contain those references.

So, Key’s a liar, and the cabinet office are muppets, all enabled by secrecy. And with secrecy, the incentives align for a continuation of this behaviour: the Minister has no reason not to lie, and the Cabinet Office (which has no incentive to rock the boat with its Minister) has no reason to improve the quality of its advice.

Transparency fixes this problem. It allows us to ensure that the Prime Minister is straight with us, and it allows us to check the quality of Cabinet Office’s advice (something which has been hugely beneficial for every other public service department). As for the argument that this might cause Ministers to avoid seeking advice on their conflicts, I have a simple solution: sack the fuckers. Full disclosure and clean hands should not be too much to expect from those holding public office – and if they’re not willing to accept that, there are plenty more ambitious junior MPs who will take their job.

46 comments on “NRT: Proving my point”

  1. Ross 1

    And now we learn Collins had more than just a cup of tea…

    “Justice Minister Judith Collins has revealed she had a dinner with the head of Oravida and a senior Chinese government official while in China last year.”

    If I was a betting man, I’d say Collins was a shoo-in to succeed Key. He lies about advice he’s supposedly received from the Cabinet Office, while Collins lies by omission and fails to understand what a conflict of interest is when it’s staring her in the kisser.

  2. Puckish Rogue 2

    “Key’s a liar”

    Honest mistake, nothing to see here so lets all move on 🙂

  3. Ross 3

    “She denied that the dinner would have been of assistance to Oravida.”

    Hmmm but was it, or could it have been, of benefit to Collins and or her hubby and or the National Party?

  4. Craig Glen Eden 5

    I expext New Zealands journalist to be all over this like white on rice.Fran O’Sullivan, John Armstrong, Tracey Watkins, Paddy Gower, Tober O ‘Brien and all the others lets see how many of you start calling for John Key’s head over his blatant lies, his trickyness, his talking out the side of his mouth,his being untrustworthy, him being indecisive, showing lack of moral and professional leadership, bla bla. Step step right on up we are all waiting. Oh and about Pike river the no deal deal lets all see you do your job over that 29 NZers lost their lives for goodness sake and no one no one is to blame? Really!

    • rain33 5.1

      To be fair, I think Gower has been all over this. I said last week that he was an ‘equal opportunity’ digger among the claims of bias in favour of the Nats. I have not seen any evidence of that, Gower is out to ‘get ya’ wherever you are and whoever you are.

      • Naturesong 5.1.1

        Yeah, but that was only after the week before where it was clear to even the most partisan hack, that he was well, a partisan hack who also had a strange fixation with David Cunliffe.

        He decided to try and rescue his reputation. Unfortunately, his stuff is still pretty lightweight and he doesn’t really dig into the issues too much, it’s all about “perception” to him.

    • Sosoo 5.2

      It needs to be kept going until Collins is forced to resign.

      My guess is that digging around National’s Chinese donors might be fruitful. At the very least a cloud of doubt around Collins and National will be decent payback for the stupid crap they are flinging at Cunliffe.

      Start here:

      I wonder if Whale took money from any of these people?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1

        It needs to keep going until Collins is forced to play her hand against Key and Joyce and English. She might even take them all, too, and wouldn’t the wingnuts love a zombie Maggie?

        Kiwis, not so much 😀

  5. ScottGN 7

    According to Stuff Collins thinks the most extraordinary thing about the whole affair is that she’s had to apologise. Her arrogance is truly astounding.

  6. ScottGN 8

    Also on Stuff the PM says “he considered the cumulative effects of her interaction with Oravida could give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.” Getting pretty close to a sackable offence?

  7. Daev_1924 9

    Stuff Article 12/3/2014
    “On Monday Key told media the Cabinet Office had cleared Collins of a conflict of interest after translating comments on Oravida’s website which stated that she had praised its products.

    But today Key’s office confirmed that the Cabinet office had only read the English language version on the website, which did not contain those references.

    A spokesperson for Key said the Cabinet Office had been asked for guidance on the issue and its advice was clear that there was no conflict of interest and no endorsement.

    “As the advice referred to the material on the company’s website, the prime minister took that advice to apply to both the English and the Chinese translation.”

    He had become aware last night, however, that was not the case.

    “The Cabinet Office later became aware the Chinese translation differed from the English version, but by then Minister Collins had already asked the company to remove the Chinese version and Cabinet Office considered the appropriate remedy.” ”

    Collins has been stupid – it may cost her job, which in my view would be appropriate following the revelations of dinners and lunches… The need for transparency is paramount here and it looks like a conflict of interest.

    BUT – it is pretty clear from the Stuff article that:
    1) The PM asked for advice, as he should have that’s why there is a Cabinet Office to provide clear unbiased advice.
    2) The Cabinet Office said it checked and no fuss no foul – its all inside the rules. So they screwed up!!!
    3) The PM relayed the advice to the Public – as he should have, assuming the Cabinet Office had done a thorough job. As it turns out they hadn’t.
    4) The Cabinet Office then realised they had screwed up and hadn’t looked at the Chinese Language version. And it was different. So they reviewed the situation again and advised the PM again “Collins had already asked the company to remove the Chinese version and Cabinet Office considered the appropriate remedy”
    5) The PM then comes clean with that.

    SO WHERE IS THE LIE???? That sequence of events pivots on the bureaucrats in the Cabinet Office doing a shoddy job and advised the PM incorrectly…..

    Seriously – focus on Collins being stupid and arrogant – don’t go casting stones at Key for relaying advise from the Cabinet Office which they had to re-do as the screwed it up.

    Move on to the real show which is the constant problems with all of our political class of what ever persuasion constantly playing semantics and shaving the truth…

    • RJL 9.1

      @Daev_1924 BUT – it is pretty clear from the Stuff article that…SO WHERE IS THE LIE????

      We have no idea whether what you state is the correct sequence of events. It could equally well be:
      1) PM asks for narrowly constrained advice.
      2) Cabinet office provides advice.
      3) PM relays misleading, self-serving paraphrase of advice to media that makes out it is broader than it was.
      4) Cabinet office points out that PMs comments contain inaccuracies.
      5) PM “comes clean” and blames the error on Cabinet Office.

      Until Key releases the complete Cabinet Office advice, and the terms under which he (or whomever) requested that advice, we cannot trust him.

      • Dave_1924 9.1.1

        @ RJL:

        No PM releases that type of advice…… Did Helen Clark as a matter of practise release all the advice she received over 9 nine years in power?

        People are saying Key is a Liar – but the facts available to the public via the media don’t support that. If you have a fact base to hang the PM on go for it – if you don’t hypothesising a sequence which says he is a liar is just wind.

        Going after the Minister is the better political move – Keys popularity ratings are virtually impregnable, Collins is not a sympathetic character tbh.

        And yes a narrow TOR for any investigation, question, etc. will lead to a favourable result.

        Yip politics are a dirty business, hence why the vast mass of people in the country don’t give a monkeys about

        • RJL

          @Dave_1924 “And yes a narrow TOR for any investigation, question, etc. will lead to a favourable result.”

          So, you do think that Key was able to mislead by deliberately asking narrow questions of Cabinet Office, and then representing the answers as broad?

          Good to know.

          • Dave_1924

            Didn’t say that at all RJL – I made a generic comment on TOR’s or questions…. Their is no evidence Key lied. Simple as that….

        • risildowgtn

          this aint about Helen Clarke . this is about a LYING PM and his so called I hold my ministers to account bullshit so try a better diversion

          • Dave_1924

            No evasion – No name calling – just a simple logic flow…. echo chamber much?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Because logic will always bring you home safely.

              Get a room, your bits are showing 😆

            • felix

              Logic flow? That’s not how you spell “imaginary timeline of fantasy events and massive assumptions”.


            • risildowgtn

              so why bring up Clarke for ??… stoopid troll

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2


  8. Penny Bright 10


    In my considered opinion as an ‘anti-corruption Public Watchdog’ – Minister for Justice Judith Collins is not ‘fit for duty’ – is corrupt and should be sacked.


    I hold the same considered opinion of NZ Auditor-General Lyn Provost.

    (More on that one later ……)

    Seems that Wednesday 12 March 2014 is going to go down in NZ history as QUITE a day in the fightback against corrupt, corporate control!


    Penny Bright

    • McFlock 10.1

      that showed ’em.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.2

      Penny, I don’t think McFlock is being serious. McFlock clearly has something to hide. I think you should investigate and make sure McFlock resigns.

      • McFlock 10.2.1



        Until my ONGOING CORRUPTION is PROVED, I refuse to RESIGN.

        The HORDES of moderately wealthy DISGRUNTLED auckland ratepayers with nothing better to do are welcome to picket my offices UNTIL I actually have an OFFICE in my capacity as a dejected OFFICAL.

        I stand in TERROR of the contrived outrage that affects nowhere else in the ENTIRE COUNTRY.


        McFlock, anti-anti-noncorruption campaigner (sexual peccadillos available upon demand or negotiable price)
        p.s. it’s late and I’m drunk
        p.p.s. it could be worse, I could be drunk-texting an ex.
        p.p.p.s. or even drunk-texting a possible future ex.

  9. Ad 11


  10. xtasy 12

    As a resident of migrant origin, who is actually very committed to NZ (that is apart from moments of despair), and who lived here over 22 years, and who has worked for most of that time, paying taxes, I am constantly flabbergasted, how the wider public of this country give so much credit to John Key and his basically very corrupt government, led of course by the rather corrupt National Party.

    It is incredible, that they have so many favourable “minds” in the MSM (mainstream media), that may raise the “conflict of interest” that Judith Collins had and still has, but mostly go over it very hurriedly, dismiss it as “perception”, take the PM’s word for this, and just move on, as if this is not a scandal. The main TV channel news just showed it.

    In all honesty, in any of the leading democracies in Europe, that is traditional ones in West, Central and Northern Europe at least, this what we learned today is stuff, that would make it totally IMPOSSIBLE, to justify keeping Judith Collins in her job.

    What is different, I ask? Is it the slow and gradual influence from some “migrant” factors, especially having a husband or partner from a certain background, where such “deals” are common and accepted, that this “culture change” is happening here? Or is it that the MSM are simply so damned biased, they do not even care for performing as the supposed “4th estate”, and rather be complicit with their coctail party and dinner party mates from the National Party?

    In any case, it proves to me yet again, New Zealand is a farcical democracy and society now, where standards are compromised 24/7, and where the government is made up of parties that are paid handsome donations by business, so that they look after business, just as in many corrupt Asian countries?

    We have a “media” that is a joke, and that takes opposition members and leaders to pieces, and attacks them viciously for any ill judgment, but when it comes to the government of a right leaning kind, where Judith Collins is part of it, she even gets “sympathy” and “pity”, for a “hard day” she had.

    New Zealand is a laughing stock in my eyes, and it does not measure up to standards of transparency and accountability anymore, at least not under this government, that is made up of professional mercenaries, liars and manipulators. Return New Zealand to an accountable, honest and reliable society, and bring back the rule of law, and end damned corruption, thanks. Voters should take heed and vote wisely on 20 September!

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