Armstrong on Oravida

April 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

The Prime Minister took the rather unusual step of offering free advice to yesterday. It was advice would do well to heed. But it is unlikely to do so. At least not yet.

The gist of John Key’s message to Labour went something like this. “Make my day. In fact, make my election day. If you want to continue to rate below 30 per cent in the polls, just keep talking about the things that do not matter. Just keep doing that until election day.”

Among the things that do not matter – according to Key – is Labour’s pursuit of and who she did or did not have dinner with in Beijing six months ago and what she did or did not tell New Zealand’s ambassador afterwards.

Key is right. There is a massive disconnect between the Wellington Beltway and the rest of the country as to whether Collins had a serious conflict of interest in her dealings with milk exporting company during her trip to China last October, given her husband is a director of the firm.

While Labour tries to variously tease and bludgeon more information out of the Justice Minister, the rest of the country could really not care less and – in Key’s view – voters are much more exercised with the more fundamental questions of how the respective parties’ policies are going to affect their community in terms of education, health, law and order, and so forth.

And when they do release a significant policy, they make basic tactical stuff ups such as releasing their policy the day before Easter so it disappears without trace.

 

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60 Responses to “Armstrong on Oravida”

  1. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    Did they release something before Easter?

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  2. dime (9,442 comments) says:

    It amazes me how people lose perspective. This was always a beltway issue.

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  3. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    Corruption is always a beltway issue – doesn’t mean MPs should ignore it.

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  4. mjw (228 comments) says:

    I dunno. The PM has a point, but only up to a certain point. If the government keeps behaving like the Dodgy Brothers, eventually that reputation will become widespread.

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  5. Neil (556 comments) says:

    The Shane Jones incident has by now extinguished this case. Oravida has never had traction for Labour. Each new debacle by Labour will further diminish their efforts to campaign.
    What is Labour’s major issue to camp;aign on ? No one knows.

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  6. tas (596 comments) says:

    I follow politics reasonably closely, but even I can’t be bothered to understand the Oravida fisaco. I don’t know who supposedly did what. I just don’t care and neither does anyone else.

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  7. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Complete pants.

    Collins needs to be honest or resign. Whether this is a beltway issue or not is irrelevant. She already lied more than once about this, and there is a potential conflict of interest with a government minister. If she wanted to take the wind out of this all she would have to do is name the Chinese official. If it was a private dinner, then it shouldn’t matter.

    Again, it’s her own fault. She could have avoided this weeks ago by being honest with her colleagues and the public. She lied on numerous occasions, so it is only right that she takes some heat.

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  8. nasska (10,680 comments) says:

    Neil

    Readers of “The Standard” last night were treated to Lyn Prentice bleating & crying about the timing of Shane Jones’ announcement. According to the thin skinned one poor old Shane is personally responsible for diverting the MSM away from Labour wringing the truth out of Judith Collins.

    Odds on the media were bored out of their brains about who dined with who, same as the rest of us.

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  9. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    I follow politics reasonably closely, but even I can’t be bothered to understand the Oravida fiasco.

    The National Party has close relations with Oravida, a political donor. The husband of the Minister of Justice is a director of Oravida and she is a close personal friend of other Oravida bigwigs. Oravida has trouble getting its products into China because of the botulism scare and asks for government help.

    So far nothing wrong here.

    Except Collins meets with Oravida in China and then continually lies about the meeting, being caught out lying on numerous occasions. It’s quite reasonably asked whether Chinese border officials were present at the dinner and whether Collins did favours for Oravida. She owes the public a full explanation for why she lied and who was there, because it’s a potential conflict of interest.

    If you think it’s fine to let ministers do personal favours for companies they favour, then fine. Most people don’t.

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  10. ShawnLH (3,458 comments) says:

    “Complete pants.”

    Always better than incomplete pants. :)

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  11. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    According to the thin skinned one poor old Shane is personally responsible for diverting the MSM away from Labour wringing the truth out of Judith Collins.

    That’s not going to happen. They are going to go after her because she’s not being honest with the public, and ministerial dishonesty is a big deal.

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  12. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Always better than incomplete pants.

    I don’t know. Assless chaps have a certain charm.

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  13. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    To put things into perspective. Nick Smith resigned even though he did nothing more than a favour for a voter with no prospect of personal gain.

    I thought Smith was right to resign, and that it was also right to return him to cabinet. He’s a competent minister and made a simple mistake.

    Why the fuck should Judith Collins get special treatment for an issue which presents itself as actual corruption?

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  14. Albert_Ross (249 comments) says:

    If she wanted to take the wind out of this all she would have to do is name the Chinese official. If it was a private dinner, then it shouldn’t matter.

    Indeed it shouldn’t. But maybe it does in the very different political context that is China, and maybe it does to the Chinese official him or herself. Maybe he is under the impression that “private” means – er, well, “private”. Anyway, how exactly would naming the official “take the wind out of all this”? What would it prove?

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  15. nasska (10,680 comments) says:

    ….”Why the fuck should Judith Collins get special treatment for an issue which presents itself as actual corruption?”….

    Because it isn’t & wasn’t corruption. For an example of true corruption we would have to go back to Clarkula ignoring Field’s antics.

    “Haters & wreckers”, “nothing to see here – move along” strike any bells.

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  16. mandk (822 comments) says:

    Oravida? Isn’t that a contraceptive pill, or something?

    Now, about the economy …

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  17. Pete George (22,852 comments) says:

    Whale Oil claims:

    Winston Peters and Phil Goff have also done their own little trip to China. The word is they went looking for dirt on Collins under the guise of an official trip but have come back empty handed,

    Unfortunately for Labour no one outside of the tragics living in Wellington cares a stuff about who people have dinner with. But since Labour insists on knowing such things I await the report on all after hours functions that Phil Goff and Winston Peters attended and who they attended with…after all they wouldn’t want to appear to be sanctimonious hypocrites now would they? …attempting to hold a minister to a higher standard than that which they hold themselves to.

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/04/good-advice-labour-pity-arent-listening/

    There’s a risk with trying to keep extending a political hit job – sometimes things can hit back.

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  18. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    For an example of true corruption we would have to go back to Clarkula ignoring Field’s antics.

    Why, when we have a comparable instance of a PM covering for a corrupt minister happening right now?

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  19. RightNow (6,668 comments) says:

    “Complete pants.”

    Absolutely, and to honour this sage comment I’m going to enhance a selection of comments posted thus far by simply adding “in my pants!”:

    “Did they release something before Easter in my pants!?”
    “It amazes me how people lose perspective in my pants!”
    “I don’t know who supposedly did what in my pants!”
    ” it is only right that she takes some heat in my pants”
    “Now, about the economy … in my pants!”
    “sometimes things can hit back in my pants!”

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  20. Tauhei Notts (1,609 comments) says:

    Tell me if I have got this wrong.
    Collins remembered Foreign Affairs skewering Don Brash.
    She was concerned that if she told Foreign Affairs too much she would be “gone by lunchtime”.
    The Sir Humphreys of the Foreign Affairs with their civil service mentality have an intense wish to preserve their favoured position. What they loathe is politicians who can negotiate meetings with top top officials, without their help. For it is politicians like that who show them up for what they are; empty vassals. And the civil service will use their political wing to have a go at her. Just like the civil service frequently use their indoctrination service called National Radio.

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  21. nasska (10,680 comments) says:

    ….”Why, when we have a comparable instance of a PM covering for a corrupt minister happening right now?”….

    Prove it. The idiots of the parliamentary opposition can’t. They stand up every day for weeks with the Norwester blowing their tongues around but all they’ve accomplished is filling another volume of Hansard with tripe.

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  22. jaba (2,089 comments) says:

    it’s almost sad watching Labour collapse like they are .. where are the stars?
    All parties have usless MP’s, some more than most, but Labour are supposed to be a top 2 party in NZ

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  23. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Indeed it shouldn’t. But maybe it does in the very different political context that is China, and maybe it does to the Chinese official him or herself. Maybe he is under the impression that “private” means – er, well, “private”. Anyway, how exactly would naming the official “take the wind out of all this”? What would it prove?

    That she could face up to her responsibilities as a cabinet minister and be honest with the public.

    Farrar is reaching here. I actually bothered to watch question time last week, and they have Collins on the run.

    What’s so special about Collins? Nick Smith resigned over a formal error. Why is Collins untouchable?

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  24. publicwatchdog (2,107 comments) says:

    As a proven ‘anti-corruption’ campaigner, in my considered opinion, there is significant and growing public concern about Minister of Justice Judith Collins’ ACTUAL ‘conflict of interest’ regarding her role in promoting/ endorsing her friends and husband’s company – Oravida.

    Just as with DODGY John Banks, NZ Prime Minister John Key AGAIN, is defending the indefensible?

    Seen this?

    Seems that unfortunately for Cameron Slater, Judith Collins and Prime Minister John Key, there are actually a growing number of New Zealanders who do ‘care a stuff about who people have dinner with’ :

    “Should Judith Collins step down as a minister?”

    8:49 AM Wednesday Apr 16, 2014 1016 comments

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11239082#comment-form
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    And this?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11242726

    Envoy kept tabs on Judith Collins in China

    9:11 AM Wednesday Apr 23, 2014

    Ambassador to China had asked minister to inform him what was discussed at dinner.

    Judith Collins insists the Beijing dinner was a private occasion. Photo / Michael CraigJudith Collins insists the Beijing dinner was a private occasion. Photo / Michael Craig

    New Zealand’s ambassador to China, Carl Worker, asked Judith Collins to tell him of anything he needed to know about the Beijing dinner with an unnamed senior Chinese border control official, which the Justice Minister insists was a private social occasion.

    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.

    “He’d said to me on the Sunday, just let him know if there was anything he needed to know about.”

    ……

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    This issue is NOT going away.

    It is a DISGRACE.

    There is a LOT more to come …..

    Penny Bright

    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 (who polled 4th with 11,723 votes, campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region)

    http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz
    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com
    http://www.occupyaucklandvsaucklandcouncilappeal.org.nz

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  25. mikenmild (10,745 comments) says:

    Paid your rates yet Penny? Ugly says you don’t have to.

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  26. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    Tom Jackson
    You are beginning to sound like Grant Robertson.
    My take is that everything happened pretty much as Collins has said but she was blindsided by the fuss made so long after the event and perhaps took too long getting it all out. Ho hum.
    Show me the money changing hands, the favour sought and granted, the diamond necklace and I will admit to corruption. Until then you just sound spiteful.

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  27. RightNow (6,668 comments) says:

    “There is a LOT more to come …..in my pants”

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  28. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    Ha it’s actually Penny Bright who has Collins on the run!

    Run, Judith, run.

    Love the Herald hysteria. Spot the disconnect between these two sentences:

    Envoy kept tabs on Judith Collins in China

    “He’d said to me on the Sunday, just let him know if there was anything he needed to know about.”

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  29. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    Tell me if I have got this wrong.

    You have got this wrong – so wrong it’s funny, in fact.

    Prove it.

    The minister proves it every time she refuses to answer questions on the subject. The Speaker of the House himself invited us to draw our own conclusions from her refusal.

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  30. peterwn (3,163 comments) says:

    Judith, despite being an ‘iron lady’ type, was upset over the way the whole issue has been pushed. The irony for her now is every cloud has a sliver lining and as long as she keeps getting pilloried over this, Grant Robertson and co just appear to be bigger and bigger idiots. This should surely cheer her up.

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  31. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Tom Jackson
    You are beginning to sound like Grant Robertson.
    My take is that everything happened pretty much as Collins has said but she was blindsided by the fuss made so long after the event and perhaps took too long getting it all out. Ho hum.
    Show me the money changing hands, the favour sought and granted, the diamond necklace and I will admit to corruption. Until then you just sound spiteful.

    You just don’t get it. This is not a criminal trial. We don’t have to show anything. It’s the minister who has to show that they are squeaky clean, and doubly so since she has been caught out lying about the meeting more than once. It’s the duty of a minister to show that there is no conflict of interest.

    If it’s no big deal, then Collins should just tell the truth and get it out there. That would be a sure fire way of deflating the opposition’s strategy. But she won’t which makes people think she was up to no good.

    Again, why is Collins untouchable? I’d really like to know. Smith and Dunne went for much less.

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  32. stigie (916 comments) says:

    Dont let Penny do that to you RightNow !

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  33. ShawnLH (3,458 comments) says:

    “Seems that unfortunately for Cameron Slater, Judith Collins and Prime Minister John Key, there are actually a growing number of New Zealanders who do ‘care a stuff about who people have dinner with’ ”

    Only in your dreams Penny.

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  34. Albert_Ross (249 comments) says:

    she could face up to her responsibilities as a cabinet minister and be honest with the public.

    Is there no limit then to the duty of public figures to tell us whatever we happen to want to know about their private activities? Suppose a women’s magazine were to take it into their heads to run a series about “When Your Ex Becomes Famous” and demand that MPs tell us the names of all their former boy/girlfriends so that they can track them down. Would anyone who declined be failing to “be honest with the public”? Would they be failing to “face up to their responsibilities as a public figure”?

    The point here is that the information being fixated on is not germane to determining whether there has been wrongdoing. We know that it was a Chinese border official; we have the word of a New Zealand civil servant that Oravida’s access to the Chinese market was not discussed. What would revealing the guy’s actual name add to the judgement as to whether there has been wrongdoing? And is the value of that sufficient to justify the possible endangerment of his career?

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  35. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    “It’s the minister who has to show that they are squeaky clean,….”

    BTW don’t you know any grammar? Should read ‘..she is squeaky..” Singular or plural old chap.

    That’s always the way of the left. Throw an unfounded accusation, knowing one of the innocent parties will be in jeopardy if the minister answers. Then shout corruption when the minister, quite rightly, does not answer.

    Is it any wonder Jones shook his head in disgust and left all you idiots to it?

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  36. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Is there no limit then to the duty of public figures to tell us whatever we happen to want to know about their private activities?

    Don’t be stupid.

    They have a duty of candour about potential conflicts of interest. This is a situation with a potential conflict of interest. You do the math.

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  37. tvb (4,208 comments) says:

    So far this is not working much. It is seen as a beltway issue because people are not thinking much about the election. But during the campaign when everything gets magnified small issues can cause problems. By then however this issue will have played its-self out, though Judith Collins is not helping things much. It is crowding out the media on other more positive stories for Labour so the distraction on balance is working for the Government. At the end of the day we are dealing with a perception issue and that is code for – there is a political problem for Judith Collins, not an actual problem. I predict she will ride this one out unless something new crops up. But Judith Collins I think is too smart to fall into this trap again (I hope). She still seems rather puzzled why this should be such a problem and that does worry me. After all the Premier of New South Wales had to resign over not declaring an expensive bottle of wine.

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  38. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    I want to know who the MFAT sneaks are who keep leaking this stuff to Labour.
    The whole department needs a clean out.
    Spoiled, entitled and right up themselves.

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  39. mara (726 comments) says:

    Labour are misreading Collin’s nature and the public interest in this incident. She nearly had a slight meltdown recently but by now her resolve to outstare her combatants is hardening and she will NEVER submit to the desperados as they wear out their horses circling her wagon.

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  40. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    After all the Premier of New South Wales had to resign over not declaring an expensive bottle of wine.

    My guess is that the only reason Collins hasn’t gone is that she has enough allies to make it difficult for the Prime Minister, and is vindictive and selfish enough to use them if her ambition is thwarted. Exactly the sort of person who should never hold high political office.

    Joyce must be laughing.

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  41. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    she will NEVER submit to the desperados as they wear out their horses circling her wagon.

    Then she will be broken.

    Good riddance too.

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  42. Ed Snack (1,738 comments) says:

    Is the “corruption” related to the fact that Oravidia is a significant donor to National as a party, because I fail to see any significant interest that Collins has through her husband being a Director but not a shareholder in the company.

    And wouldn’t we want the government assisting NZ exporters in this way in the wake of a significant (if false) scare about related products from NZ ? Where’s the corruption unless Collins is deriving a significant private benefit; or her party is deriving a significant benefit perhaps as an option.

    Yes, sure Ministers should be upfront with what they did, but unless someone can show where the benefits come in, this one doesn’t worry me in the slightest. All the “pressure” is simply partisan politics.

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  43. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    Collins is like Muldoon without the charm and self deprecation.

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  44. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    And wouldn’t we want the government assisting NZ exporters in this way in the wake of a significant (if false) scare about related products from NZ ?

    Yes, but impartially and not at secret meetings with companies one’s spouse and friends run.

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  45. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    tvb

    The NSW premier didn’t resign over a bottle of red wine. He resigned over falsely denying he had received it.

    In passing, I know my way around Aussie reds fairly well but I would not be surprised if the premier had no idea this particular bottle was worth $3g. I see vintage Grange selling at auction from between $400 and $800.

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  46. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    In passing, I know my way around Aussie reds fairly well but I would not be surprised if the premier had no idea this particular bottle was worth $3g. I see vintage Grange selling at auction from between $400 and $800.

    People will really buy anything despite blind tests showing it’s a load of codswallop.

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  47. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    Among the things that do not matter – according to Key – is Labour’s pursuit of Judith Collins and who she did or did not have dinner with in Beijing six months ago and what she did or did not tell New Zealand’s ambassador afterwards.

    Bollocks. National is very vulnerable to allegations of corruption, speaking as if it isn’t is an attempt to form a narrative for a sycophantic press (which ought be in China finding out who this guest was Collins will not identify).

    Key is leveraging his popularity here to set the tone, it’s very effective politics but not actual advice. Labour (or any other opposition) should be hammering the corruption line and shaming the press into treating it seriously.

    Of course that requires those doing the shaming escape reproach, which Labour is not well able to do. That is a flaw of theirs, not a virtue of National.

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  48. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    Is the “corruption” related to the fact that Oravidia is a significant donor to National as a party, because I fail to see any significant interest that Collins has through her husband being a Director but not a shareholder in the company.

    Is the corruption related to a Minister of the Crown using her position to benefit a company run by her husband and close personal friends? Why, yes it is – thank you for asking.

    And wouldn’t we want the government assisting NZ exporters in this way in the wake of a significant (if false) scare about related products from NZ ?

    We most certainly would. On the other hand, would we want cabinet ministers using their position to assist only exporters their friends and family are involved with? No, we certainly would not – we’d prefer those cabinet ministers to get the sack.

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  49. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    I want to know who the MFAT sneaks are who keep leaking this stuff to Labour.

    The ones who hate corrupt practices by government ministers, maybe? I dunno – aren’t those the ones we should keep?

    Is it any wonder Jones shook his head in disgust and left all you idiots to it?

    Is it any wonder a Labour MP receiving payments from the National Party quit once he’d damaged the party about as much as he could?

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  50. nasska (10,680 comments) says:

    ….”a Labour MP receiving payments from the National Party”….

    What payments are these? The only payment that’s been disclosed AFAIK is the $1000 Wira Gardiner flicked Shane to help with his leadership campaign & that was a personal donation.

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  51. OneTrack (2,614 comments) says:

    The Labour party needs to have a good old fashioned purge, to ensure there aren’t any other traitors to the cause still hiding in the Party.

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  52. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    So Oravida donating to National is bad but trade unions donating to Labour is good?

    No wonder Labour is sinking fast.

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  53. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    So Oravida donating to National is bad but trade unions donating to Labour is good?

    I’d figured from the few times I read your sewer of a blog that you were a moron. It’s nice to have that confirmed in spades.

    Once more with feeling: it’s fine for Oravida to make political donations. It’s just not fine for a cabinet minister whose husband is a director of the company to give them favourable treatment and then lie about it.

    Got that into your thick head?

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  54. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    TJ

    Try and unaddle you addled brain, if you have one.

    What exactly is she supposed to have given them which was not given to all companies exporting dairy products to China?

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  55. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    What payments are these? The only payment that’s been disclosed AFAIK is the $1000 Wira Gardiner flicked Shane to help with his leadership campaign & that was a personal donation.

    That’s the only one we know about so far – well, apart from Murray McCully creating a top-class taxpayer-funded sinecure specifically for him, that is, but Murray always struggles to recognise the difference between taxpayers’ money and the personal estates due to him as supreme ruler of whatever department has been unfortunate enough to find him in charge of it…

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  56. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    TJ

    Forgot to mention, you’re welcome to stay away from my blog for just as long as you like.

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  57. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,797 comments) says:

    TJ

    Brighten your evening with some vintage msic.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y1fXJnR7FE?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360

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  58. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    See “Tojo” Cunliffe greasing to RSA members (trying to buy votes) . . . does not hide the fact he detests the movement, wishing it were abolished, favouring the sacrifice of thousands of Allied troops instead of dropping the bombs, and would not be surprised to see him wearing a white poppy, that being a family trait. He is a charlatan, the type that tells young people about his war exploits, similar to his claims of organising Fonterra, voluntary social work, Forest and Bird works also. He is a loser!

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  59. Psycho Milt (2,267 comments) says:

    Yes – how his cowardice is shown up against the proud service history of our heroic leader, John Key… or something. Have you been drinking?

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  60. UglyTruth (4,002 comments) says:

    Is the “corruption” related to the fact that Oravidia is a significant donor to National as a party, because I fail to see any significant interest that Collins has through her husband being a Director but not a shareholder in the company.

    Collins’ interest is in being seen to be a rainmaker by her political associates. Her title is minister of justice, not minister of commerce or minister of foreign affairs. Mixing financial interest with the administration of justice is a sure-fire recipe for corruption.

    There is also issue of the corruption of the NZ ministry of justice which has existed long before Collins, from which flows a pervasive fraud with injures the natural rights of all New Zealanders. Collins has shown no interest in finding a remedy for an explicit case of judicial fraud in a district court case arising from this systemic corruption.

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