The crusher is back!

February 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes in the NZ Herald:

If further evidence of Collins’ reincarnation was needed, it came in her response to questions about police being urged to review their pursuit practices. Collins pooh-poohed any suggestion she would tolerate a softer police chase policy. “I am saying to you and to New Zealand that while I am Minister of Police I am never going to support anything where police just give up the roads to criminals. Under any circumstances. And I would resign rather than do that.”

Nice. Very clear. That’s what people like. No ambiguity.

This last bit was pure hyperbolic nonsense, but she repeated it twice just to make sure everybody knew how very passionate she was on this point.

Instead, she had told police to look at inventive ways to stop people fleeing in the first place.

She even appeared to have come up with one of her own.

Which brings us to the third sign Collins was back and still a badass: the car-crushing law that gave her her nickname.

Collins proudly produced statistics showing boy racer offences had halved since she brought in the punishment of crushing the cars of repeat offenders. She was so proud she even hinted she could use it to catch two birds with one stone, by extending it so that the cars of those who flee police also ended up being crushed.

Admittedly, boy racers and police flee-ers are not necessarily distinct sets of people. Possibly she reasoned some of those fleeing police did so to prevent their cars being crushed. What better punishment than to crush their cars anyway? It is a genius idea. Not only is it hard to flee from the police without a car, but police would not have to embark on a chase at all if everybody’s cars were crushed. Why not go further and simply make car-crushing the punishment for every infringement? Crusher is back.

An idea worth considering – if you try and flee police, you are more likely to lose your car.

The 2015 (minor) reshuffle

December 7th, 2015 at 4:41 pm by David Farrar

The changes are here. In summary:

  • Tim Groser to become Ambassador to Washington
  • Maureen Pugh will replace him as a List MP
  • Judith Collins returns to the Ministry and to Cabinet as Corrections (off Lotu-Iiga) and Police (off Woodhouse) Minister
  • Climate Change goes from Groser to Paula Bennett
  • Trade goes from Groser to Todd McClay
  • Revenue goes from McClay to Woodhouse
  • Local Government goes from Bennett to Lotu-Iiga
  • Seymour was offered Minister of Regulatory Reform and Associate Education but declined so he could focus on rebuilding ACT, Epsom and his members’ bill

There will be high expectations that Judith will “settle down” Corrections and to a degree Police. When she was Minister of them previously she did a very good job in making effective change. I’m pleased to see she her skills will be put to good use with significant portfolios.

The other changes look sensible, if unexciting. McClay gains the most and if he does well, could even eventually end up as Foreign Minister one day.

A difficult but smart call by David Seymour to turn down a ministerial portfolio. I’ve blogged several times that too often a mainor party leader becomes a minister and then all their energy goes into their ministerial portfolios, rather than leading their party and promoting the party values. I told a couple of minor party leaders previously that if they won, they should make their deputy a minister and keep themselves fresh for the leadership.

As Seymour is a sole MP, I imagine at some stage he will accept a ministerial position, as you can impact policy better there. But a good call to wait probably another year to do so.

Tim Groser will be missed, but having concluded the TPP is a good swansong to go out on, and the hard work may be getting it through the US Congress, so as Ambassador he’ll still be fighting the good fight.

Also pleased to see Maureen Pugh make it in – she was provisionally an MP on election night, and will be a good representative from the West Coast.

MPs and endorsements

October 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Why has Judith Collins been bragging so much about her new car?

Well, she’s been crowned brand ambassador for Peugeot, DS and Citroen at an Auckland car dealership.

The former justice minister has been posting promotional updates on social media about driving around in her flash new car.

The partnership, which is free of charge, is for six months. In that time, she gets to drive around with petrol costs paid for, in exchange for raising the profile of Southern Autos Manukau.

MPs need to be careful if they do endorsements, but in this case it looks like a good idea:

But Collins says the Greens should get over themselves.

“I say get on ya bike, don’t worry about it. Someone will no doubt want them to promote a bike somewhere.”

She reasons that she is not getting any benefit from the deal because it saves the taxpayer money.

“The dear-old taxpayer under parliamentary service, they have to pay the costs of MPs’ use of cars for parliamentary business,” she said. “I get to drive around cars for my work, and my work is saving money so it’s saving taxpayer’s money.

“As an MP, not a cabinet minister, I can do that.”

And if Peugeot-buyers mention her name at the time of sale, part of the money would go towards the Papakura Community Crimewatch Patrol, of which she is patron.

“I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it to help Papakura Crimewatch Patrol. So actually it’s a win-win.”

So Collins doesn’t benefit personally, the taxpayer saves money and it helps a local charity. Looks fine to me.

Quote of the Week from Judith

September 19th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Judith Collins has declared in no uncertain terms that R&B star Chris Brown is not welcome in New Zealand, and can “bugger off”. 

Brown has not yet obtained the special visa he will need to perform in New Zealand in December – he is technically barred from visiting after being convicted of felony assault in 2009 after he viciously attacked then-girlfriend Rihanna.

Asked on the Paul Henry Show on Friday whether Brown should be allowed into New Zealand, Collins professed “we’ve got enough wife-beaters in this country, he should just bugger off“.

Great call, and it’s true.

Goff joins Collins at Sunday Star-Times

December 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jono Milne writes at the SST:

When we announced last week that Judith Collins would be writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, it excited comment across the broadcast and digital media. …

Would we also be running a column from an MP in one of the other parties, asked a Green Party PR person, for balance? “Wait and see,” we replied, coyly.

Quick as a flash, the PR person moved the goalposts: “Cool, you got a Labour and Green MP signed up too? News to me,” she said, just a tad sardonically. Apparently it would now take two columnists from the left to take on just one Judith Collins.

The outrage on Twitter was hilarious.

A few Twitter users demanded our readers cancel their subscriptions. Three of them actually went through with their threats by emailing me their cancellations – though one refused to identify himself or herself in the email because, this correspondent said, the right wing had so corrupted journalism that the writer could not risk me knowing his or her identity. Without knowing the person’s name and address, it was rather difficult to cancel his or her subcription!

Paranoia at its best.

Indeed, there is plenty of healthy precedent for senior MPs writing columns for the country’s big papers – among them, David Lange, Simon Upton, Deborah Coddington, John Tamihere, Jim Anderton and George Hawkins.

So who has the SST got to balance Collins?

Finally, for those who believe commissioning Judith Collins was an outrage, I have more bad news … as foreshadowed, I’ve taken on a second MP, too. Phil Goff will go toe-to-toe with Collins in the Sunday Star-Times every week. Goff, once the leader of the Labour Party, has now been moved off new leader Andrew Little’s front benches. Like Judith Collins, he is freed of the constraints of collective responsibility – both of them can call it like they see it. If that means they sometimes criticise their own leaders, so be it. This weekend, the former foreign affairs minister will examine whether Kiwis should be allowed to go take up arms in foreign wars like those in Syria and Iraq.

This is hilarious as many on the left regard Goff as a right wing sell out. I look forward to more howls of outrage.

The Collins report

November 25th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The report by Justice Chisholm into Judith Collins and the SFO Director is here. The key conclusion is:

There is no probative evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley. The implication that she was so involved is untenable.

I always thought this would be the case.

The report is a fascinating read. If you have the time, read it.  It is very comprehensive. Judith Collins allowed a contractor on behalf of the inquiry to search through all her electronic records over many years.

I am pleased for Judith that she has been cleared. They were very serious allegations.

The inevitable question is whether she becomes a Minister again. As the PM has said, there is no vacancy at the moment. But inevitable there will be reshuffles during the term, and I think her record of achievements in various portfolios speaks for itself and she should return to the ministry when there is a vacancy.

A couple of media have focused on Cathy Odgers not being required to give evidence in person. Well she would have if required, but she sent in an extensive 7,500 or so brief of evidence that the Commission found satisfactory. Also slanted media attacks by journalists trying to defend their own involvement were probably prejudicial against her. It is worth people recalling that the inquiry did find that journalists at the Herald were sharing information with Whale Oil, specifically so he could attack Feeley – so I don’t think they have a moral high ground on this.

Also of interest in the report is how much of the attacks on Feeley were coming from his own staff or ex-staff, resentful at his restructuring. This was very unprofessional of them – and one of them was even prosecuted for forging a purported e-mail from Feeley.

Collins’ title

October 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has admitted his office may have mishandled matters when he left former Justice Minister Judith Collins to find she had been denied an “honourable” title through the media.

But he is refusing to apologise for failing to call her, and said she may have been “confused” about standard procedure.

Collins was left seething yesterday after she was delivered a humiliating snub by Key, who declined to recommend her for the official title afforded to most government ministers.

I think it is reasonable to wait until the outcome of the inquiry, for not waiting could allow the opposition to say the Government has pre-judged the outcome.

But it would have been desirable for someone in the PMO to have directly communicated with Judith that they were delaying a decision on the title until after the inquiry, so she didn’t get questioned unawares about it by media, as she came out of a funeral.

SSC on Collins and Feeley

August 31st, 2014 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner put out a release this morning. In it he said:

“Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service to impartially serve the interests of the government and New Zealanders is a matter of concern to me.”

 “It is important that Chief Executives and Ministers mutually support each other to carry out their respective roles, in order to work together to serve the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders. Ministers are entitled to hold public servants to high standards of trust and performance and, in turn, should respect the role the public service plays.”

“I am therefore extremely concerned by an allegation that a Minister has associated with third parties to discuss influencing my assessment of a Public Service Chief Executive.  If true, this would be wholly unacceptable.”

“I told the Prime Minister’s Office that Judith Collins had a positive view of Mr Feeley’s  performance through her time as Minister responsible for the Serious Fraud Office.”

The relevant Ministers are consulted at least annually on how they view the performance of their respective CE’s.  This hardly looks like a Minister who was unhappy with their CE.

“The Commission has reviewed its documentation and sought the recollections of staff responsible for the SFO portfolio at the time in coming to this view.  This includes the period following the date of the email in October 2011 released today by the Prime Minister.  Earlier in 2011, Judith Collins had raised with me the appropriateness of Mr Feeley’s consumption of a bottle of champagne following a media inquiry.

“It was appropriate that she spoke to me about this matter and my view on the matter was released publicly at the time.”

A key thing to note here is that the raising of the issue around the champagne bottle occurred well before the e-mail. There was no information relayed to the SSC after the conversation referred to in the e-mail.

“Any campaign to undermine my confidence in Adam Feeley’s performance was entirely ineffective and unsuccessful.  He was a strongly performing Chief Executive through his tenure for his work in transforming the SFO and vigorously pursuing criminal conduct in respect of finance company collapses.”

I would be very happy to consider Mr Feeley’s return to the Public Service in the future.”

The key thing again to note is that Collins gave Feeley positive performance appraisals, which is incongruous with the suggestion she was gunning for him.


Collins resigns

August 30th, 2014 at 12:05 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Judith Collins will lose her job in a matter of hours, the Herald understands.

Prime Minister John Key has changed his plans today in order to give a special media stand-up at 12.30pm.

Collins’ resignation comes after evidence emerged in the past 24 hours of her role in moves to discredit former SFO boss Adam Feeley.

It’s understood she has resigned in a bid to clear her name without damaging the election campaign.

My understanding is that there is no evidence that Judith Collins did do anything to discredit or pass on information about Adam Feeley. The e-mail is second hand, with someone else saying that Judith said she’ll pass on any information she has. As I have said many times in the past, taking everything said in e-mails between friends as a literal statement of the truth, rather than a mixture of bravado and exaggeration, is dangerous.

But kudos to Judith for apparently resigning, to stop this ongoing saga. A very very difficult call I am sure. My thoughts are with her. While the last six months has been a torrid time for Judith, I do think people will recall she achieved a huge amount as a Minister for five and a half years as Police, Corrections, ACC and  Justice Minister.

Judith Collins has announced:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.  I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

The PM has said:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.

Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs. 


The latest nonsense claim from Peters

August 29th, 2014 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has said NZ First leader Winston Peters was wrong when he said one of her people approached him about negotiations after the election if she was National leader.

This evening Peters told TV3 he had “backdoor approaches myself from the Collins’ camp… If you can’t talk to [National leader] John Key after the election, can you talk to her?”

Peters believed the move was an attempt to undermine the prime minister which Collins was likely to be aware of.

“I didn’t think the bag man was coming without her consent,” Peters said.

Collins had previously said she was not responsible for what others did, but came out more strongly this evening.

“Winston Peters is wrong. I have never approached him nor have I asked anyone else to approach him,” she said in a statement.

This is a silly almost made up story. Not made up that someone may have had a conversation with Peters, but made up that it was an approach on behalf of Collins.

I’m 95% certain I know who Peters is referring to. He is not an MP. He is not an official of the National Party. And he is not close to Judith Collins. In fact I don’t think he has had a conversation with her in almost three years!!! I’ve had more conversations with Winston Peters in the last two years than this person has had with Judith Collins, so does that mean if I say something, it can be seen as being on behalf of Winston Peters?

This is just Peters trying to get himself publicity.

Having to prove your innocence ruled out

June 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has ruled out reversing the burden of proof in domestic violence cases – one of the key recommendations in the first report of the Glenn Inquiry.

It was a suggestion, not a recommendation, but still good to have it ruled out.

A silly complaint

May 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


Photo from Judith Collins on Facebook.

The Herald reports:

A photo op of Justice Minister Judith Collins firing a pistol has led to a complaint to the police watchdog.

The National Shooters Association said Mrs Collins had broken the law because was not licensed to the use the weapon and had shot a pistol outside of a gun club.

A picture of the minister firing the gun at an ESR testing facility last month was placed on her Facebook page.

Association spokesman Richard Lincoln complained to Police Minister Anne Tolley, who referred the matter to police.

When police said they would not intervene because Mrs Collins had been supervised at the time, Mr Lincoln wrote a letter to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

He said he had laid the complaint because he wanted “one law for all”.

“We, as civilian gun owners, don’t want to have these laws imposed on us with what appears to be politicians taking liberties and exemptions that they’re not entitled to.”

How silly. She was under Police supervision. I don’t have a license but I’ve shot a gun under the supervision of someone who does.

He was also asked about Mrs Collins’ ownership of a taser, which usually required a special licence.

“You’d have to ask her. She’s never used it on me, so I’m not aware of her having one.”

Mrs Collins, a former Police Minister, said the taser was non-operational and was stored in a perspex box.

She said it could not be charged up, “although it would be tempting occasionally to be able to”.


UPDATE: I understand the complainant, Mr Lincoln, has filed a previous complaint against Judith Collins. He alleged she was wielding a taser without authorisation. In fact she was wielding a powerpoint projector remote control. Oh dear.

Winston fires – and shoots his own foot off

May 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Winston Peters was booted out of Parliament after claiming Justice Minister Judith Collins failed to declare travel costs paid for by the Chinese government.

For days, Peters has been claiming he has a smoking gun that would see Prime Minister John Key sack Collins.

But in farcical scenes during Question Time, it took several attempts for him to make the allegations, as he was blocked by Speaker David Carter.

His stumbling caused Key to remark: ”I don’t understand the information that the member has got or the allegation… if the member could just speak a bit more clearly it might help everyone including the media.”

Stumbling is a polite term for it.

Eventually Peters tabled a cabinet report which he says show Collins failed to list ”substantial” travel, accommodation and other costs met by China in the MPs register of pecuniary interests. He said Key knew about the contributions. 

This is hilarious. The revelation that the host Government picks up internal travel costs of visiting Ministers, is about as much as a surprise that you get wet if it is raining.

It isn’t entirely clear if Ministers need to declare every overseas trip they undertake. Standing Orders say:

the information referred to in subclause (1)(a) does not have to be included in the return if the travel costs or accommodation costs (as the case may be) were paid by … any government, parliament, or international parliamentary organisation, if the primary purpose of the travel was in connection with an official parliamentary visit.

It is best to err on the side of caution and include all trips, but any omission is a minor issue. The trips are announced publicly when undertaken. Absolutely no one is surprised that the host Government picks up internal travel costs.

Several articles on Winston’s misfire.

Jane Clifton writes:

It was less the promised “smoking gun” than a dribbling water pistol, but Winston Peters made sure to get himself turfed out of Parliament yesterday to ensure his allegations about Judith Collins made the news one way or another. …

John Armstrong writes:

‘And pick up your smoking gun on the way out.” It was quite simply the killer interjection; one containing just the right amount of sarcasm to really get under the skin of its target. Or – more accurately in this case – loser.

You do not usually associate that word with Winston Peters. But his promise to dish more dirt – sorry, fresh information – on Judith Collins, such that she would be “gone by Monday”, was a dismal failure in Parliament yesterday.

It must have been especially galling for Peters that the paralysing interjection came from his one-time New Zealand First colleague, Tau Henare. The pair fell out when the National-New Zealand First coalition government fell apart in 1998.

Best quip of the month.

Andrea Vance reports on why Winston was slurring so much. he had the flu!

NZ First leader Winston Peters has blamed the flu, after he turned in a shambling performance in Parliament yesterday and MPs questioned his health.

The veteran politician, 69, displayed shaking hands and slurred speech as he attempted to catch out Prime Minister John Key with new allegations about Justice Minister Judith Collins.

And at a media conference after he was ejected from the House, Peters was sweating profusely, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

A spokeswoman later said that he was suffering from the flu.

The flu can be very nasty and take weeks to recover from. It’s not something that disappears in 24 hours. So it will be interesting to see if Winston has recovered today.

Robertson wrong

May 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

For Labour to gain traction with their Oravida claims, they essentially have to prove two things, and connect them up. They need to show that Oravida has had some sort of preferential treatment compared to other milk exporters, and that this is due to the involvement of Government Ministers.

I thought yesterday that they may have established the first. Grant Robertson claimed:

There is further evidence Judith Collins’ assistance of Oravida resulted in her husband’s company getting its milk into China, Labour MP Grant Robertson says.

“Documents show that Oravida had its milk shipment accepted by Chinese border control in December, while milk from the same supplier exported by a different company was rejected.

“Oravida’s fresh milk supplier Green Valley Dairies also supplies the same two litre bottles to Guangzhou Ruima Food Limited, simply with a different label.

“However, Guangzhou Ruima Food’s fresh milk shipment in December was rejected by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

I found this significant, as if true would suggest preferential treatment. But alas I made the mistake of thinking Labour actually were telling the truth.

Pete George has blogged a transcript from Radio NZ:

Green Valley’s general manager Corrie Den Haring refutes what Labour says.

Corrie Den Haring: It is not the same two litre bottles just simply with a different label. First of all Ruimi Food’s was taking what’s called enriched milk. They were taking flavoured milk, particularly strawberry and chocolate milks as well as standard white milk in various bottled formats.

Oravida at that stage were simply taking two litre milk with their label on it.

Some products going to Ruimi Foods in Guangzhou were blocked, and that was through extra testing that was done, namely the strawberryv chocolate and calcium milks that actually took longer than the shelf life of the product.

Mary Wilson: The milk shipment that was rejected was rejected because the testing process took so long that milk was off by the time it got through the process.

Corrie Den Haring: That’s correct, so that the shelf life of the milk only effectively has ten days once it’s in China. Some of these testing took I think up to eight days and if any product has less than I think thirty percent or fifty percent of it’s available shelf life then it’s rejected at border, and that is recorded by the Chinese border inspectorate as being a failure.

Mary Wilson: Why wasn’t Oravida’s milk then subject to the same testing over the same time frame?

Corrie Den Haring: Because they were testing for different, partly for different issues, so in and around the flavoured milks there was a question mark around some of the flavourings and some of the potential colourings, whether they actually met a fresh milk specification, and also in the calcium they were checking the levels of calcium within the milk which obviously take a lot longer time period than the standard testing being carried out.

Mary Wilson: But some of that testing surely should have applied to Oravida’s milk?

Corrie Den Haring: They weren’t taking any of the flavoured milks or any of the calcium milks, they were taking the standard fresh milk which simply have a micro-biological testing programme attached to them.

Mary Wilson: So you’re saying this is merely a technical issue, it has got nothing to do with favouritism?

Corrie Den Haring:I’m not aware of any favouritism and I don’t see any evidence from the position that Green Valley has in supplying product that the same level of orders were coming through, the same demand was coming through.

The same level of, one could argue,  frustration in and around some of the testing regimes that were being implemented at that stage, and we saw no difference between the two businesses.

So it is not the same milk, with just a different label.

Labour over-hyped the House yesterday. They went around boasting before question time how awesome they were going to be, and destroy the Government. They should remember the old maxim about setting expectations. The result was yesterday proved to be a bit of a fizzer.

The need for discipline

May 5th, 2014 at 12:59 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Ms Collins publicly apologised to television reporter Katie Bradford last night after attacking her on Twitter and telling a rival channel Bradford had inappropriately approached her when she was Police Minister.

Mr Key, while clearly unimpressed with Ms Collins’ attacks on the journalist, expressed confidence in her when asked if he had unequivocal confidence in her.

He again stated he had confidence in her this morning, and told Radio New Zealand Ms Collins had felt under pressure over the Oravida affair and the media’s scrutiny of former Cabinet colleague Maurice Williamson’s involvement with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu.

“She’s close to Maurice, and Maurice has clearly also been under a fair bit of pressure, and I think she’s felt a bit for her friend.

Fair enough.”

But Mr Key said Ms Collins had “over-reached”.

There’s quite a lot of emotions riding high at the moment, which is understandable. But discipline needs to come first. The Government has a great record to run on, and most of the fundamentals are strong. But as Bill English pointed out, you can lose on 47%.

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins said she had acknowledged she shouldn’t have brought Katie Bradford into the discussion.

“She’s apologised publicly and is hoping to talk to Katie shortly. Going forward, anything else she has to say on the matter will be with Katie herself which is the most appropriate thing to do.” …

The Budget is next week. Obviously issues around Maurice and Judith will be the focus in Parliament this week. The challenge for National is to not drag them out longer than necessary, so next week is about economic management.


Armstrong on Oravida

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

John Armstrong writes:

The Prime Minister took the rather unusual step of offering free advice to Labour yesterday. It was advice Labour 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 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.

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 Oravida 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.


Jones smears Collins

March 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Collins today hit out at allegations by Labour MP Shane Jones that she had been living at the mansion formerly owned by failed finance director Mark Hotchin – now owned by Shi.

She said rumours mentioned today by Jones on RadioLive, that she was living at Shi’s mansion were “defamatory”.

Collins had earlier told Fairfax she and her husband had never stayed at the former Hotchin mansion. Suggestions they had stayed there while their own house was being renovated were wrong.

Jones’ comments were “hurtful”, she said today, but she would not elaborate on what the comments might have meant.

“I’m really disgusted that Shane would do that,” Collins said.

“It’s actually really hurtful. I’ve been to the home that Mr Shi has bought on many occasions because he is a close personal friend and he’s away a lot.

“But I’ve never lived there, I don’t stay there – I’ve been there, and that’s because it’s a very interesting place to go look at.

“I was really disgusted that Shane would do that. I never put the boot into Shane and yet he’s gone and done that.”

Talking to Marcus Lush this morning, Jones alluded to allegations Collins had stayed at the former Hotchin mansion for some time. …

“Grant Robertson is going to continue to dig at this. There’s all sorts of all rumours swirling, does she actually live at Paritai Drive [where the Hotchin mansion is]?

“There’s all sorts of rumours swirling around Wellington that she’s living there.”

It is quite legitimate for the Opposition to ask questions around the trip to China. No issue at all with that. The job of the opposition is to hold the Government to account.

But for a senior Labour MP to start repeating (false) rumours on radio is descending into a personal smear attack. Labour need to be very careful that they don’t over-reach on this one.

UPDATE: Jones has apologised. Good on him for that.

Collins apologises

March 12th, 2014 at 12:02 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has apologised for not being open about a dinner with the owners of a Chinese company associated with her husband during an official trip to China.

In a hastily arranged press conference this morning, Collins said the dinner came up in conversation with the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson last night.

He had advised her to tell media about it. Collins said she had spoken to Prime Minister John Key about it this morning.

She said she had private dinners with the company owner and his wife many times because they were close personal friends. But she added it would have been “smarter” to have mentioned the dinner last week.

Yep. Almost best to disclose everything up front. This disclosure was still voluntary (not something discovered by others), but it keeps the story going longer than it might have otherwise.

Newstalk ZB reports:

A rare apology to the media from Judith Collins this morning.

It’s over her trip to China.

She admits she went to lunch and a dinner with Oravida bosses in Shanghai, the company her husband is a director of.

The Justice Minister has told reporters at Parliament today, that she apologises for not broadening her answers.

No doubt there will be further questions in the House today.

Collins and Oravida

March 4th, 2014 at 7:21 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reported:

There are claims Justice Minister Judith Collins may have breached parliamentary rules around perceptions concerning conflict of interest.

Ms Collins visited the Shanghai offices of Kiwi fresh milk exporter Oravida when she travelled to China in her capacity as Justice Minister in October last year.

Her husband is a director in the company.

“I drop into a lot of New Zealand companies if they ask me to and I think it’s absolutely completely appropriate,” says Mrs Collins.

A photo taken during the visit was posted on Oravida’s webstie along with a Chinese quote saying “Mrs Collins personally tasted Oravdia’s products, giving her full endorsement of these products”.

The rule book governing cabinet ministers states no minister should endorse any product or service in any media.

“Well I certainly don’t endorse any products other than the fact that I always try and help New Zealand companies who are trying to export,” says Mrs Collins.

Ms Collins says she wasn’t aware of the comments on the website and would ask for them to be removed if they breach cabinet rules.

Collins is reported as saying she dropped in briefly on her way to the airport, and has done so for other NZ companies.

You do need to be careful if a family member is involved with a company, but her husband is a director, not a shareholder, and all she did was drink a glass of milk. I don’t think that is really an endorsement.

Mr Key says he is aware Mrs Collins visited Oravida and doesn’t believe her husband’s directorship creates a conflict.

“I don’t think it does preclude her from dropping in, there is no commercial value,” says Mr Key.

In the end the Cabinet Office will advise if there is an issue, but I don’t see anything wrong. Basically a Minister pops into a successful export company for half an hour or so, has a glass of milk, and they stick a photo up on their website. It is important that the company doesn’t try to make it look like an endorsement, but many many MPs attend business openings and promotions.

Oravida is listed as a donor to the National Party, which is the great thing about transparency with donations. But I don’t think anyone thinks you need to be a donor to have an MP drink a glass of milk. Ministers and MPs routinely do photo ops like this.

Cunliffe calls Collins a trout

November 22nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

David Cunliffe blogs:

A couple of months ago I was asked to write a post for the Ruminator and, rather optimistically, I agreed.The original brief was to respond to a post by Judith Collins. My post was going to be about snapper, not trout. But considering that issue, along with Judith’s leadership aspirations, has floundered, I’ll try another hook.

What is extraordinary is this is a written blog post – not an off the cuff remark.


This is quite correct. If a male National MP had called a female Labour MP a trout, almost every female Labour MP would have done press releases condemning the sexism.

This is not the first time Cunliffe has made an off colour remark about Judith Collins. he previously said:

The controversial radio host asked Cunliffe if he ever contemplated who he would mate with if he was on a plane and everyone else in the world suddenly died.

Cunliffe answered: “Well, I have thought that if Judith Collins was the last woman on Earth, the species would probably become extinct.”

He seems to have a fixation about Judith.

A boost for Collins

November 13th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

CTU President Helen Kelly said on Q+A:

I’m leaving the country if Judith Collins becomes Prime Minister

That has to be a huge boost to Judith!

Collins on girls dressing

November 10th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Judtith Collins writes in the HoS:

I’ve never been a big fan of short skirts. With our robust Kiwi figures, they’re best left to super models. So, I’ve been interested to hear a couple of middle-aged males commenting on what these fashion choices mean. What’s the scantily-dressed girl trying to say, they ask.

Well, for a start, John and Willie, they’re not dressing for you. They’re not even dressing for teen boys. Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols.

I’m no expert on this, but I suspect Judith is dead right. You are dressing up to fit in with your peers.

These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused.

Hear, hear.

Million dollar union slush fund may be cut

October 1st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rob Hosking at NBR reports:

A $1 million government funding to the Council of Trade Unions to run accident prevention workshops is under review.

ACC Minister Judith Collins recently announced a near doubling of the amount of funding the Accident Compensation Corporation makes for accident prevention work, from $22.4 million to $40 million.

However that is accompanied by a review of existing programmes and in an interview with NBR ONLINE Ms Collins said she had told officials there are no sacred cows with regards to existing programmes.

“And I’ve told them if they need to kill sacred cows that need slaughtering, I’ll back them.” 

And in the next breath she queries the value of programmes run by the Council of Trade Unions.

The CTU gets “about a million dollars a year” to run such programmes and she says it is not obvious this is the best use of that money.

“What I want to see is what is working.”

Comparatively few accidents happen in the workplace, she says – about 20%, although these injuries tend to be more serious.

This is beyond excellent. Not only is Judith Collins doubling the amount of funding for accident prevention, she is going to ensure it is actually spent on accident prevention rather than union membership recruitment.

I understand the $1 million a year funding to the CTU was established by a former Labour Deputy Leader when he was ACC Chair. Labour constantly tries to find ways for taxpayers to fund unions so that the unions in turn can fund the Labour Party!

The CTU has responded by hysterically demanding Judith Collins resigns, because she is demanding proof that they actually do anything worthwhile with their $1 million a year.

I understand Business NZ gets some funding also. I’d scrap the funding to both bodies, and use it to run safety campaigns at the coal face.

Speedier court judgements

September 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins is putting judges on notice that painfully slow delivery of reserve judgments will no longer be acceptable. …

Rather than imposing her own plan on what is a reasonable time, she wants each judicial sector to come up with a plan: the Employment Court, the Environment Court; the Maori Land Court; the District Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Cabinet has agreed to pass a law that will require the chief judges to set protocols for their courts about reserved decisions, including providing information on the progress of decisions and on the number of judgments outstanding beyond a reasonable time for delivery.

Judges would not necessarily be named and shamed, “not unless that is the protocol,” she said, “but I would say there is a lot of public appetite for knowing what is actually happening to people’s cases.”

Some courts are addressing the issue voluntarily, including the High Court, and the court that Ms Collins points to as the worst offender, the Employment Court.

But there will now be a statutory requirement for all courts to address it.

She was particularly concerned about delays in the Employment Court where the difference between hearings and judgments being issued can be up to two years.

Waiting two years for a decision is way beyond unacceptable. The approach proposed seems sensible – have each Court set their own protocols about the maximum expected time for a decision.

Ms Collins said some members of the bench might see her actions as interference with judicial independence.

“The concept of judicial independence is something I take very carefully. But my view is that judicial independence relates to what is in the judgment, not whether or not we have one.”

Bar Association president Stephen Mills QC said timeliness of judgments was “highly desirable”.

“The issue of whether that is best managed as it is now, internally by the heads of bench, or whether it is appropriate it be the subject of some kind of legislative direction is a matter the Bar Association will have a view [on] when it looks more closely at what the minister has in mind.”

Another useful change:

Another of Ms Collins’ measures will require a consistent approach by the courts to judicial conduct and what judges should and shouldn’t do in terms of appointments, activities outside work and when they should recuse themselves from cases.

Ms Collins acted as Attorney-General over the case of former Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson, who resigned while fighting allegations of misconduct for not recusing himself from a case involving a business associate.

The Judicature Modernisation and Other Matters Bill is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.

Sounds like a good piece of law reform.


Caption Contest

August 30th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar



Enter your captions below. As always, they should be funny, not nasty. Enjoy.