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.