The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

By   /   May 6, 2014  /   13 Comments

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The Nationalmobile

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Where does one start…?

¶  Growing numbers of injuries and fatalities in various industries, caused by health and safety de-regulation in the early 1990s, by a previous National government?

¶  National passing legislation last year, increasing the powers of the surveillance state by enabling legislation for the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders?

¶  Permitting dangerous drilling practices in our deep coastal waters?

¶ Hekia Parata on education?

¶ The gutting and collapse of Solid Energy?

¶ John Banks/Kim Dotcom/SkyCity/dodgy donations?

¶  Peter Dunne’s  unmitigated mess over “legal highs”?

¶  Maurice Williamson’s attempt to influence/query a police investigation surrounding a wealthy immigrant?

¶  National’s unhealthy relationship with immigrants; big business; and corporate donors-for-favours?

¶  Corporate cronyism for aluminium smelters, film companies, et al?

¶  Judith Collins’ lies over her dinner at Oravida and a mysterious, un-named Chinese official?

 

Let’s start with the last, and most recent; Judith Collins.

It appears that there are three serious grounds for which John Key  has no choice but to dismiss Collins from her ministerial rolls;

1.

Collins lied

On 5 March, Collins stated that she went to the Oravida offices;

To actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“.

On  18 March, Collins repeated this statement in Parliament;

“I was being driven around and I was assured by the ambassador that we could pop into Oravida on the way to the airport, or else I could have gone to the airport and I could have sat in the lounge for an extra long time.”

But this excuse was shown to be demonstrably false when then Labour’s Grant Robertson revealed in Parliament;

“Is she aware that Oravida’s headquarters are 30km in the opposite direction from where her hotel and business meetings were held and not on the way to Pudong airport at all?”

On 2 May, documents released to the media under an Official Information Act (OIA) request revealed this email from Minister Collins’ office;
“On Sunday, October 20 [2013], the minister will be having a dinner that will include (redacted name). He has agreed to meet with the minister arranged by Mr Stone Shi, Oravida. The minister would like ambassador Carl Worker and his wife to attend this dinner. A briefing from Mfat will be required.”

The meeting with her husband’s company (Oravida) was pre-planned as far back as 15 October 2013 – the date of the above email.

In fact,  as Vernon Small reported on 2 May, for Fairfax media, there is no way that Collins could have made an unplanned stopover at Oravida, nor anywhere else;

Mfat’s China unit policy officer, Nicholas Clutterbuck, advised that “while the dinner can be regarded as private, the minister cannot make unplanned/uncommunicated travel movements around Beijing during her stay”.
Therefore, Collins told a baldfaced lie when she said she had stopped off at Oravida on her way to the airport  “to actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“. (By the way, this is not the first time a “cup of tea” has landed a National politician in dire trouble.)

2.

Collins is avoiding responsibility/shifting blame

Whilst avoiding taking responsibility is by no means unique to Judith Collins, and is commonly practiced by other National ministers, attempting to shift blame on to her staff is nothing short of the desperate act of a politician whose career is on intensive life support.

How else to explain Collins’ eyebrow-raising comment on 4 May, when she said,
“My office is full of control freaks who want to have all the information they possibly can, and when I found out they’d asked for a briefing I said, ‘Don’t do that; it’s a private dinner. You’ll waste MFAT’s time”.”
Any Minister who is not in control of her own office must be questioned as whether they are fit to hold a ministerial warrant. Either her staff are out of control – or else Collins has lied again. (See #1 above)

3.

Collins visit to Oravida was a Business Meeting – grounds for dismissal

 

The meeting at Oravida – a company where Judith Collins’s husband is a Director – and the subsequent dinner with a Chinese official, was not a “business meeting” said Judith Collins.

However, subsequent to the non-business dinner, Oravida acquired a quarantine clearance from the Chinese government, and Oravida made a $30,000 donation to National, days later.

But more critical, as revealed on Polity, is an email dated 23 October 2013, which clearly refers to Collins’ meeting at Oravida;

Purpose / objective
To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China

The email is reproduced here in it’s entirety (courtesy from Polity);

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collins oravida email

 

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That email clinches Collins’ guilt. It is the “smoking gun” that proves Collins’ intent for visiting her husband’s business. The words are there in black and white; To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China.

This was  the same breach of Cabinet rules that caused  National Cabinet Minister, Pansy Wong, to resign,

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Judith Collins

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Mrs Wong resigned as a Cabinet minister last month after it was revealed her husband Sammy could have conducted private business while on a taxpayer-subsidised overseas trip.

Rules around the perk which pays up to 90 per cent of MPs’ and their spouses international travel, prohibit any private business activities during trips funded by it.

A Parliamentary Services inquiry ordered by Speaker Lockwood Smith cleared Mrs Wong and her husband of any serious misuse of taxpayer-funded travel perks.

The report by former public servant Hugh McPhail found the Wongs breached rules on use of the perk just once by conducting private business during a trip to China in 2008.

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The case against Judith Collins is clear-cut;

1. She lied.

2. She refuses to take responsibility.

3. It is clear that her trip to Oravida’s offices and factory were indeed business-related.

Her position as Minister is no longer tenable. She must go.

 

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Postscript #1

This is the woman who recently took joy at exhibiting an “Iron Lady” affectation by making personal attacks on a fellow Parliamentarian;

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Ministers accused of bullying Turei

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Dear Leader John Key has given Collins “time out”,  lamely explaining,

“She’ll be back by the Budget but I think she should take four or five days.  We work in a stressful environment. There’s no question that Judith made some inappropriate comments and over-reached…”

To which, I reply quoting Ms Collins herself, when she attacked  Metiria Turei;

“…Oh my goodness isn’t she a sensitive little sausage.”

Karma.  In spades.

 

Postscript #2

Judith Collin’s vindictive attack on journalist Katie Bradford (for which Collins has since apologised) is not the first instance of  critics of this government coming under attack by either politicians, or those connected with the government;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

March 2012

ACC Claimant, Bronwyn’s Pullar’s personal details are leaked to the media and to a right wing blogger, who has been given her full files, emails, etc. ACC Minister, Judith Collins, and her office are implicated.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

May, 2014

Katie Bradford, Parliamentary Press Gallery, and TV1 journalist.  Judith Collins makes allegations to a TV3 journalist, that  Ms Bradford asked the Minister to intervene on behalf of her (Bradford’s) husband to join the police force. This is refuted by Ms Bradford as untrue. Collins later apologises.

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References

TV3: Collins says Oravida visit not conflict of interest

Parliament: Justice, Minister—Statements

Fairfax media: MFAT briefing requested before Oravida dinner

Otago Daily Times: Peters reveals details of tea tape

TV3: Judith Collins takes swing at Press Gallery journalist

TVNZ: Judith Collins to take time off amid Oravida storm

NZ Herald: Oravida gave another $30,000 to National

Polity:  Even more new, damning evidence on Collins

NZ Herald:  Pansy Wong resigns as MP

Radio NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

RadioNZ: Judith Collins to take ‘refresher’ break

Additional

TV3:  Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Cabinet Manual:  Interests of family, whānau, and close associates

Previous related blogposts

Taking responsibility, National-style

 


 

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Judith Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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13 Comments

  1. Mistery Mistery says:

    Good article.

    There are probably heaps more incidents missing, and more to come!

    ¶ National passing legislation last year, increasing the powers of the surveillance state by enabling legislation for the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders?

    Regarding this item above GCSB and spying. This didn’t even make it into the limelight until AFTER the US had already been testing all their spying equipment out on NZ citizens for the past 2 years. This was the time it took to establish and enable it. ie It was all in full use on the NZ public for 2 years prior to the legislation!
    The Australia media reported this!

    Nats be gone.

  2. Naturesong says:

    I know you have a wealth of bad behaviour to choose from, so it’s understandable that a few examples got left out.

    I’d like to add the following; John Keys disgraceful behaviour toward Dr Mike Joy in 2012.
    Not only did he attack Dr Joy personally, he sought to undermine his profession and the very idea of using *science to discover and address many of the issues facing the country.

    Having no understanding of science however Mr Key was on a hiding to nothing.

    *science: a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
    And, the body of knowledge which results from that enterprise.

  3. Tom says:

    My guess is that National is going to try to ride this one out and have Collins blub in parliament if she gets hassled about it.

    The opposition needs to insist that she must go until she does, stating over and over again that we cannot have a corrupt minister in government.

    If they can’t get her out, they won’t win this election or the next one.

  4. Mike the Lefty says:

    Just like to add another one: the demise of our public health and public hospitals. Despite the Tony Ryall spin, our public hospitals are desperately underfunded, under equipped and under staffed. Two families I know are now preparing to travel back to their own countries so they can get proper medical treatment for their children because the public hospitals and doctors here can’t properly fix fractured limbs. Before any right wing troll starts raving about immigrants not entitled to free health, let me say that these families have been NZ residents for well over 10 years and are entitled to the same standard of public health care as we are. Our fantastic public health system is a lie, a National Party lie.

  5. Mistery Mistery says:

    quote:

    National’s ‘Cabinet Club’ is cash-for-access

    The Green Party has today revealed details about the ‘Cabinet Club’, an exclusive club run by the National Party, where members pay a large annual subscription to attend meetings that give them guaranteed access to government Ministers.

    “This National Party has put our democracy up for sale,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

    “Once again, we’re seeing breaches in the thin line between money and political influence in the National Party.

    “While many of the details of the Cabinet Club are secret, documents suggest that Ministers are speaking at these meetings in their ministerial capacity on their portfolio areas.

    “It’s not ok for the governing political party to provide access to Ministers of the Crown in return for donations to the party.

    “In a democracy, access to Ministers shouldn’t depend on how much money you donate to the governing party.

    “It’s exactly because of instances like this, and recent behaviour of Ministers like Judith Collins, that we have proposed a ministerial disclosure regime to improve the transparency and accountability of government.

    “Ministers are in positions of significant power and influence. It’s important that the public get to know who is gaining access to Ministers.

    “Every time the Green Party has proposed better rules around lobbying and access, the National Party has rejected it. It’s easy to see why they don’t want additional scrutiny.” end quote

  6. Intrinsicvalue says:

    Frank your commentary above is either demonstrably false or could apply equally, if not more, to Labour’s last attempt to ruin this country. Here are some examples:

    “Growing numbers of injuries and fatalities in various industries, caused by health and safety de-regulation in the early 1990s, by a previous National government?”
    Data published by the Dept of Statistics shows that the age standardised accident rate is declining.
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/injuries/serious-injury-outcome-indicators-2000-12.aspx

    “National passing legislation last year, increasing the powers of the surveillance state by enabling legislation for the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders?”
    National’s legislation was nothing more than cleaning up a legal mess left by Helen Clark.

    “Permitting dangerous drilling practices in our deep coastal waters?”
    Any activity involving the extraction of energy sources could be described as ‘dangerous’, including building wind turbines. But the fact is we either utilise our natural resources or we continue to spend foreign currency importing alternatives.

    “Hekia Parata on education?”
    Like … Michael Cullen on the economy?

    “The gutting and collapse of Solid Energy?”
    The Govt is no more responsible for the collapse in global coal prices than you or I.

    “John Banks/Kim Dotcom/SkyCity/dodgy donations?”
    You mean like the pledge card and subsequent retrospective legislation? Or the Pokie deal done by Labour? Or Helen Clark signing a painting she didn’t paint? Or covering up the Darren Hughes affair?

    “Peter Dunne’s unmitigated mess over “legal highs”?”
    A mess fixed by National. And which was nothing like the economic mess left by Labour in 2008. Or the massive power price hikes under Labour. Or the destruction of ACC’s Balance Sheet under Labour.

    “Maurice Williamson’s attempt to influence/query a police investigation surrounding a wealthy immigrant?”
    You mean like Helen Clark interfering the Kahui case (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/460632/King-lawyer-slams-PM-over-Kahui-comments), or passing legislation to prevent being prosecuted for spending on the pledge card?

    “National’s unhealthy relationship with immigrants; big business; and corporate donors-for-favours?”
    You mean like Labour’s unhealthy relationship with the dodgy unions?

    “Corporate cronyism for aluminium smelters, film companies, et al?”
    You mean the measures that brought jobs to NZ’ers? As opposed to the union cronyism within the Labour party, which gives NZ absolutely nothing.

    “Judith Collins’ lies over her dinner at Oravida and a mysterious, un-named Chinese official?”
    I would list David Cunliffe’s lies, but the list would longer than your post.

    The Clark Govt was rife with corruption and ‘favour’s for it’s pet projects. That’s politics, and for the most part while we don’t like it, the Clark years in particular conditioned us to accept it as part and parcel of what goes on.

    These are beltway issues, primarily, which you will see when the next opinion polls are published.

    • More of your usual rubbish/spin, Anononymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue. And a rather pathetic attempt at deflecting the conversation from the corrupt minister at the centre of allegations.

      By the way, you present few links for your assorted mish-mash of lies, half-truths, and cherry-picked statements. And the two links you did make didn’t even support your statements.

      Telling lies and half-truths is not a credible way to promote your own party, Anononymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue. 😉

      • Intrinsicvalue says:

        Of course my cites supported my points, Frank. And it’s time you supported your contention that anyone who disagrees with you tells ‘lies’. Cite just one in my post above. Just one.

        • Intrinsicvalue says:
          May 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

          Of course my cites supported my points, Frank. And it’s time you supported your contention that anyone who disagrees with you tells ‘lies’. Cite just one in my post above. Just one.

          LMAO!!! 😀

          What – just one?! 😀

          Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue, your reputation for dishonest mis-use of data preceeds you…

          😀

          • Intrinsicvalue says:

            Yep just one. You’ve made the accusation, now back it up.

            • Nah.

              That would be redundant, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue. Like I said, your reputation for dishonesty is well-deserved.

              Jeezus wept, you’ve shown us how political “spin” works to such a degree that more than one person has wondered if that’s your actual job.

              You’ve mis-represented; twisted; cherry-picked; and told outright lies.

              When you can’t be arsed, you drop a one-line piece of outrageous BS into a post.

              Now you’re whining that I’m being unfair to you?! Fuck off you nameless troll.

              You made your own reputation for mendacity, and that’s why no one (except your little sociopathic side-kick, Gosman!) takes you seriously.

              Take some responsibility instead of whinging. Christ, no wonder you’re too gutless to put your name to your lying crap.

              Too freakin’ funny…!!! 😀