Judith Collins and Masterchef

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Judith Collins has, if further evidence was required, revealed her true nature and contempt for the New Zealand electorate these last two weeks.

In my view, her attendance at Oravida is a conflict of interest (it goes beyond mere perception).  The visit was clearly planned in advance and not a simple drop-in.  The previously omitted dinner with Oravida staff and an unnamed Border Security official all lead to a conclusion that Judith Collins was doing favours for Oravida.

Favours for Oravida = favours for her spouse.  I cannot fathom a clearer example of a conflict of interest.

Think of it another way.

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Imagine this:  the Thai Minister of Justice is in China.  That Minister has dinner with officials from a Thai company and a Chinese public servant.  The Thai Minister, before leaving China, then visits that same Thai company’s site, samples its products, and is complementary.  The visit is recorded on the Thai company’s website in mandarin of the Minister endorsing the company’s product with a loose Thai translation.

The spouse of the Thai Minister is a director of the Thai company.

Now, rightly or wrongly, our inherent bias presumably dictates that we all assume immediately this is a conflict of interest.  How is it any different because Judith Collins has done this?  Stand back, look at this objectively and how it will be perceived from abroad: you can have no other conclusion.

What is worse, in many ways (but not in others), has been Collins’s response.  Her aggressive retaliation of denials and then forced apology only speak to her sense of entitlement in stark contrast to her lack of understanding of the responsibilities of being a Minister.

Collins’s initial defence was that she was marketing NZ Inc.  Yes, we expect our Ministers to do that, but we have conflict of interest rules for very good reason.  No representative should use, or be seen to use, his office for the direct or indirect benefit of family or friends.  Favouritism will seep through infecting our decision-making and political discourse.

This is fundamental, isn’t it?

Lately, Collins has been trying to say that she has been contrite and we should all move on.  This is not consistent with her extremely forced apology, one which she herself described as “extraordinary” indicating to me that contrition was illusive.

This arrogance only speaks to her decision in the first place to meet with Oravida officials and visit the site.  She felt above the rules, when she should have been staying as far away from her husband’s interests as possible.

Finally, I do not understand why the Minister was in China in the first place.  Her portfolios of Justice, Ethnic Affairs, and ACC do not seem to require a visit to the People’s Republic.  This has not been properly explained and at the outset seems to be an ill use of public money.

Sounds like a junket to me.  A junket full of conflict.  A conflict of interest.

_ _

Now for something completely different…

Embarrassing admission – I am a sucker for these reality cooking shows.  “Ohhh, it’s a mystery box”.  “Taste test”!  “Tiramisu”!

Food porn, basically.

I got lured in by Masterchef Australia, and then quickly fell for our own version.  My Kitchen Rules in Australia also had me hooked and close to tears when Dan and Steph pulled it off (I said close).  Soon we will have My Kitchen Rules New Zealand, and I love the concept on TV3 of The Great Food Race  – half cooking show, half The Amazing Race.  I would be awesome at that show.  Just saying.

Of course, watching these shows is also painful.  First, you feel for the contestants placed in these agonising and contrived situations.  I mean, if my meal isn’t cooked, I let it cook a bit longer – there’s no time pressure (as my guests wait patiently…).

Second, you never get to actually taste the dishes, so you just stare at what looks amazing, but you have no way of knowing how it actually tastes.  This prevents full audience participation.  We don’t know what is really going on!  Have the producers told the judges to keep a particular contestant in the show?  I don’t know – I can’t taste the food!  I wonder if in the future there will be an option to sample the food while watching the show: “press blue to beam up Katherine’s croquembouche ($29.95)”.

Third, the scheduling is awkward.  The shows are on during dinner time, leading to inevitable comparison of my own attempt on the plate in front of me.  I begin to question my suitability for The Great Food Race.

But, and jokes aside, there is one consistent theme between these “free-to-air” shows that strikes me as outdated, bizarre, and just plain wrong.  None of them have female judges.

All of these shows are filled with male referees, apart from the odd appearance of a female guest judge.  Yes, the male judges are all extremely competent, entertaining and respected, but this glaring omission is incomprehensible.  How is this happening today?

I have some news for you folks: being an arbiter on good food does not require you to be a bloke.

At the risk of being accused of being sexist myself, women are great cooks!  Normally, the best.  The TV producers have dropped the ball on this one.  Why haven’t we heard more about this?  I don’t recall any reference to it in the media.

I’m calling for a “man ban” on TV cooking shows (well, actually, a diverse range of judges reflecting the full range of personalities working in our food and beverage industry).

_ _

Following this post, my TDB contributions will be less frequent.  I am relocating next week to Pakistan to work with UNHCR on the Afghan refugee population for the rest of the year.  It should be a fascinating experience.

My only regret is that I will not be in New Zealand to continue contributing directly to this progressive movement (I will try from afar).  The last 30 years have failed us.  The problem with having a rockstar economy is that we might end up spending too much time with “VIPs” and end up trashing our accommodation, while in truth we need an economy that works for all of us.  We need a country premised on equality, driven by compassion, and where opportunity is accessible to everyone.  That is something worth fighting for.

Kia kaha.

11 COMMENTS

  1. There will be a discussion in NZ in the not too distant future which will ask, just when did we become corrupt?

    I think business is to some extent inherently corrupt, favours for favours or contracts being won for additional covert payments cash, financial gain and or travel, nods and winks that the better business does not always get the business.

    But as a country with a democratically elected government who thinks its above corruption, when did it happen? As it is, its quietly corroding away in the background.

    Was it when political parties made promises they knew could not be kept?

    Or to be elected offer unrealistic bribes and then honour them knowing it will worsen the nation in the long-term?

    Or when faced with crisis of their own makings embark on commissions of enquiries to bury the subject from the short-term attention span of the media or people?

    Or when “Spin” or its more common name, lying, along with omission became the naturally spoken language of politics?

    Was it the Warner Bros deal that we will never know quite what was promised to trade in annoying labour rights for employees.

    Or the erosion of worker rights in general for business in return for donations to the party.

    Or the system of donations itself to political parties now so elaborate they are the stuff or crimes novels.

    Or the worrying Sky City convention centre deal concocted over a lunch without real competition in the bidding process to not only encourage gambling both in extra machines but as just seen get rid of irritating and outspoken anti gambling foundations.

    Or government ministers using their position to profit from, in the name of doing business for NZ?

    Its crept up on us and at this time the public are apathetic. As long as no one got hurt and NZ appears to benefit who cares. But it’s getting more blatant and at some point someone will get hurt and all the lying and cheating in the world wont cover for it.

    And about then a discussion will be had but the big worry is, will it be too late?

  2. We need a country premised on equality, driven by compassion, and where opportunity is accessible to everyone. That is something worth fighting for.

    Perfect summation, Michael.

    That is what should drive us all.

  3. The irony is too delicious (or is it hypocrisy?). Your condemnation that “no representative should use, or be seen to use, his office for the direct or indirect benefit of family of friends” won’t draw much dispute. But perhaps being in Thailand you are unaware how Cunliffe as a Minister made a display of himself at the opening of his wife’s law firm and took the then Prime Minister to make some endorsing remarks. Sauce for the goose etc … If you you want to get off your high horse to shoot yourself in the foot be careful your head is not behind it ! Or are you ABC ?

  4. “Finally, I do not understand why the Minister was in China in the first place. Her portfolios of Justice, Ethnic Affairs, and ACC do not seem to require a visit to the People’s Republic. This has not been properly explained and at the outset seems to be an ill use of public money.”

    I suspect there are a number of us wondering the same thing about your above observations.
    I don’t share your passion for cookery shows, which I see as a way of distraction the attention of the masses.
    Good luck with your UNHCR posting.

  5. “In my view, her attendance at Oravida is a conflict of interest (it goes beyond mere perception). The visit was clearly planned in advance and not a simple drop-in. The previously omitted dinner with Oravida staff and an unnamed Border Security official all lead to a conclusion that Judith Collins was doing favours for Oravida. Favours for Oravida = favours for her spouse. I cannot fathom a clearer example of a conflict of interest.”

    Yep, absolutely, and there is NO DOUBT about there being a conflict of interest. We saw Key at his best and worst, “snaking” his way out (like a slimy eel in a mud pond) of the mess that Collins caused him to deal with.

    “Perception” (i.e. “to be seen as” having) of a “conflict of interest”, now that in itself is unacceptable, as the Cabinet Manual appears to state.

    And then we had some on talk back radio and other media even try to defend Collins, and make the public feel “sorry” for her. I cannot believe it.

    I have not read that bit about Masterchef, as there is so much food and cookery thrown around and into people’s eyes and faces these days, it makes me vomit!

    There is only so much one can eat, and we do not need to be shown on television, by way of countless, bizarre competitions, what can be cooked up. What about cook books in hard copy or on the web? What about some good old home cookery?

    Get off and bring some informative programs, like about economic and social issues, here and overseas, and other documentaries about the environment, nature and science, thanks, useless MSM.

  6. National’s attempt to control and privatize state media has destroyed NZ television. There are hundreds of thousands starving adults, pensioners and 285,000 children living in poverty and all they get when they turn on TV are a slew of “restaurant style” cooking shows in one form or another !!!! Man ban on cooking shows??? It should be an all out ban full stop!!!

  7. Yes, I have been waiting for an answer to that obvious question that the media are avoiding like the plague, why was the Minister of Justice and ACC on a tax payer funded trip to China in the first place?

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