Prime Minister John Key says Justice Minister Judith
Collins has handled the Oravida situation "very poorly'', after
she admitted having dinner with the company's chairman.
Mrs Collins revealed today she had a dinner with the head of
Oravida Stone Shi and a senior Chinese government official
while in China last year and admits she was wrong not to
disclose the dinner last week.
Mrs Collins has been under pressure to explain her dealings
with the milk company Oravida, where her husband is a
director and this morning said she was told to reveal the
dinner by the Prime Minister chief of staff Wayne Eagleson.
Mr Key told media this afternoon that Mrs Collins was an
outstanding minister, but he was very disappointed in her.
He said she had mislead media and others by omitting details
about her trip to China.
"She had a responsibility to reveal all of the meetings that
she held in Beijing, even if one of them was a ... private
meeting, and she certainly should have made me aware of
Mr Key said her actions had led to accusations of a
perception of a conflict of interest, "and that's
He made it clear to her "in no uncertain terms'' how
disappointed he was in her, and said she could not repeat the
Asked whether she was on her last chance, Mr Key said: "I
wouldn't want to be in her shoes if there was a repeat of
Mr Key said Mrs Collins had still not breached the Cabinet
Manual in terms of endorsing a company, but she risked
breaching the rules on conflicts of interest.
"It's shades of grey. I've had this situation before [with
former MP Richard Worth] and the approach I've taken is the
same one, where I've said to the minister it's extremely
At a media stand up at Parliament today, Mrs Collins said she
had a discussion with Mr Eagleson last night and told him of
the dinner in Beijing with Mr Shi and Julia Xu - "very very
close personal friends" - who are also Oravida's bosses.
Also in attendance was a senior Chinese border control
official who was a friend of Mr Shi and Ms Xu. Ms Collins
also disclosed she'd attended a luncheon with Mr Shi and Ms
Xu earlier the same day.
Mr Eagleson quizzed Ms Collins on her visit last night after
Mr Key acknowledged that Ms Collins "promoted" but did not
endorse Oravida's products when she visited its Shanghai
offices at the end of her trip.
She said in hindsight she could also have treated the dinner
as part of the official business of the trip, rather than a
However she continued to maintain there was no conflict of
interest in her meetings with Mr Shi or visit to Oravida.
She denied that the dinner would have been of assistance to
Mrs Collins' policy advisor was also at the dinner. She would
not say who paid for it, but said it was not her or the
"It would have been better if I had not treated it like a
private dinner which it was but had actually reported it
"Wayne said to me, and he was quite right, that I should have
told you that last week.
"I'm wrong I should have broadened it out."
"If anyone feels that I've done something wrong then I would
apologise for that because I should have told you that last
To tell reporters and the public she had got something wrong
was "not my natural state of affairs", she said.
A spokeswoman for Mr Key confirmed he met with Ms Collins
this morning "and expressed his disappointment that the
Minister had not advised him earlier of the dinner in China".
"The Prime Minister considers that the cumulative effect of
the interaction with Oravida in China may give rise to the
perception of a conflict of interest. It was unwise for the
Minister to have put herself in this position, and the Prime
Minister has made it clear to Ms Collins that she needs to
better manage any situation that could give rise to such a
Labour Leader David Cunliffe said Mr Key should stand Ms
Collins down "while he gets to the bottom of her secret
meetings with Chinese border officials, her policy advisor
and the Chinese managing director of her husband's company
"Judith Collins has been forced to admit she hasn't told the
whole truth about her visit to China last October.
"Now we learn she not only visited Oravida and endorsed its
product, but she also had lunch and dinner with the company's
boss Stone Shi. This dinner was also attended by a Chinese
border official and her policy advisor."
Mr Cunliffe said the presence of a Chinese border official,
"raises serious questions about the minister facilitating
access for products supplied to Oravida by Sanfords; a
company partly owned by the family of National Party
President Peter Goodfellow".
"New Zealanders will be dumbfounded these meetings weren't
revealed earlier. John Key is well aware how bad this looks.
This belated admission of favours for the big end of town is
business as usual for the National Part