Judith Collins. Photo / APN
A string of National Party high-flyers have been
entertained by the milk exporter at the centre of a conflict of
interest row involving Justice Minister Judith Collins and her
husband, a director of the company.
Labour has promised more questions in Parliament today on Mrs
Collins' visit to the offices of milk-and-scampi company
Oravida in China, made during a taxpayer-funded visit as part
of her justice portfolio.
Mrs Collins has staunchly stood by her view there was no
conflict and she stopped to "have a cup of tea on the way to
the airport". It was revealed yesterday the trip followed an
invitation from Oravida chairman Stone Shi two weeks earlier.
Mr Shi asked Mrs Collins two days after a reception at the
company headquarters which saw Mr Shi mixing with Cabinet
ministers, party president Peter Goodfellow and current and
former National MPs.
The links between the company and party are laid out on the
company website and date back to March 2011, when the Trade
Minister spoke at an Oravida-sponsored lunch.
Then, in August 2011, Mr Goodfellow and Auckland Central MP
Nikki Kaye attended a function to celebrate the company's
purchase of its waterside headquarters.
Electoral Commission records show donations worth $56,600
paid to the National Party three months later and continuing
to the present.
Mrs Collins' husband, David Wong-Tung, became a director in
October 2012, the same month Mr Shi played golf with Prime
Minister John Key.
Oravida said the men "enjoyed the event so much that they
pledged to meet again on the golf course in early 2013 in
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said yesterday that the planned
rematch never took place but the Prime Minister had played
"on a couple of other occasions in National Party 'golf
days', where Mr Shi has been one of a large number of people
Trade Minister Tim Groser and former Deputy Prime Minister
Sir Don McKinnon, also chairman of the business-oriented NZ
China Council, attended a promotional milk-drinking in
Shanghai in April.
But it was the October 7, 2013, opening of the Auckland
offices which saw the largest turnout of past and present
Dame Jenny Shipley and Sir Don, both of whom have business
links to China, attended, as did Mr Goodfellow. Also there
was Mrs Collins, who cut the ribbon opening the office, and
Police Minister Anne Tolley.
Melissa Lee, Paul Goldsmith and National-turned-Act
politicians John Banks and Don Brash also attended.
Mrs Tolley said she was attending to show support for the
export sector. Mr Goodfellow, a director and large
shareholder in Oravida supplier Sanford, said the appearance
of a large number of National people was "unco-ordinated". "I
don't know who Oravida invite to their functions."
He said China was a prominent market into which NZ firms,
such as Oravida, sought to export. The market had been
created by the free trade agreement struck by Labour.
"What National has done is to attempt to use that free trade
agreement to really drive jobs creation and exports and
imports from China."
Labour's Grant Robertson said there was an "extensive network
of connections between the National Party and Oravida".
He said Mrs Collins' trip was a clear breach of rules which
said there should not be the appearance of a conflict of
"Judith Collins needs to apologise and John Key needs to
ensure his ministers don't act like this."
Otago university political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said
the Government was "highly pragmatic" and "whatever works is
"Judith Collins in her dealings with this milk company has
been epitomising that," he said.
Mr Wong-Tung said: "I don't want to talk about Oravida."
- David Fisher, NZ Herald