Labour Leader David Cunliffe says support for the
National Government will "corrode" over coming months as public
discomfort over perceptions of crony capitalism such as the
Oravida affair grows.
Commenting on a Herald-Digipoll result this morning which
showed support for National rising five points to 50.8 per
cent, Mr Cunliffe said Prime Minister John Key and his party
were benefiting from being in power for some time and "a
temporary upswing in the economy as a result of high dairy
prices and an quake insurance payments".
In the poll, National showed no sign of being affected by
allegations of a conflict of interest that engulfed high
flying minister Judith Collins which gained momentum during
the polling period.
However, Mr Cunliffe said he expected that would "filter
through" and affect National over time.
"And as it's part of a broader narrative about National and
crony capitalism I think National will corrode because New
Zealanders do not like the idea that Government ministers are
using their position to enrich themselves, their party and
Mr Cunliffe said the poll, which had Labour slipping below
the 30 per cent mark, showed "we've got more work to do".
Referring to questions around his use of a trust to receive
donations to support his leadership campaign last year, Mr
Cunliffe said: "We expected to take a hit, we did and now
we're moving on".
"It reflects a particular point in time that's already behind
us. We're in a new phase now announcing new policy around our
economic direction with an important speech on forestry
tomorrow and I think you'll seen in more detail where we're
Mr Cunliffe also expressed some doubt over the accuracy of
"Our internal polls show us unmoved in the mid- 30s."
Meanwhile, Ms Collins faced further questions about the
Oravida affair this morning, particularly around the October
dinner in Beijing which she, along with her senior advisor
Margaret Malcolm, "close friends" Stone Shi and Julia Xu from
dairy and seafood export company Oravida, and a senior
Chinese border control official attended.
She said she did not know who paid for the meal.
"I've already said I didn't pay for it. Margaret Malcolm
didn't pay for it the taxpayer didn't. I don't know who did
and I haven't asked."
Asked whether the fact that it appeared either Oravida or the
Chinese official paid for dinner added to perceptions of a
conflict of interest, Ms Collins, said: "actually it
doesn't", before walking away from reporters.
The fact Ms Collins walked away from questions about the
dinner was "not a good look at all", Mr Cunliffe said.
"She should come clean. Who paid for the dinner? Who was the
Chinese official? Why did the ambassador not attend? Those
are what New Zealanders want to know... they want to know how
deep the conflict of interest goes.
"This is a minister who is on the run. Ministers who are on
the run can't stay running forever and there's much more to
come out on the Collins story. Labour is aware of other
matters which will be brought to the public attention in due
- By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald