Oravida donated $30,000 to the National Party just days
after Chinese authorities granted the firm the clearance for
its milk imports that it had sought NZ Government assistance to
gain, says NZ First leader Winston Peters.
Mr Peters released a document from Chinese border control
agency AQSIQ to support his claim yesterday as Prime Minister
John Key said he was pulling his embattled Justice Minister
Judith Collins out of the firing line over the long running
Oravida conflict-of-interest affair.
While Ms Collins will be in Parliament today and tomorrow, Mr
Key said she would then take a few days off after showing
signs that pressure from the Opposition over the Oravida saga
and the resignation of ministerial colleague Maurice
Williamson were affecting her judgment.
Ms Collins has faced weeks of questions over her visit to
China late last year when she had a "private"dinner in
Beijing with Oravida's bosses and an unnamed Chinese border
The Opposition claims the dinner was about Ms Collins going
to bat for the company that employs her husband, after it had
asked for ministerial assistance to overcome obstacles to its
milk exports to China following the Fonterra botulism scare.
Last night, Mr Peters released what he said was "an important
Chinese import clearance document"from AQSIQ for Oravida's
milk posted on the internet by the company about eight weeks
after Ms Collins' Beijing dinner and just a few days before
the company donated $30,000 to National on December 23.
"This suggests Oravida is boasting about having received
clearance to export again from China's General Administration
of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine [AQSIQ],"
Mr Peters said.
"This is serious evidence that Oravida did benefit from
Minister Collins' visit ... Their gratitude was shown three
days later when the National Party received a $30,000
donation from them."
Mr Peters claimed to have further evidence that would
implicate Ms Collins.
At National's northern regional conference over the weekend,
Ms Collins lashed out at TVNZ parliamentary reporter Katie
Bradford, for which she has now apologised.
Yesterday, Mr Key said he had discussed those
"inappropriate"comments with Ms Collins on Sunday.
They were "a reflection of the fact she was letting things
get under her skin and I think she would regret that," he
"We'll be encouraging her ... just to take a few days off."
But Ms Collins must front up in Parliament today and
tomorrow, when the Opposition will grill her on Mr Peters'
claims and a fresh Labour attack based on an Mfat document
showing her visit to Oravida's Shanghai offices days after
her Beijing dinner was officially described as being "to
increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor
of New Zealand products into China".
Mr Key said he had had a "cursory look"through the documents
referred to by Labour, and "there will be the normal
political questions that will get asked and people will be
able to work out why the Opposition asks those".
Labour MP Grant Robertson said if the time off was an attempt
to make the Oravida issue go away, "it's not going to work".
The Oravida saga
August 2013: Oravida's managing director Julia Xu asks Trade
Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan
Guy for help to tackle a new testing regime which was
blocking its milk imports to China.
Early October: Oravida invites Justice Minister Judith
Collins to visit its Shanghai offices and to also go to
dinner in Beijing.
October 20: Ms Collins arrives in Beijing where she attends
lunch and the dinner with Oravida's Stone Shi and a senior
Chinese border control official.
October 23: Ms Collins visits Oravida's Shanghai offices.
December 20: On its website Oravida posts an import
certificate from Chinese authorities approving its milk
December 23: Oravida donates $30,000 to the National Party.
March 12: Ms Collins put on notice by Mr Key after admitting
she met Mr Shi on two further occasions than she had
April 17: Ms Collins admits she briefed the NZ ambassador to
Beijing on the Beijing dinner.
May 2: Foreign Affairs documents reveal Ms Collins' office
also asked for an official briefing.
- Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald