Prolific and combative Tweeter Judith Collins has agreed
with Prime Minister John Key that she will stay off the social
media platform which Mr Key says has been "a big factor" in her
Ms Collins has also agreed to take a few days off late this
week and early next week as a respite from the stress of
ongoing attacks from the Opposition over the Oravida conflict
of interest affair.
Signs of that strain she is under became apparent over the
weekend when she lashed out at TVNZ press gallery reporter
Katie Bradford. Ms Collins initially attacked Bradford on
Twitter where she has a reputation for being feisty and
But commenting on Ms Collins upcoming time out, Mr Key said
that while he had not ordered her off the social networking
site, "she's volunteered, actually she said to me she's going
to stay off Twitter".
Asked whether Ms Collins' often aggressive presence had led
her into stoushes on Twitter that had contributed to her
stress levels, Mr Key it had been "one of the big factors".
"She's engaged with people who have been engaging with her
and just spending too much time focused on that and actually
not enough time on the other issues."
"My view of that social media is there's a lot of trolls and
bottom feeders on that. In the end they get in people's head.
It's an anonymous sort of situation it's a form of cyber
bullying, I don't engage in that."
Ms Collins told reporters this morning that she had agreed
with Mr Key "that it's time for me to take a couple of days
and regroup with my family".
"I think that's good advice. I've been very busy and it's
good to do that."
But first, Ms Collins must survive two days of questions in
the House from the Opposition which will target her over the
recent dump of MFAT documents about her visit to China last
year where she met with Oravida's bosses and a unnamed
Chinese border control official.
She will also face questions from NZ First Leader Winston
Peters about his claims that Oravida which had been having
problems with its milk exports to China gained a key Chinese
import certificate for its products following her dinner with
But Ms Collins said the documents "back up what I've said on
numerous occasions over the last couple of months".
Mr Key said Mr Peters claims lacked substance.
"It's typical Winston Peters isn't it. Try and put out a
couple of dots and see if people will join them, say it a
hushed tone to make it sound more sinister. The advice I've
had from MPI is it's a stock standard certificate."
Mr Key confirmed that his chief of staff Wayne Eagleson had
spoken with Ms Collins staff yesterday but said that was "all
part of pastoral care to make sure they're all ok" rather
than to check their version of events against the MFAT
Ms Collins told reporters she now regretted her meetings with
Oravida bosses during her trip to China late last year
"You know I really do. I think that unfortunately it's caused
a lot of stress for a lot of people particularly for the
Prime Minister my colleagues."
Ms Collins said Twitter was "not a good space to be".
"It is actually a forum where people can be very abusive
towards me and I'm just not doing it."
She said Sunday at National's Northern Regional Conference
where she lashed out at Bradford only to apologise a few
hours later was "the worst day I've ever had and I was
Ms Collins she had become very upset at seeing her former
Cabinet colleague Maurice Williamson in a visibly distressed
state during television interviews over the weekend.
But "I shouldn't' have hit out like that. I was wrong. I
shouldn't have done it."
Asked about her threat to dish more dirt on press gallery
reporters, Ms Collins again said "That was a really bad day,
I shouldn't have gone there".
Labour Leader David Cunliffe said it was "unacceptable for a
Minister of the Crown to personally attack a member of the
press gallery and we also think this minister has an obvious
and sustained conflict of interest upon which more detail
will emerge over the next few weeks".
"The Prime Minister needs to front up and say why he's not
treating this minister the same as Maurice Williamson."
- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald