Just ahead of Justice Minister Judith Collins appearance
in Parliament this afternoon, Labour claimed to have evidence
that Oravida was receiving preferential treatment from Chinese
authorities for its milk imports.
Ms Collins is in Parliament today and tomorrow, before taking
time out due to the strain of attacks over the Oravida
conflict of interest affair.
NZ First Leader Winston Peters last night suggested a Chinese
import clearance certificate for Oravida's fresh milk posted
on the company's website in late December was linked to Ms
Collins' visit to China and dinner with a Chinese border
control official a few weeks earlier.
Ms Collins' friend and Oravida managing director Julia Xu had
previously asked ministers for their help in tackling Chinese
authorities' rigorous new testing regime for milk put in
place following the Fonterra botulism scare.
Just before Question Time in Parliament this afternoon,
Labour MP Grant Robertson released a list of products that
had been denied entry to China and which had been destroyed
by border control officials.
It included milk imported by Guangzhou company Ruimu which it
sourced from New Zealand Green Valley Dairies, which also
supplies the fresh milk Oravida exports to China.
Mr Robertson said the milk was the same product with
"Ruimu had their products denied to get in at exactly the
same time as Oravida had their products allowed as shown by
the import clearance certificate" Mr Robertson said.
"Evidence is building of a correlation between the Minister's
October dinner with a Chinese border control official in
Beijing and later visit to Oravida's Shanghai office, and her
husband's company's export issues disappearing.
"Judith Collins' intervention was designed to benefit
Oravida. The public can join the dots; the Prime Minister now
needs to do the same."
Prime Minister John Key this morning said Mr Peters' claims
about Oravida's import clearance certificate - which the NZ
First Leader also linked to the company's $30,000 donation to
the National Party a few days after it was posted on its
website - 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."
Oravida has so far not responded to the Herald's requests for
comment on the saga.
Three of Question Time's 12 questions this afternoon were
directed at Ms Collins over the Oravida affair while Green
Co-leader's question to Prime Minister John Key about "his
confidence in all his ministers" appeared likely to target
her as well.
Ms Collins has consistently maintained that Oravida's
business was not discussed when she met the unnamed Chinese
border control official at what she says was "a private''
The Beijing dinner was also described as a private event in
MFAT documents, released last week, about her trip.
- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald