Judith Collins yesterday survived round one of the two-day
bout in Parliament against an Opposition tag team determined
to pin her over the Oravida affair.
Prime Minister John Key has told his embattled Justice
Minister to take some time out from Parliament after weeks of
punishing Opposition attacks over claims she intervened on
the company's behalf during an official visit to China last
But first, she must endure two days in the House where
Labour's Grant Robertson and Trevor Mallard and NZ First
leader Winston Peters are looking to deliver a knockout blow.
Mr Robertson struck twice yesterday, opening with a claim
Oravida enjoyed preferential treatment for its milk exports
from Chinese authorities as a result of Ms Collins' influence
while China-based rival Ruimi Food, which imports the same
product, was blocked. He followed that up during question
time by suggesting Ms Collins had a justice portfolio event
in Shanghai dropped so she could visit Oravida's offices.
While unusually subdued, Ms Collins defended competently
saying that while the event which was on a draft itinerary
prepared by MFAT did not go ahead, "it was not at my
Mr Robertson said MFAT documents about Ms Collins' trip
released last week showed the "business/legal roundtable" was
removed after Ms Collins said she wanted to take up Oravida's
invitation to visit.
"This shows what the priorities were for this minister.
Rather than doing work in her portfolio area, she
orchestrated a visit which official documents describe as
being to 'increase the profile' of her husband's company."
While the documents show Ms Collins requested MFAT to arrange
for her to visit Oravida, they don't show the justice
portfolio event was dropped to allow it. Ms Collins' initial
response to Mr Robertson's question was interrupted by
sledging from Mr Mallard who suggested her family had
received "half a million dollars" from Oravida.
Ms Collins' husband, David Wong-Tung, is a director of
Oravida and Mr Mallard later explained the figure he
mentioned was based on advice the average fees for a private
sector directorship was $50,000 a year and Mr Wong-Tung had
served as a director with five Oravida companies for two
Ms Collins took exception and asked for Mr Mallard to
withdraw his comment. When asked to do so by Speaker David
Carter, he refused and was ejected from the chamber.
Ms Collins later said Mr Mallard was "wrong, and I think he
should withdraw and apologise".
"He's absolutely made it up."
Meanwhile, Corrie Den Haring, general manager of Green Valley
Dairies which supplies milk to both Oravida and Ruimi, said
Mr Robertson's initial attack about Oravida receiving
preferential treatment from Chinese authorities was wide of
"It is not the same two-litre bottles simply with a different
label," he told National Radio. Ruimi's milk was a flavoured
or extra-calcium product which required extra testing at the
border. Delays meant the milk was too old for sale and was
- Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald