Collins failed to declare Chinese support - Peters

Winston Peters
Winston Peters
New Zealand First leader Winston Peter says Justice Minister Judith Collins failed to disclose transport, accommodation and other support provided by the Chinese Government during her trip to China in October.

However, soon after making the claim Mr Peters became the latest in a procession of opposition figures to be ejected from Parliament in recent days during attacks on the Government when he interjected when Speaker David Carter was talking.

Mr Peters stoked anticipation of this afternoon's question time in Parliament over the weekend when he said Ms Collins "will not survive next week with what I know".

In a question to Prime Minster John Key, Mr Peters said Ms Collins had failed to declare to Parliament's Register of Pecuniary Interests the support she received from the Chinese Government during the October trip to Beijing.

The trip has for weeks been the focus of opposition claims of a conflict of interest due to her interactions with milk exporter Oravida which her husband works for and which has also been a big National Party donor.

Mr Peters tabled the Register of Pecuniary Interests in which the support is not declared.

He also tabled a confidential Cabinet Travel Report on the trip which states she "received substantial support for all meeting, accommodation in Beijing and transportation and facilitation throughout the visit".

Mr Peters said Ms Collins did declare to the Register of Pecuniary Interests a set of books as a gift she received from the Chinese Government but failed to record the other contributions made by Beijing.

He said that given he would have seen the Cabinet report on the trip, Mr Key was "well aware" of the support Ms Collins received and claimed the Prime Minister was involved in a "cover-up" over the matter.

He had asked the Speaker to refer the matter to Parliament's Privileges Committee "to enable all the facts to be disclosed".

However, even if it was found that Ms Collins should have declared the support from the Chinese Government, it is unlikely to trouble the Government unduly. Omissions are made commonly without any penalty.

Mr Carter, after warning the NZ First Leader twice during his questions that he was at risk of being ejected from the House, finally lost patience when Mr Peters interrupted a point of order by Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee and threw him out.

Mr Key, who said he would apologise if the NZ First leader produced any further evidence of wrongdoing by Ms Collins, appeared unfazed by Mr Peters' claim.

He said he would have it checked out "but it wouldn't surprise me if he's completely and utterly wrong, like normal".

Ms Collins is currently absent from Parliament on stress leave but is due to return for the Budget this week, before resuming leave.

- By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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