Monday, March 31, 2014


Much has been made of a visit to China last October where the Justice Minister on an official trip, detoured to the Head Office of a company her husband is the NZ director.

Now one serious duty of a Government, particularly around matters dealing with a one party outfit such as China, is to smooth the way for business to operate as effectively and beneficial to NZ Inc as possible.

Her Majesties Loyal Opposition sat on what Judith Collins did on those travels last year, until the eve of the Prime minister's visit to that behemoth, well published  as a repair mission in the aftermath of the  false health scare over dairy trade, more specifically alleged contaminated Fonterra  produced whey powder.
New Zealand is nowhere near the biggest dairy producing country, I think we rate 4th but they are pretty damned dominant as a trader so the hiccup at a little link in the chain had massive potential for damage and subsequently required a significant repair effort.
I say hiccup as the product that raised the red flag, whey powder is around 1% in tonnes of Fonterra's annual production and the suspect batch was a fraction of that.

Ms Collins husband is the NZ director of Oriveda. Established in 2011, the company exports produce from New Zealand to China, including milk, meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit along with others.

Milk trade suffered across the board from NZ in the aftermath of the scare, with all product, even that from other companies such as Westland Milk, Synlait,  Tatua,  plus a myriad of niche companies using milk from any NZ source including Fonterra having problems real and imagined and of course Oravida was included.
In the world marketplace all NZ milk was literally tainted.

Why would not a significant citizen, a minister of the crown  no less, not take every opportunity and be seen promoting NZ Inc in our number one market.

But no, according to the Chatterati and coffee classes it was variously; graft, corruption, abuse of position, failure to comply with the Cabinet manual, misjudgement, unfitness for office da de da and whatever all packaged up in an attempt to derail the Prime Minister as he traveled to China with the results of an inquiry to repair any residual damage from the entirely false Botulism contamination cockup beaten into a major threat to dairy trade,  by fear, ignorance and innuendo.

Meanwhile the very serious apparent corruption of one of the two major NZ political parties being beholden to the Trade union movement, delivering favors and largess to them, and in return receiving funding generated by liberal interpretation of rules around "Training initiatives" and monies collected for welfare and representation of members on the very vague claim of connection in the form of political gains.
Ignore any people included, who may well support National at the ballot box and might well resent their share in Union funds being so donated.
Add in the dominance awarded to the unions in providing MPs and a not insignificant chunk of influence in who will lead the rabble and therefore aspire to the Top Job, by way of procedural rights in the election, the question must be asked who is really in charge there.

Toss in a very unseemly and well outside the spirit of our democracy furor with the one focus to assist a presumed justice fugitive from another jurisdiction avoid extradition to the US  and Ms Collins efforts from last year soon  become the irrelevancy they always were.

The Polls from the weekend tend to reinforce that view.
8% support as preferred Prime Minister, hell that is only a quarter of his supposed loyalists, is that a true indication of the strength of the ABC faction.


Ghost Of Greenwood said...

And of course, don't forget to mention Orivida's founder Mr Shi, who donated $56k to National - he was simply calling in the favour. In meeting with Chinese customs officials, it must've been good optics to have a Minister of the Crown in attendance to help grease the skids.

Crony capitalism and fattening eachother's wallets, that's the National Party way !

Edward the Confessor said...

It's odd how you defend corruption when it's your side doing it for their own personal financial gain, yet when Helen Clark signed a painting for charity the screeching went on for a decade. Why is that do you think? Is it just that you're a rank hypocrite, or is it a lack of principles?

Psycho Milt said...

The cabinet manual proscribes ministerial endorsements and requires declaration of conflicts of interest. You're entitled to find it ridiculous that the National Party's cabinet ministers should be expected to observe these rules, but the fact is that the rules exist for very good reasons and you don't (in multiple lengthy posts on the issue) offer a single reason why they shouldn't exist.

If you decide to offer a reason why the cabinet manual should allow ministerial endorsements and undeclared conflicts of interest, consider whether you'd like ministers from the Labour, Green, ACT, United, Maori, Mana or NZ First parties to enjoy this exemption as well, because they would.

The Polls from the weekend tend to reinforce that view.

I guess MPs could base the contents of the cabinet manual on what's likely to benefit the current government in the polls, but it would be better if they didn't, wouldn't it?

Watcher said...

Yawn! Answer Milt's question and move on old man.

gravedodger said...

@ GoG read the post again and then comment in the light of Union(workers corporate) involvement in Labour.

So you claim Shi gave money to National, must have missed the bit where he wanted to tell National who should be their leader.

@ backward you prove to me by your casting offensive matter here and elsewhere that my principles are more meaningful and worthy to me than yours will ever rate anywhere anytime.

gravedodger said...

Good morning Milt.
Where I am ambivilant about Collins alleged trangression of the Cabinet manual and its very necessary rules is that I see her offence as nebulous and of little moment when measured against what I see as far more insidious and disturbing impropriety by MPs and Cabinet Ministers in other situations, being ignored.

Her Husband is involved with milk export to China, someone has to do it and I would not want anyone prevented from indulging because their partner was a Cabinet Minister, if they were a very good operator.

You see I predicate that stance on a simple premise, I can see partners in a relationship separating their private and business lives. Hence my total opposition and disgust as to how Setchell was pilloried By a labour Minister and seriously financially disadvantaged because she happened to 'sleep' with a guy who worked in the office of the National party leader.

We are a very small country and apparent potential conflicts are ever present but do not necessarily become a problem.

lets accept your position on Collins as an accurate portrayal, that leaves me asking what was the benefit to her and why do you regard any assumed benefit to Oravida and her husband as so significant as to require her dismissal from Cabinet?

Some years ago my life partner and I, were working together in Real Estate. In a mortgagee sale, each gained totally separate and unrelated offers. We travelled together to Wellington to present them to the Merchant banker looking to get his money back. He could not accept neither of us knew what the other offer contained. His reaction was "but dont you live and sleep together". The reply was yes so what, we are professionals and know how to keep our mouths shut. Outcome SWMBO's offer was better than mine and I was pleased about that as My client was a c**t, discovered later he attempted fruitlessly to circumvent the process and offered to overbid any other offer.
From our perspective it was a closed tender and we accompanied the offers for no other reason than for security and an ability to bring closure expeditiously, travelling together was an economicly and personally natural way to travel from Masterton.

Palus said...

The National Party has always been Pro Business the Labour/Greens have always been Anti Business.
Except under Roger Douglas the scourge of Labour.
If we are survive we must trade.
Can you see Cunliffe at an APEC Meeting - ?
Bloody frightening - him doing what Wussel and the Unions have told him.

Edward the Confessor said...

Thanks for that utterly irrelevant tale from your past gravetodger. How does that make Collins' corrupt actions all right in your book?

Psycho Milt said...

Her Husband is involved with milk export to China, someone has to do it and I would not want anyone prevented from indulging because their partner was a Cabinet Minister, if they were a very good operator.

Nor would I. However, if their partner was a Minister of the Crown, I'd expect that Minister to have a good hard think about potential conflicts of interest whenever and under whatever circumstances they came into contact with said exporter, because the potential for them to damage reputations (theirs, the government's and the country's) is very high at that point. If Ms Collins devoted any thought whatsoever to this particular venture, it looks to have consisted of "Fuck all y'all."

lets accept your position on Collins as an accurate portrayal, that leaves me asking what was the benefit to her and why do you regard any assumed benefit to Oravida and her husband as so significant as to require her dismissal from Cabinet?

It's not for me to say whether she should be dismissed from Cabinet (not least because I'm in no sense an impartial observer - if it was down to me, someone like her wouldn't be in Cabinet in the first place).

The thing about principle is, it's a principle. In this case there are two:

1. Ministers mustn't use their position to endorse products.

2. Ministers mustn't use their position to benefit their friends and relatives.

That's the actual issue here. It doesn't matter whether she or her husband saw any direct benefit out of this, or whether anything dodgy happened at this dinner she attended with the people running her husband's company and a Chinese customs official. What matters is that we have declared principles when it comes to ministerial behaviour, and we're entitled to draw conclusions about a minister who ignores them.

Psycho Milt said...

Should also point out: I accept without even a private, unspoken doubt that you and your wife(sorry, assuming) respected client privacy in the incident you describe, but damned if I'm extending that confidence to politicians of any party...