Comeback Collins

Judith Collins was down and shown the way out of Parliament last year – sent to the office known as the departure lounge. But she has demonstrated resolve and determination, and will be back in Cabinet next week.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff writes about this in Judith Collins – ‘exonerated, vindicated’ and on the comeback trail:

With the political comeback from the brink complete, Judith Collins is in no mood to waste the opportunity.

Last year Collins was relentlessly hounded over her association with Oravida in a trip to China, to the extent that I think both Phil Goff and Winston Peters jetted to China to try to find dirt. Some aspects of that didn’t look flash for Collins but no smoking gun was found.

Then she became embroiled in the ‘Dirty Politics’ election campaign distraction due to her friendship and association with Camerson Slater, involving a campaign of attack on the Serious Fraud Office head.

That was too close for John Key that close to an election so Collins resigned. But a later inquiry there was “no probative evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley”.

What Collins was accused of doing was undermining the then head of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, in collusion with Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.

An inquiry by retired High Court judge Lester Chisholm later found there was “no probative evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley”.

Chisholm concluded: “The implication that she was so involved is untenable.”

Chisholm trawled through six years worth of Collins’ emails and phone records.

It was, says Collins, an incredibly invasive process.

“Not only going through my work emails, and my phone records, but all my personal emails, my computers… I had to hand in my passwords, everything.”

The upshot of all that, says Collins, is that she feels “pretty damn vindicated, frankly”.

The blame was mostly put on Slater, who admitted ’embellish’ statements in private emails:

He attacked the media saying it used “private banter” in emails as if it were court documents and denied he was responsible for Collin’s downfall with his email.

“I can say whatever I want to in private emails,” he said.

He didn’t regret writing the email, saying he “doesn’t regret anything he writes”.

He said the sentence in the email “Collins is gunning for Feeley” wasn’t a lie but “embellishing is a good word.”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10442284/Judith-Collins-resigns-says-shes-a-victim

Slater, lies, embellished banter, whatever.

Slater had quickly become politically toxic, especially for Collins. For her to revive her political career she needed to at least publicly and politically distance herself from Slater. She appears to have successfully managed this.

So a mixture of doing what was necessary to prove she could be relied on and trusted back in Cabinet, along with her reputation (ignoring the left wing wailing) of being a strong and capable Minister, has resulted in John Key bringing Collins back into Cabinet.

Next week Collins will be Minister of Police and Minister of Corrections, the latter a portfolio desperately needing a strong hand and some serious tidying up after the Serco Mt Eden debacle.

Watkins writes an interesting profile of Collins.

“When I was a little girl, I remember my mother saying to me – I was about eight – she said ‘you’re so determined Judith’. And she was saying it as though it was a bad thing. I guess that’s it. I’m just determined.”

Obviously determined.

Husband David Wong-Tung probably took it harder, Collins admits. But they’ve been through tougher things as a couple. Wong-Tung is half-Samoan, and that caused heartache for the dairy farmer’s daughter and her new boyfriend back in the day.

“My father and some of my family were opposed to a mixed-race marriage, so we had six years of my father being extraordinarily unhelpful and very difficult.”

That’s very sad. It was back in the late seventies, early eighties. Wong-Tung had migrated to New Zealand from Samoa as a child.

Back to being determined.

There was no way she was going to quit over the allegations that forced her resignation from Cabinet in the white hot heat of the election campaign last year.

“Never. Never. Definitely not,” says Collins.

And so she is back

 – apparently over the objections of some of her Cabinet colleagues, though they publicly deny that. Does that mean she has scores to settle maybe?

“Never,” laughs Collins.

“Can’t be bothered. It’s like, why? Why bother? Just get on and do the job.”

That’s quite different to what Slaster said on her resignation from Cabinet last year:

Slater was then asked what he would do about Collins’ resignation. He said: “I always give back double” and “Judith always gives back double.”

http://www.interest.co.nz/news/71717/judith-collins-resigns-after-revelation-slater-email-saying-she-was-gunning-feeley

More banter embellishment perhaps. There’s been no sign of revenge (from Collins) over the last eighteen months, just determination to succeed again.

But isn’t that the legend she’s cultivated? Crusher Collins, hard as nails?

Nah, that’s not even very real, says Collins.

“I’ve encouraged all that just for fun, really. I’ve got a very wicked sense of humour and sometimes I just get a bit carried away with it.”

And besides, the only person whose opinion she has to worry about is the prime minister. It’s his call, and his alone, says Collins.

His call has been to reinstate Collins as a Minister. If she’s learned well from her mistakes and from dealing with sustained attacks and remains determined she may be a better Cabinet Minister than before.

I’m certainly prepered to give her a chance to redeem herself.

She had been regarded as a potential leadership contender. There is no vacancy at present, and she will have her hands full sorting out Corrections and dealing with Police.

After Key? Paula Bennett is one who seems to be being groomed for a top role. Collins seems determined to rise again on her own merits.

Will this lead to a clash? Possibly.

But what about a Collins-Bennett or Bennett-Collins leadership team? Combining their contrasting, complimentary styles could be formidable.

And it could do the historically male-dominated National Party some good too.

 

Leave a comment

31 Comments

  1. unitedtribes2

     /  12th December 2015

    “His call has been to reinstate Collins as a Minister. If she’s learned well from her mistakes”
    What mistakes?

    Reply
    • Being too closely aligned with the embellishing blogger who bragged about doing politics dirty.

      She wasn’t careful enough separating family/business from work on her China trip. And she didn’t handle the resulting onslaught as well as she could have.

      Remember she was on her last warning from Key when she resigned from Cabinet.

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  12th December 2015

    Is her weakness being a lone wolf? That seems the reverse side of her strength.

    Reply
  3. She’s back and I’m glad. She needs to avoid a certain blogger like the plague. It’d be coffin nailing down time if she talks to ACB ( a certain blogger). The Press are dying for evidence they’re back in touch and it will be curtains if she does. I’m sure she’s been told this in no uncertain terms. She has resurrected her cabinet position but anything cute with ACB and its all over Rover for the front bench or better.

    Reply
    • Mike C

       /  12th December 2015

      @Traveller

      Do you honestly believe Judith Collins has been able to cease her extremely close friendship of 30 years with Cameron Slater and that she won’t share State secrets and National Party gossip with him from now on into the future? 🙂

      Old habits die very hard. LOL.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  12th December 2015

        30 years ? He’s only in his mid-forties now :-/

        Reply
        • Mike C

           /  12th December 2015

          @Kitty

          Judith was friends with Slaters parents initially … but Collins became extremely close to Cameron when he was just a little kid 🙂

          Reply
  4. After a post about about the importance of apologies is Judith Collins to apologise about China and Orivida?

    “Some aspects of that didn’t look flash…” so we wouldn’t expect a flash apology. A fairly direct one would be good, not one that heads of 30km in one direction but then comes back on target. One of those you can have at a casual drop-in cup of tea, not needing to be planned months before and delivered at a formal dinner with other guests.

    Ms Collins describes herself as “vindicated” and that becomes the headline and that becomes the belief. All done and dusted, all perfectly clear? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11364284

    For those in thrall to St Judith the apology is for the lack of honesty about China.
    To repeat from the apology post, “It should also be … honourable … the good of the country should be paramount … setting an example of exemplary behaviour.”

    Was Judith Collins’ behaviour in that saga honourable, an example of exemplary behaviour and primarily for the good of the country?

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  12th December 2015

      She did nothing wrong, so even if it wasn’t for the GOOD of the country, it wasn’t bad, either, it was just a big nothing, a non-event.

      Reply
      • Is not telling the truth right?

        Reply
      • Rob

         /  12th December 2015

        Nothing wrong? What planet are you on. How about giving Slater personal details of a public servant at Internal Affairs because she believed he had leaked information about Deputy Prime Minister Bill English misusing his housing allowance. This led to abuse and death threats against him and his family which remained on Slaters blog until Slater was spoken to by police. Not really a good look for a Minister of Justice.
        As for Oravida, her refusal to name the chinese official led to Speaker David Carter describing her response as very unsatisfactory. Pretty obvious she was using her position to try and influence her husbands and Oravidas position.
        Nothing wrong? Wonder what else she was up to.

        Reply
        • kittycatkin

           /  12th December 2015

          I meant in China. She was cleared of all that, wasn’t she ?It was all too long ago for me to remember every small detail of everything that she did or was accused of doing, and I’ve had a lot going on in my own life since then.

          Reply
    • Mike C

       /  12th December 2015

      @Duperez

      I believe that pretty much everything Judith Collins does … is primarily for her own self interests 🙂

      Judiths paid weekly column in the Sunday Star Times was for her own benefit.

      Her weekly appearance on the Paul Henry Show was for her own benefit.

      And the sponsored vehicle from “Peugeot DS and Citroen” was for her own benefit.

      This was written online about Collins use of that vehicle on Stuff or somewhere like that:-

      “Enthusiastically posting updates on Social Media about her Peugeot in exchange for free use and petrol, some question the propriety of the arrangement”.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  12th December 2015

        I wonder how many of us wouldn’t do that-if Jaguar wants to give me a Jag and petrol in exchange for telling everyone how great Jags are (I love Jaguars with a great passion), do you think that I WOULDN’T ???

        Reply
        • Mike C

           /  12th December 2015

          @Kitty

          If I was on the Tax-Payers dime as an MP like Judith Collins is … I would not be accepting payment from newspapers or radio stations for my personal opinions to be aired publicly.

          Nor would I accept the free use of a vehicle plus it’s on-road costs in exchange for giving that car company advertising on my social media pages.

          It’s called ethics … something which I have serious doubts that Judith Collins has much of when it comes to using her professional status to generate more income for herself on a personal level 🙂

          Reply
  5. It’s never okay for a Crown Minister to be seen to be endorsing corporations when your spouse is on the BOD. Never. Even if meetings were superficial and amounted to no more than a cup of tea on way to airport, perception was all. Oravida photos showed it was a big deal to them and that’s the pointy end. Her outrage prevented her from doing a timely and convenient politician’s Mea Culpa. How hard was it? Gracious contrition stops critics in their tracks. Whatever the outcome there, the bigger damage was that without a categorical denial of her political alliance with ACB she was buggered. She still can’t see that.

    Such a shame she turned out to lack the calculating and pragmatic aspect of the true Machiavelli. It’s good her vulnerabilities were highlighted when they were, rather than in an election campaign for PM. It’s yet another reason for National to thank Hager.

    48% and holding.

    Reply
  6. Pete Kane

     /  12th December 2015

    Judith and Paula. The dynamic duo. As unlikable as they are unelectable.

    Reply
    • jamie

       /  12th December 2015

      They’re both elected MPs so at least in those particular constituencies they are electable.

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  12th December 2015

        Was thinking of the bigger prizes. Personally I would love to see them as 1 & 2, ie Leader of the Opposition and her Deputy.

        Reply
        • jaspa

           /  12th December 2015

          The Opposition is exactly what they would be if those two were 1 & 2.

          Reply
          • Pete Kane

             /  12th December 2015

            Jaspa, I can’t imagine the National Caucus would be that foolish – but Shipley (who I always felt was unelectable to middle Kiwiland), so who knows. If the PM didn’t wish to continue wouldn’t English be the obvious?

            Reply
            • jaspa

               /  12th December 2015

              I suppose so, but I wouldn’t think he would be ideal. I guess that means that neither National nor Labour have an ideal candidate for the position of PM. That’s a bit depressing.

            • Pete Kane

               /  12th December 2015

              Maybe, but nothing in the ‘depression stakes’ in terms of Judith, Paula, Grant or (heaven forbid) Jacinda.

            • jaspa

               /  12th December 2015

              Lol, I see your depression stakes and up you Meteria. Imagine having a larper for a PM. Just kidding, of course, but seriously, in a country of 4 million people, can’t we find one other personable person?

    • Judith will never be leader… he persona is just not suited to the role in this day and age of TV driven presidential style campaigning….

      Paula is a maybe but I suspect the future leader of the Nats is not in the house just yet. Key is there for at least another 4-5 years unless he has other plans….

      Reply
  7. @mikec. Can’t seem to be able to reply above. Re Collins and ACB ( a certain blogger). So she was close to him, knew his difficulties, family friends etc. We’ve all got those associations. She couldn’t ditch him publicly, so she’s loyal, but it shows me she lacks the discernment for the top job. It’s not a matter to me of “good” loyalty over “mean” expediency- it’s about judgement. ACB lied. ACB big-noted and used their relationship to advance his importance in a group. In other words he shat on her reputation and undermined her credibility. Even good mates of his must have wondered at her character when he accused her of gunning for Feeley. It’s a pretty serious claim. He wasn’t looking at any big political picture, he was self centred and he was disloyal. Out of respect for him and family she chose her path, when as a politician and person of integrity she should have chosen another. There’s so much going on in this as there is in all long standing relationships, but suffice to say her judgement and head/heart was conflicted.
    It’s my opinion this characteristic showed in the Oravida issue too.

    Reply
    • Mike C

       /  12th December 2015

      @Traveller

      “Politicians Rule Book 101” … keep your Political life completely separated from your Personal life 🙂

      Reply

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