Collins dropped business & legal roundtable to visit her husband's company — Labour
"From my discussions with female friends the length of the list of female voters who are really turned off by Robertson's bullying is growing by the day"Featured comment
UPDATE / May 6: Labour's Grant Robertson used Question Time in Parliament today to raise a new allegation relating to Judith Collins' Beijing trip — that the Justice Minister dropped a scheduled business and legal roundtable to accommodate a private visit to Oravida. Ms' Collins husband David Wong-Tung is an Oravida director.
Ms Collins flatly denied the claim.
Mr Robertson tabled documents in support. NBR has requested a copy of those documents.
Ms Collins said the business and legal round table event appeared in a early draft version of her itinerary only.
"I at no stage required it to be removed," the Justice Minister said.
Ms Collins is fronting in Parliament today and tomorrow before taking what PM calls a "refresher" breaker. The Prime Minister says Ms Collins will be back by the May 20 Budget.
Trolls and bottom feeders
Meanwhile, John Key has said Ms Colliins let Twitter "trolls" get under her skin — and that the Justice Minister had decided to quit the social network.
“She’s volunteered. She’s said to me I’m going to stay off,” Mr Key said.
“My view is there’s a lot of trolls and bottom feeders on that and in the end they get in people’s head. It’s an anonymous situation it’s a form of cyber bullying, I don’t engage in that.”
'Struggling' Collins to take time off — PM
May 5: Justice Minister Judith Collins will front up for Question Time in Parliament on Wednesday, but then take a short break, Prime Minister John Key says.
She will be "back by the Budget" on May 15.
"It was clear to me she was struggling over the last few weeks ... it led to her over-reaching," Mr Key told a press conference this afternoon.
Mr Key says Ms Collins was under pressure. The pair had two long conversations today about her recent actions.
"What I did do was make it quite clear that I think that we need to deal with this situation better. I think she is a very good minister, and she can do that," the PM says.
"Even though the issue hasn't substantively changed, it led to her overreaching in the comments she made and making comments that weren't appropriate and weren't right," Mr Key says.
"We work in a stressful environment. There's no question that Judith made some inappropriate comments and over-reached."
The PM later added that Ms Collins had let "trolls" on Twitter get under her skin.
The "refresher" break was pitched as a mutual decision.
The PM added, "By definition some weeks are better than others. Last week probably wasn't our flashest week, but then again the week before wasn't that flash for Labour."
Short term Labour gain, long-term Labour pain
The sidelining is a blow to Ms Collins' leadership ambitions. The Justice Minister is often seen, along with Steven Joyce, as one of the two leading contenders to succeed John Key when he decides to retire. Like Maurice Williamson, she is on the party's hard right — in commentator Matthew Hooton's view, too far right to win an election.
The current imbroglio makes it more likely the centralist, more electable Steven Joyce will one day replace Mr Key — ironically, a negative outcome for the Labour-Greens bloc that has pursued Ms Collins so hard, and a positive one for ACT, which needs space to grow on the right.
The Justice Minister's actions in regard to milk company Oravida, of which her husband David Wong-Tung is a director, have drawn sustained opposition attacks.
On Sunday, the Justice Minister implied TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford had approached her for help getting her (then) husband into Police College in 2010. Ms Bradford denied the claim. Later that day, Ms Collins apologised.
October 20, 2013: Collins has dinner with Oravida bosses Stone Shi and Julia Xu, along with a senior Chinese border official in Beijing, China, while on a tax-funded trip. She claims it was a "personal dinner" and that no business was discussed with the milk company, which has been having border control issues since the Fonterra botulism scare.
October 23, 2013: Collins visits Oravida's Shanghai offices "on the way to the airport".
December 20, 2013: Oravida displays a border control sanitary certificate on social media, according to NZ First.
December 23, 2013: Oravida makes a $30,000 donation to the National Party.