Cunliffe fails to front on Mallard's '500K to family' claim against Collins

Labour leader David Cunliffe has failed to produce any evidence to back the insinuation that Judith Collins' family received $500,000 from Oravida.

Yesterday in Parliament, as Labour's Grant Robertson was asking Ms Collins why she made alleged changes to her Beijing itinerary to favour Oravida over ministerial business, Trevor Mallard yelled "Half a million dollars to the family.”

Ms Collins –  whose husband David Wong-Tung is an Oravida director –  objected to the comment and Speaker David Carter ejected Mr Mallard from the debating chamber.

This morning on TV3's Firstline, Mr Cunliffe was asked if Labour had any evidence to back the $500,000 claim.

"One of the rules of privilege is that what’s said in the House stay in the House, so I can’t really comment on that," the Labour leader replied.

Parliamentary privilege allows MPs to make some accusations without fear of legal action.

Ms Collins has asked Mr Mallard to withdraw his claim. The Labour MP has challenged Ms Collins to prove it is not correct.

Mr Cunliffe would not provide any more detail or even comment on whether it had been appropriate for Mr Mallard to make the claim.

The Labour leader said there was "more to come" on the Justice Minister's relationship with Oravida [UPDATE: Mr Cunliffe led Labour's attack on the Oravida issue in Question Time in Parliament this afternoon, asking questions of the PM as Ms Collins was not in the House. He had no new revelations.]

Ms Collins faces Question Time in Parliament again this afternoon before taking a week's "refresher".

Cash for access to cabinet ministers
Mr Cunliffe also said "New Zealanders don’t want a government that sells access to ministers" — a reference to a Green Party claim that National runs a "cabinet club" that gives big donors to the party special access to ministers.

Finance Minister Bill English says everything about the arrangement is above board and that any member of the public can seek a meeting with their local MP.

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