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Judith Collins 'perfectly entitled' to endorse Peugeot

With special feature audio: MP defends her decision.

Chelsea Armitage
Fri, 16 Oct 2015

Judith Collins has hit back at critics of her position as a brand ambassador for an Auckland car dealership.

The National MP is driving around a shiny new sign written Peugeot and talking the car up on her Facebook page as part of a partnership with Southern Autos, but says the endorsement is “completely within the rules" and she is "perfectly entitled" to do so.

Ms Collins says the car company approached her when it was looking for a brand ambassador for its "funky French brands" and thought she was the one. She insists Southern Autos isn’t paying her for the endorsement but the company covers petrol costs during the six-month sponsorship period, which saves the taxpayer “anything from $6,000 to $10,000 a year.”

It will also donate a portion of every sale to Collins’ chosen charity, Papakura Crime Watch Patrol, whenever a purchaser mentions her.

“Because MPs get a mileage allowance every time we use our personal cars for work, which in my case is anything between $500 and $800 a month because I’m so busy, I now don’t have to claim that so the taxpayer saves money. The way I see it, it’s a really good deal,” Ms Collins says.

She likens the sponsorship to a deal she has with Fairfax Media, which she writes for each week, donating the proceeds to Totara Hospice.
 

National Party senior whip Tim Macindoe says MP endorsements are “fairly unusual” but fall under the general rules for pecuniary interests. Financial interests and gifts over $500 need to be declared.

“The return is going to a charity, so there’s no particular problem with that. If there was any personal financial benefit to the member over $500 that would need to be declared, but it would be pretty unusual for members of parliament to do that. But there’s nothing that prevents an MP from endorsing a product, it would probably be a higher test for a minister,” Mr Macindoe says.

Mr Macindoe says ethical concerns would arise only if the product was of “dubious worth” such as alcohol or legal highs. “In this particular instance it’s a vehicle, and the proceeds are going to a crime watch charity, so I doubt that would cause much concern from an ethical perspective.”

Ms Collins also has a message to the Green Party, who she says kicked up a fuss because “nobody wants them to sponsor their bikes.”

“The Greens should just get over themselves and stop being so jealous,” she says.

Chelsea Armitage
Fri, 16 Oct 2015
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Judith Collins 'perfectly entitled' to endorse Peugeot
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