I didn’t think there would be anything more to emerge regarding Judith Collins’ trip to China and her dinner meeting there with her friends from Oravida and that unnamed Chinese border control official. The opposition wanted the name of the official; Collins refuses to supply it – it all looked very much as if the Mexican standoff would ensue until the story ran out of legs.
Unfortunately for Ms Collins, it has now emerged that in August 2013, Julia Xu (Oravida’s managing director and Collins’ close personal friend) had written to Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, asking for help from the government with regard to border control issues with China. Following the Fonterra botulism scare, China implemented a new testing regime, which was said to be affecting Oravida’s exports of fresh milk to China. The letter urged the ministers to “help us navigate through this difficult time” by “working with the Chinese Government to remove this new testing requirement”.
Of course, as everyone now knows, two months later Judith Collins was in China, meeting with her friends at Orivida. The infamous “private” dinner was held, and Ms Collins apparently made idle chitchat about tourism to the unnamed Chinese border control official.
So, Oravida had explicitly raised its concerns about Chinese border control issues with two National party ministers. Then, lo and behold, two months later, when a further government minister (who just happens to be married to one of Oravida’s directors and is close personal friends with its managing director and CEO) travels to China and has dinner with a Chinese border control official.
It doesn’t matter whether Ms Collins thought the dinner was going to be private. The moment her friends at Oravida turned up at the restaurant with a border control official, it stopped being private. Collins was being used by Oravida to grease the Chinese border control wheels. Further, she was being used because of her personal links to Oravida. For that reason, those at the dinner lose any right to privacy. New Zealanders are entitled to know who this Chinese official was and the department they work at. Otherwise, this looks suspiciously like a cover-up of some rather corrupt goings on.