Judith Collins has evidently had one allegation too many levelled at her and, tired perhaps of the holier-than-thou attitude of her Labour counterparts and the media, she’s hit back. Inquiries to police aren’t rare, she says, and indeed other MPs and even journalists have asked for her help on police matters. And she’s naming names.
First up was retiring Labour MP, Ross Robertson. As reported in the NZ Herald:
Collins said Robertson asked for advice about leave entitlements for his daughter Lisa, then a police officer and aspiring Olympic runner, who wanted more time for training.
Collins, who was Police Minister at the time, said she then asked police officers visiting her office what Lisa Robertson should do. Officers responded by telling her the information was available online — a fact she passed on to Robertson.
“I didn’t interfere. It just goes to show there are plenty of times people contact the minister [for help].”
Collins said she thought his request was “unusual” but said it was “better to contact the minister than go straight to the police”.
Then she attacked TVNZ reporter, Katie Bradford, for discussing with Collins back in 2010 the possible difficulties Bradford’s then-partner might have in getting into police training college (presumably because of Miss Bradford’s mother, the oft-arrested Sue Bradford). Miss Bradford completely denied ever asking Collins for a favour or intervention (in fact, Bradford’s then-partner never even applied for police college), and Collins last night apologised.
Until Collins turned feral against Miss Bradford, Labour might have been goaded to return fire and name examples of National MPs seeking help from Labour ministers in times past. To return fire though would surely have resulted in Mutually Assured Destruction, with the Greens being the only winners. As it turned out though, Ms Collins’ meltdown over Miss Bradford will undoubtedly have resulted in cooler heads in Labour prevailing. With the media well and truly gunning for Collins’ scalp, all Labour now have to do is sit back and watch the show, popcorn in hand.
Together, Ms Collins and Maurice Williamson have been an absolute disaster for National this past week, and the flow on consequences for National may be serious.
National held its northern conference in Auckland over the weekend, but you wouldn’t know, unless you were there. The media coverage of National has been solely devoted to allegations of corruption against Collins and Williamson, and their respective reactions. In fact, the sole focus the conference received was Jamie Lee Ross having to take over from Williamson on a conference seminar, and Bill English telling the party faithful that Labour could still win the upcoming election.
Then there’s issue of Ms Collins picking a personal fight with the media, less than five months out from the election. Miss Bradford is from TVNZ, and Collins has told Brook Sabin of TV3:
“You might just find I get recall on all sorts of things. We’ll just wait and see. I think it is very important when the media want to raise issues about behaviours, they need to understand that they sometimes can be very inappropriate as well.”
“Let’s see if you hold your own people to account after you’ve done what you’ve done to Maurice.”
Ms Collins can be thankful that Maurice Williamson has already gone as a Minister. If he hadn’t, her behaviour over the last few days would surely have forced John Key’s hand. Certainly, the tide of public opinion would appear to be going out on Collins. However, as it now stands, the last thing Key wants is two Ministerial resignations/firings in a short space of time, both over allegations of corrupt practices. Key will be hoping like the blazes that nothing further comes out about Collins.