August 28 2014, updated 10:20pm

Collins knocks 'hurtful' rumours

Last updated 16:59 13/03/2014
Fairfax NZ
JUDITH COLLINS: The justice minister admits she dined with Oravidas bosses in Beijing.

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Justice Minister Judith Collins says she will resign if information emerges she discussed the importation of Oravida products with a Chinese customs official at a private dinner.

Collins was forced to give an assurance last night that nothing more would come out that would embarrass Prime Minister John Key over her trip to China.

A storm has erupted over her visits to milk company Oravida and a private dinner held with Oravida chairman Stone Shi, managing director Julia Xu and an unnamed Chinese customs official.

Collins’ husband, David Wong-Tung is a director of Oravida.

Collins said dinner conversation was kept firmly away from Oravida’s business.

She was prepared to resign if it emerged importation issues to do with Oravida had been discussed.

"Well, of course, but I didn’t," Collins said.

"And the other thing is, my discussion was very much around tourism and I’m always constantly promoting New Zealand everywhere I go."

Collins initially failed to disclose the dinner to Key or media, despite a barrage of questions last week about her relationship with Oravida, after she was quoted on the company’s Chinese-language website praising its products.

The Cabinet Manual bars ministers from endorsing any products.

Key was forced to admit this week that the Cabinet Office had failed to get a Chinese translation before advising that Collins had broken no rules.

Collins today hit out at allegations by Labour MP Shane Jones that she had been living at the mansion formerly owned by failed finance director Mark Hotchin – now owned by Shi.

She said rumours mentioned today by Jones on RadioLive, that she was living at Shi’s mansion were "defamatory".

Collins had earlier told Fairfax she and her husband had never stayed at the former Hotchin mansion. Suggestions they had stayed there while their own house was being renovated were wrong.

Jones’ comments were "hurtful", she said today, but she would not elaborate on what the comments might have meant.

"I’m really disgusted that Shane would do that," Collins said.

"It’s actually really hurtful. I’ve been to the home that Mr Shi has bought on many occasions because he is a close personal friend and he’s away a lot.

"But I’ve never lived there, I don’t stay there – I’ve been there, and that’s because it’s a very interesting place to go look at.

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"I was really disgusted that Shane would do that. I never put the boot into Shane and yet he’s gone and done that."

Talking to Marcus Lush this morning, Jones alluded to allegations Collins had stayed at the former Hotchin mansion for some time.

"Judith has been caught out," Jones said.

"Grant Robertson has been doing a fantastic job. David Cunliffe has come weighing in saying in a government he leads she’d be gone," he said.

"She, at the end of the day, is a very senior minister and she’s the first one to constantly remind us she can’t talk about things because of legal process, so observe the process of being a Cabinet minister, it’s pretty simple.

"Grant Robertson is going to continue to dig at this. There’s all sorts of all rumours swirling, does she actually live at Paritai Drive [where the Hotchin mansion is]?

"There’s all sorts of rumours swirling around Wellington that she’s living there."

- Fairfax Media

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