Debate makes MP damaged goods

16:00, Mar 20 2014

The polls might be stacked against Labour at this stage but the way they have pursued the Judith Collins story over the milk company debate shows they are not out of the race by a long way.

Ironically what has come to light is Ms Collins, one of the star performers of the National Government, might now be deemed damaged goods and John Key needs to decide whether his loyal lieutenant is now a liability.

And the longer this story continues to linger, the worse it gets for Ms Collins and Mr Key.

Even the news that trade with China will increase from $20 billion to $30b over the next few years has been overshadowed by that dinner with the Oravinda hierarchy and an unknown Chinese official.

Most people would have thought the story had done its dash after Ms Collins was forced to apologise and correct her story over the now infamous dinner with Oravinda bosses in Beijing on a taxpayer funded trip.

She publicly apologised to the prime minister over not telling him everything about the dinner. She only did this after being pressured by the opposition.


Her next faux pas was telling Mr Key the dinner was on her way to the airport. End of story.

But Google Maps is an amazing tool and the opposition again seized on Ms Collins, pointing out that 80km is out of the way and giving the story more oxygen.

Now the opposition is demanding to know just who paid for the kai.

The best way to close a story down is by not giving it air because once it grows a life of its own it is taken to the next level.

So while the polls have been unkind to Labour, they can at least take some solace in that they have Ms Collins, in particular, on the ropes.

If there are any more sidebars to this story, then it will certainly be curtains for Crusher - named that after her controversial boy racer car crushing bill.

John Key was in China this week where instead of glowing in the glory of dining with the Chinese premier he was still being asked about the Oravinda dinner. Ms Collins' husband David Wong-Tung has been a director of Oravinda since 2011, complicating the matter even more.

It's been a quick downfall for Ms Collins, who has a reputation as a scrapper. She has often been called upon by Mr Key to push some tough lines for the Government and carry a lot of burden. Up until three weeks ago, she was a rising star, which is why she is the highest ranked female in the National Party.

But even stars fall from the sky and in Ms Collins' case, it might be just as Chicken Little said: "The sky is falling." Folk tale or real story?

Manukau Courier