Judith Collins: Cunliffe is a moron
Just days after resigning as a government minister, Judith Collins has branded the hacker behind her downfall a "criminal" and slated Labour leader David Cunliffe as a moron.
Collins, in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, says she is "sick of this nonsense", referring to the repeated allegations of impropriety against her, and declares she will be found innocent of any wrongdoing.
She resigned from her ministerial portfolios on Saturday after the release of a 2011 email which said she was "gunning for" Adam Feeley, who was then director of the Serious Fraud Office.
The email was originally sent by Whaleoil's Cameron Slater to a fellow blogger and a lobbyist and, along with other emails given to Fairfax Media, appeared to show former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin had paid for Slater and associates to run a campaign to discredit Feeley.
In the email Slater wrote that any information that could be provided to Collins about Feeley would be appreciated by her.
Collins was not part of the email exchange.
However, she said she saw no other option but to hand in her resignation as justice and ACC minister. Not because she felt guilty, but to clear her name, she said.
Collins refused to go into details about the emails, saying she did not want to prejudice the pending inquiry or be disrespectful of those leading it.
"I can tell you I am completely innocent of the allegations made in the media and elsewhere and by my opponents. I will be exonerated."
Collins has been the subject of repeated controversies this year, starting with her dinners with the Oravida company in China and followed by a chapter dedicated to her in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics, which detailed the release of public servant Simon Pleasants' private information to Slater.
She dismissed all criticism of her on those issues, saying no proof had been provided showing she had acted inappropriately.
"Oravida - nothing. Pleasants - nothing. He's never made a complaint. No private information. Absolute rubbish. What this is, is all about the SFO.
"That is what I'm very concerned about because that goes to my integrity and the one thing I have always protected is my reputation for integrity and I will defend this extremely strongly."
Collins says she first became friends with Slater through his parents.
"They were kind to me when I came into Parliament or when I first started in politics and so his family are friends with my husband and me."
Since Dirty Politics came out she has maintained a relationship with Slater, saying she never stops talking to her friends but she listens more than she talks.
She hasn't read Hager's book, saying she never tries to give financial benefits to people who receive stolen goods - a swipe at the hacker Rawshark, who obtained the emails which form the basis of the book. .
When asked about the hacker, she called him a criminal.
"Look, I'm not a minister now so I'm going to say that. I wouldn't say that as a minister. But as a local MP for Papakura, let me tell you, that's a criminal."
On Saturday morning Collins told Key she was resigning.
"I insisted on there being an inquiry into these allegations because I want my name cleared."
To stay on as a minister while the inquiry was being held would have been very difficult, she said. "Because I have such major roles, particularly in justice, it would make it almost impossible for me to be able to actually fight from my corner."
On Sunday, Cunliffe questioned the safety of documents in Collins' office ahead of the inquiry.
"The State Services Commission must order Ministerial Services to stop any computer files being deleted. Judith Collins' closest advisers have lost their jobs and should surrender their cell phones and lap tops."
Collins had a blunt rebuttal.
"The man's a moron, isn't he? Does he think people raced around with little notes? He's clearly a moron. Frankly, you know, one of the reasons I am so utterly determined to work every hour of the day and night I have got until the election is to make sure he's not the prime minister."
She is also looking at the silver lining of her resignation - more time to focus on her electorate of Papakura.
"Although I'm very disappointed I'm also very excited about getting back to my grassroots work."
Asked if she was disappointed in herself she said, "No, not at all. I'm very disappointed that I have been subject to this sort of behaviour and that I now need to clear myself."
The other National MPs, particularly the backbenchers, have been supportive.
"You have to realise politics is full of competitors. I am a relatively competitive person and I will confess to that one. But I also know that I very much enjoy a collegial attitude and atmosphere."
Collins is proud of her time in Parliament and in particular of the work she has done as a minister.
"You can't not be proud of the turnaround in the New Zealand police. I can't not be proud of the fact that I backed them every time I could, even when they were wrong.
"I didn't back them making a mistake but I backed them for actually fronting up to it and I think that is one of the best things I could have done."
Collins had a 10,000 vote majority in the 2011 election and is confident she "will be the MP for Papakura" after September 20.
"I think people have been very supportive and we're seeing it from the three meet-the-candidates meetings we have had so far. Nobody has raised any of the issues in the smear book of Nicky Hager's. Everyone has been focused on what's important."
Her closest rival, Labour's Jerome Mika, paints a different story.
"People that I'm meeting are saying they're shocked and disappointed by the abuse of power. The community needs strong leadership. Even in some of the areas that traditionally vote National, they are wanting to support us."