Sorry is the hardest word

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014

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OPINION: Sorry is the hardest word when your name is Judith Collins.

Rob Muldoon had a saying about former Labour police minister Ann Hercus that the softest thing about her was her teeth – but that was because he did not know Collins.

As the justice minister herself admitted yesterday, saying sorry is not in her DNA.

‘‘What’s probably extraordinary is I am saying ’I apologise’,’’ Collins admitted.

‘‘That is extraordinary for me.’’

For a politician to confess that they have a problem admitting they are wrong, or saying sorry, is even more extraordinary.  It may be part of the hard as nails persona crafted by Collins and which helped earn her the nickname ‘‘Crusher’’.  But it is also an admission that she has a blindspot that could be her Achilles heel if her star continues to rise.

The most senior woman in John Key’s Cabinet, Collins is mentioned most often as the next National leader once the prime minister steps aside or is pushed, though she is seen as being in a fierce competition with Cabinet fixit-man Steven Joyce for that title.

That makes Key’s summoning of Collins to a meeting with his chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, on Wednesday night even more extraordinary.  

Collins would have been told to come armed with any documents, diaries or details that might further come out about her China trip and be used to embarrass the prime minister.  Key barely bothered to hide his fury yesterday at only finding out about the dinner with Oravida after that meeting.

You have to go back a long way, to Lianne Dalziel’s sacking as immigration minister in Helen Clark’s Cabinet, to remember such a senior minister being ticked off in such fashion.

The only difference in this case is that Collins was not asked to fall on her sword. But any more embarrassing disclosures would put Key under pressure to make good on his threat that she is on a final warning.

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- Fairfax Media

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