Collins' Oravida visit 'to increase profile'

  • Breaking
  • 05/05/2014

By 3 News online staff

A meeting brief for Justice Minister Judith Collins' controversial trip to Oravida's Shanghai office says the purpose of the visit was to "increase the profile" of the company.

Documents released under the Official Information Act relating to Ms Collins' October trip include an event briefing about the hour-long "visit and tour".

Under the "Purpose/objective" section, it reads: "To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China".

Along with Ms Collins, the ambassador to China, Consul-General, Ms Collins' private secretary and second secretary to the New Zealand embassy in Beijing were also listed as attending the event.

Labour Party MP Grant Robertson says the document shows what the party has believed from the outset.

"Judith Collins went out of her way on a taxpayer-funded justice trip to promote her husband’s company," he says.

"The Minister can no longer continue with her absurd claims she popped into Oravida’s Shanghai office for a 'cuppa' on her way to the airport."

He believes the documents prove a conflict of interest and must resign.

An email conversation between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade diplomats shows the New Zealand ambassador to China Carl Worker was invited to the dinner organised by Oravida boss Stone Shi, but was later told it was private and his attendance was not necessary.

An email dated October 15 invites Mr Worker and wife Connie Aldao-Worker to the dinner on behalf of Ms Collins.

But an email the next day says: "The dinner will be a private one. Your attendance is not expected or required".

Prime Minister John Key says the emails supported Ms Collins argument in insisting the dinner was private.

"Long before this issue was ever in the public domain or anyone ever asked a question, the email traffic shows very clearly this was referred to as a private meeting - that the ambassador wasn't coming because it was a private meeting. That wasn't an answer retrofitted to suit a political debate that happened some weeks later, it was in the email traffic that was happening along the way," he says.

Despite the sustained pressure from media and Opposition MPs, "nothing new has been introduced" in relation Ms Collins' interactions with the company, Mr Key says.

Mr Key says he knows the identity of the border agency official who was at the dinner, what they do specifically and who they work for. He would not reveal those details, only to say he was "very comfortable the situation is kosher".

3 News

source: newshub archive