20 Mar 2014

Collins' statements consistent, says PM

9:27 am on 20 March 2014

Prime Minister John Key says he doesn't see any inconsistencies in what Judith Collins has said about a dinner she had in Beijing with dairy exporter Oravida and a senior Chinese border control official.

Judith Collins in the House on Tuesday.

Judith Collins in the House on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ

The Justice Minister has admitted she knew before she went to China last year she would be dining with her friends from Oravida, as well as the official.

The Labour Party said that revelation was new and it must be the last straw for the Prime Minister but Mr Key disagreed.

"I don't see any inconsistency with what she said to me on the Wednesday when she told me about the dinner that took place in China that I was unaware of and what she actually said in the House," Mr Key said. "I think the statements she's made have been very consistent."

The Prime Minister said: "The advice I got from the Cabinet officer was that it was the combination of all these different events which could lead to a perception of a conflict of interest.

"I think the minister's made it quite clear in hindsight that was a mistake but I don't think there's anything actually inconsistent with what she actually told me on the Wednesday when she informed me of the dinner."

Mr Key says as far as he knows all the information about the dinner is now out in the open.

Ms Collins has been accused of having a conflict of interest over her involvement with Oravida while on a taxpayer funded trip to China last year. The company is run by two of the minister's close friends and her husband is a director.

Ms Collins has already had to apologise to Mr Key after disclosing there was more to her trip than she had previously told him or the public and for not revealing the dinner earlier.

She has been accused of breaching Cabinet rules by visiting Oravida's office in Shanghai and praising its milk products

Mr Key, who greeted Oravida head Stone Shi at a function in Beijing on Wednesday night, was also asked by reporters about a round of golf he had with Mr Shi following a National Party fundraiser.

He said he often played games of golf as a fundraiser for the party and charity. Mr Shi did not answer questions from the media.

Meanwhile, Ms Collins has filed a complaint to Television New Zealand over its reporting of the latest chapter in her China dinner saga.

The minister says she told her side of the story to TVNZ but it was not used in its coverage on the six o'clock news and she has complained.