21 Aug 2014

Judith Collins focus 'drowns' policy debate

7:59 am on 21 August 2014

Some of the smaller parties say policy debates are being drowned out by the clamour surrounding the behaviour of Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Media surround Judith Collins before she enters the debating chamber..

Judith Collins questioned by journalists over Oravida in May Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Watch John Key talking to the media in Masterton

With Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics, which detailed Ms Collins' leaking of private information to a blogger, now New Zealand's best seller, the spotlight on Ms Collins' shows no signs of dimming.

United Future is one of the party's supporting the National-led Government. Its leader, Peter Dunne, said he believes the public is tired of the focus on Ms Collins and wants to hear debates on policy and the direction New Zealand is heading in.

Mr Dunne said while the behaviour of Ms Collins is a matter for John Key to police he doesn't personally approve of it.

"I personally agree with the comment Bill English made. I don't think it's acceptable, proper or appropriate but that's a matter for the Prime Minister to deal with as part of his Cabinet management."

ACT leader Jamie Whyte also believes the focus on Ms Collins is a major political distraction but doesn't think it will end soon.

Dr Whyte thinks Mr Key is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Ms Collins.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the National Party is haemorrhaging voter support with the ongoing focus on Ms Collins.

He said she should have been sacked long ago over her dealings with the Chinese food company Oravida.

Te Ururoa Flavell, leader of another of National's partners, the Maori Party, said the focus on Ms Collins' hasn't been getting in the way of its electioneering, and not many people he's been meeting are talking about it.

Prime Minister John Key.

Prime Minister John Key. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

No need for further action - PM

Mr Key reiterated yesterday there was no need for further action against the Justice Minister, telling reporters had been held responsible.

He declined to say how Ms Collins had been held responsible, but told reporters he did not believe Ms Collins had breached the Cabinet Manual and there was no need for her to be dismissed from Cabinet.

Mr Key said voters will realise he is prepared to take action against Ministers if necessary, as he did with Maurice Williamson.

"I think in the end as Prime Minister you have to judge a whole range of issues and some issues that happen with Cabinet ministers are serious, some are less serious but still areas that you need to address.

"I think over the time of being Prime Minister people would have looked at the actions I've taken. They'll know that I run a pretty tight ship."

In the week since its launch, Dirty Politics has sold 10,000 copies and is rated top of the Nielsen Bookscan which lists sales in New Zealand.

Craig Potton Publishing is having more copies printed and co-owner Robbie Burton said the printers have been working through the night and weekend.