Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Collins in the clear over Oravida visit - Key

Photo / Michael Craig
Photo / Michael Craig

Justice Minister Judith Collins did not breach Cabinet rules when she visited her husband's company in China, according to advice given to Prime Minister John Key.

While Ms Collins was in China last October she visited the offices of Oravida, a New Zealand company which exports milk products to China. Her husband, David Wong Tung, is a director of Oravida and the company later put up a photo of Ms Collins claiming she had tasted and endorsed their products.

It is against Cabinet Manual rules to endorse any product. Labour MP Grant Robertson said there was a perception of a conflict of interest. "Ministers have to be up front. Perception matters.''

But Mr Key this afternoon said his office yesterday sought clarification from the Cabinet Office to ensure she hadn't broken the rules.

"They unequivocally came back and said no there's no breach."

A translation of a Chinese language report on Ms Collins' visit to the Oravida offices on the company's website says she tried the company's milk and "praised" it.

Mr Key said it was correct that Ministers shouldn't endorse products in their official business but the Cabinet Office didn't believe Ms Collins had endorsed the company's products.

"The fact the company might write down something, that happens all the time. I go to lots of things where I hold up things or say oh I use your toilet paper or whatever it might be, that's not deemed to be an endorsement."

Ms Collins also denied she had endorsed Oravida's products.

"Ministers are expected to assist New Zealand Inc whenever we are overseas and New Zealand milk is the best milk in the world and I'm very proud of it."

Ms Collins said she was not aware of the photo on Oravida's website and would ask for it to be removed if it breached Cabinet guidelines.

Oravida has donated to National in the past.

- NZ Herald

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