Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Envoy kept tabs on Judith Collins in China

Ambassador to China had asked minister to inform him what was discussed at dinner.

Judith Collins insists the Beijing dinner was a private occasion. Photo / Michael Craig
Judith Collins insists the Beijing dinner was a private occasion. Photo / Michael Craig

New Zealand's ambassador to China, Carl Worker, asked Judith Collins to tell him of anything he needed to know about the Beijing dinner with an unnamed senior Chinese border control official, which the Justice Minister insists was a private social occasion.

Ms Collins has refused to answer questions about the dinner late last year, attended by her friends and Oravida bosses Stone Shi and Julia Xu, on the grounds it was a private dinner.

But after denying in Parliament last week that she had spoken about the dinner with Mr Worker, she later told the Herald that she had not only discussed it with him afterwards, but he had also asked her to keep him informed of what was discussed.

"He'd said to me on the Sunday, just let him know if there was anything he needed to know about."

Mr Worker did not want to comment directly, referring the Herald's questions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The dinner has helped fan claims of a conflict of interest given Ms Collins' husband, David Wong Tung, is on Oravida's board and the company was seeking ministerial assistance to intervene with Chinese officials over difficulties it was having importing milk into China following the Fonterra botulism scare.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said he didn't have details of Ms Collins' discussions with Mr Worker about the dinner.

He said that if it was proved Ms Collins misled Parliament over her discussions she would have to formally correct her answers.

However, the details around the saga that had emerged in recent days changed little about it overall.

"There was a perception of a conflict of interest that was raised, the minister I'm sure will manage that better in the future."

- NZ Herald

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