Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Judith Collins to stay off Twitter: 'It's not a good space to be'

Judith Collins, seen here with MP Jamie-Lee Ross during the National Party Northern Convention at the weekend, is switching off Twitter. But for how long? Photo / Dean Purcell
Judith Collins, seen here with MP Jamie-Lee Ross during the National Party Northern Convention at the weekend, is switching off Twitter. But for how long? Photo / Dean Purcell

Prolific and combative tweeter Judith Collins is quitting the Twittersphere - saying it's "not a good space to be".

The embattled minister has agreed with Prime Minister John Key that she will stay off the social media platform which Mr Key says has been "a big factor" in her mounting problems.

Ms Collins has also agreed to take a few days off late this week and early next week as a respite from the stress of ongoing attacks from the Opposition over the Oravida conflict of interest affair.

Read more of the Herald's coverage of Judith Collins today:
New claims as Collins steps back
John Armstrong: Pushing drama aside may be hoping for too much

Ms Collins said Twitter was "not a good space to be".

"It is actually a forum where people can be very abusive towards me and I'm just not doing it."

Signs of that strain she is under became apparent over the weekend when she lashed out at TVNZ press gallery reporter Katie Bradford. Ms Collins initially attacked Bradford on Twitter where she has a reputation for being feisty and acidic.

She said Sunday's National's Northern Regional Conference was "the worst day I've ever had and I was absolutely wrong".

Ms Collins she had become very upset at seeing her former Cabinet colleague Maurice Williamson in a visibly distressed state during television interviews over the weekend.

But"I shouldn't' have hit out like that. I was wrong. I shouldn't have done it."

Asked about her threat to dish more dirt on press gallery reporters, Ms Collins again said "that was a really bad day, I shouldn't have gone there".

Commenting on Ms Collins upcoming time out, Mr Key said that while he had not ordered her off the social networking site, "she's volunteered, actually she said to me she's going to stay off Twitter".

Asked whether Ms Collins' often aggressive presence had led her into stoushes on Twitter that had contributed to her stress levels, Mr Key it had been "one of the big factors".

"She's engaged with people who have been engaging with her and just spending too much time focused on that and actually not enough time on the other issues."

"My view of that social media is there's a lot of trolls and bottom feeders on that. In the end they get in people's head. It's an anonymous sort of situation it's a form of cyber bullying, I don't engage in that."

Ms Collins told reporters this morning that she had agreed with Mr Key "that it's time for me to take a couple of days and regroup with my family".

"I think that's good advice. I've been very busy and it's good to do that."

But first, Ms Collins must survive two days of questions in the House from the Opposition which will target her over the recent dump of MFAT documents about her visit to China last year where she met with Oravida's bosses and a unnamed Chinese border control official.

She will also face questions from NZ First Leader Winston Peters about his claims that Oravida which had been having problems with its milk exports to China gained a key Chinese import certificate for its products following her dinner with the official.

But Ms Collins said the documents "back up what I've said on numerous occasions over the last couple of months".

Mr Key said Mr Peters claims lacked substance.

"It's typical Winston Peters isn't it. Try and put out a couple of dots and see if people will join them, say it a hushed tone to make it sound more sinister. The advice I've had from MPI is it's a stock standard certificate."

Mr Key confirmed that his chief of staff Wayne Eagleson had spoken with Ms Collins staff yesterday but said that was "all part of pastoral care to make sure they're all ok" rather than to check their version of events against the MFAT documents.

Ms Collins told reporters she now regretted her meetings with Oravida bosses during her trip to China late last year.

"You know I really do. I think that unfortunately it's caused a lot of stress for a lot of people particularly for the Prime Minister my colleagues."

Labour Leader David Cunliffe said it was "unacceptable for a Minister of the Crown to personally attack a member of the press gallery and we also think this minister has an obvious and sustained conflict of interest upon which more detail will emerge over the next few weeks''.

"The Prime Minister needs to front up and say why he's not treating this minister the same as Maurice Williamson.''

- NZ Herald

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