Claire Trevett

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

Colourful Twitter feed falls silent once more

Justice Minister Judith Collins. Photo / Getty Images
Justice Minister Judith Collins. Photo / Getty Images

The last time Judith Collins' Twitter account fell silent was during the trip to China on which she visited Oravida's offices and dined with its chief executive and a Chinese official.

The Chinese Government's ban on Twitter meant her tweets were scarce. Now it has fallen silent again, after Ms Collins deemed Twitter was "not a good space to be" after the fallout from that trip to China.

Her retreat came as a relief to the Prime Minister, who said Twitter was "one of the big factors" that pushed Ms Collins into the state she was in and resulted in him sending her on leave. "There's a lot of trolls and bottom-feeders on that. In the end they get in people's heads ... it's a form of cyber bullying."

It is not the first time he has been asked about Ms Collins' use of Twitter. In February, a tweet about Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei's jackets being "vile, ugly and wrong" escalated into a much larger brawl. The Prime Minister said he would not rein her in: "I think she takes a lot of flak but I think she can give quite a bit as well, that's the nature of the beast."

Ms Collins' sometimes aggressive approach led to claims that the minister responsible for the anti-cyberbullying law was verging on it herself.

Her final tweet was an apology to TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford, who she claimed tried to get her to intervene in the plight of a family member - a claim she later retracted. Ms Collins yesterday said it was prompted by her desire to protect Maurice Williamson and was "the worst day I have ever had".

Labour MP Trevor Mallard, also a prolific tweeter, said it was probably wise for Ms Collins to withdraw. "She was certainly very aggressive on Twitter on a number of occasions. The Bradford stuff is an example of bullying. This is not Tau Henare here. This is a minister in charge of the judicial system and a different standard applies."

Ms Collins' Twitter account veers from soapbox to barneys with left-wing activists, to cricket commentary. There are photos of her vertical gardens and questions to Maggie Barry about holes in her cabbages. She was open about who she liked (Shane Jones, the Mad Butcher) and who she didn't ("Cunners" and the Green Party, other than Kevin Hague.)

She moved swiftly to block people she didn't like. She also took on media she felt had treated her badly.

But Ms Collins' 5651 followers need not give up. She hasn't ruled out a return.

- NZ Herald

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