In the first of a week-long series on influential members of John Key's Government, political reporter Patrick Gower looks at Judith Collins' performance as Police and Corrections Minister in her first year in the Cabinet and explains why he rates the Aucklander 8 out of 10 overall.
Judith Collins clearly revels in her nickname "Crusher".
Based on her signature policy of crushing boy-racer cars, it also feeds into her self-styled image as the Government's hardwoman.
While politicians usually try to shed any perception of being flinty, Ms Collins has turbo-charged hers to fit with her dual ministerial roles of Police and Corrections.
Her political instincts were bang-on when she called for the crushing of cars in response to the public outcry over the vicious and cowardly attack by boy-racers on a Christchurch police officer this year.
Sure it was populist - but that also means popular.
It is now law that those convicted of a third illegal street racing offence within four years will face having their car crushed.
Or in Ms Collins' own words: "Every offence brings them one step closer to the Crusher."
It is one-liners like this that have seen her called a Clint Eastwood impressionist by her Labour opposite Clayton Cosgrove.
Whether crushing will have any real impact on the entrenched social phenomenon of boy-racer behaviour remains a moot point. It still showed a minister not just talking tough, but acting tough.
It is this no-nonsense approach and the accompanying swagger that have won people over to Ms Collins.
But her boots-first approach backfired when she gave Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews a theatrical public spanking following the release of the damning Auditor-General's report on parole.
She refused to express confidence in the much-maligned Mr Matthews in what initially looked like an attempt to drive him out of the troubled department.
The problem was that the barnacle-like Mr Matthews wasn't going anywhere.
The subsequent to-and-fro descended into farce, eventually going full circle with Mr Matthews staying on with Ms Collins' public backing.
It was technically a loss of face for Ms Collins. But the minutiae of the working relationship between minister and departmental chief executive were too arcane to resonate much beyond the beltway, and Ms Collins scraped out of the ruckus without it getting too messy and with the image of giving Mr Matthews a crowd-pleasing bollocking intact.
Ms Collins has comfortably managed the police portfolio, which largely ticks over of its own accord without the need for a hands-on minister. In fact, a lack of interference in its operational work shows good ministerial management. She can be pushy when needed - as when she forced a swift about-face from police when they stopped releasing names of convicted drink-drivers to media.
Frontline police feel Ms Collins is on their side. On a macro-level, they have watched her preside over National coming good on its promise to put more police on the streets of South Auckland. She has also taken their fears about organised crime seriously, as seen in last week's joint announcement with Commissioner Howard Broad about seizing the proceeds of crime.
On a micro-level, she is a proud Police Minister. Her empathy with police life was noted when Senior Constable Len Snee was murdered in the Napier siege, and she recalled her own time as a "police wife" when husband David Wong Tung was in the police and she wondered whether he would come home from work or not.
This image of a "minister for police" has helped quell criticism from the frontline about her budget restraints that led to large-scale cuts to the police car fleet and radical proposals such as selling police stations being floated.
Ms Collins has much greater problems with the Corrections portfolio, where the prison population is at crisis point with prisoners set to be kept overnight in prison vans if something is not done.
Her call to put prisoners in shipping containers was another headline-grabbing crowd pleaser, but the 60 beds that idea has provided thus far is hardly even a sticking plaster on the axe-wound of a problem.
National's law and order measures are further compounding the issue, and there are no concrete details yet of the new prison the party promised before the election.
The only solution is cramming in prisoners by double-bunking, which the heavily unionised guards are refusing to do.
Ms Collins has ended up firmly on the side of Corrections management who appear to be back to their bumbling best in threatening the guards with privatisation, and the prospect of the armed forces taking over the jails because of a strike/lockout in the new year looks increasingly real.
This shapes as her real test. The Corrections portfolio has been a graveyard for many a minister, and at some point Ms Collins will have to start taking responsibility for its problems if she cannot solve them.
The measure of Ms Collins' success this year has been her engagement with the public, who recognise her as one of Prime Minister John Key's most effective ministers, according to the first Herald-DigiPoll survey since the election.
Having carved herself a niche as National's hardliner, it was no mistake she was the minister who fronted at the almost-impossible-to-please Sensible Sentencing Trust's annual conference - where she got a warm welcome.
This image will allow her to play a powerful role for National as it tries to hold onto the image of being tough on law and order, something that becomes increasingly tricky the longer a party governs.
Labour may dismiss Ms Collins' Clint Eastwood impressions all it likes, but it was an acting style that created an enduring and popular icon.
* Tomorrow, social issues reporter Simon Collins assesses the performance of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.