Judith Collins

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For the American folk singer, see Judy Collins.
Judith Collins
MP
The Honourable Judith Collins MP.jpg
Judith Collins
Minister of Police
In office
19 November 2008 – 12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Annette King
Succeeded by Anne Tolley
Minister of Corrections
In office
19 November 2008 – 12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Phil Goff
Succeeded by Anne Tolley
Minister of Veterans' Affairs
In office
19 November 2008 – 12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Rick Barker
Succeeded by Nathan Guy
Minister of Justice
In office
12 December 2011 – 30 August 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Simon Power
Succeeded by Amy Adams
Minister for ACC
In office
12 December 2011 – 30 August 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Nick Smith
Succeeded by Nikki Kaye
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Clevedon
In office
2002–2008
Majority 12,871 (34.9%)
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Papakura
Incumbent
Assumed office
2008
Majority 10,277 (32.6%)
Personal details
Born (1959-02-24) 24 February 1959 (age 55)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Political party National Party (1999 – present)
Spouse(s) David Wong Tung
Children James
Occupation Lawyer
Signature

Judith Anne Collins (born 24 February 1959) is a New Zealand politician and lawyer. Born in Hamilton and now residing in Auckland, she graduated in law and taxation and worked in this field from 1981 until 2002, including running her own practice for a decade. She entered Parliament in 2002 election as an electorate MP for the centre-right National Party, and became a Cabinet minister when National came into government in 2008. Her Initial ministerial roles were Police, Corrections and Veterans' Affairs. After the 2011 election, her portfolios changed to Justice (including responsibility for the Law Commission), Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Ethnic Affairs. With a fifth-placed ranking, she was the highest ranked woman in the current Cabinet. She resigned from Cabinet on 30 August 2014 following email leaks alleging she had undermined the head of the Serious Fraud Office when she was the Minister responsible for that organisation.

Early life and career[edit]

Collins was born in Hamilton. Her parents were dairy farmers Percy and Jessie Collins of Walton in the Waikato and she was the youngest of six children attending Walton Primary School.[1] In 1977 and 1978 she studied at the University of Canterbury. In 1979 she switched to the University of Auckland, and obtained first an LLB and then a LLM (Hons) and later a Master of Taxation Studies (MTaxS). She met her husband, part-Samoan[2] David Wong Tung, at university. He was then a police officer and had migrated from Samoa as a child. They have one son.[1]

Early in her married life, she and her husband briefly owned a restaurant, Dr Dudding's Restaurant at Hauraki Corner, Takapuna.[citation needed] She initially supported the Labour Party, but joined the National Party in 1999.[2][3] Collins was previously a member of Zonta International and of Rotary International.[4]

Professional career[edit]

After leaving university, she worked as a lawyer, specialising in employment, property, commercial, and tax law. She worked as a solicitor for four different firms between 1981 and 1990, and then became principal of her own firm, Judith Collins & Associates (1990–2000). In the last two years before election to Parliament, she worked as special counsel for Minter Ellison Rudd Watts (2000–2002).[4]

She was active in legal associations, and was President of the Auckland District Law Society and Vice-President of the New Zealand Law Society (1998). She served as chairperson of the Casino Control Authority (1999–2002) and was a director of Housing New Zealand Limited (1999–2001).[4]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
2002–2005 47th Clevedon 48 National
2005–2008 48th Clevedon 12 National
2008–2011 49th Papakura 7 National
2011–2014 50th Papakura 7 National
2014 – present 51st Papakura 6 National

Collins was elected to Parliament in the 2002 election as National MP for Clevedon. Clevedon, although technically a new electorate, was largely based on the old Hunua electorate, held by National's Warren Kyd.[5]

In Parliament, Collins became National's Associate Spokesperson on Health and Spokesperson on Internal Affairs. In 2003, these responsibilities were changed for those of Associate Spokesperson on Justice and Spokesperson on Tourism. She was generally regarded as having performed well and when Katherine Rich refused to give full support to the "tough-on-welfare" Orewa Speech by then-party leader Don Brash, Rich was demoted in February 2005 and Collins became National's spokesperson on Social Welfare instead.[6] Collins then served as spokesperson on Family, and spokesperson on Pacific Island Affairs.

Collins' Clevedon electorate disappeared under boundary changes for the 2008 election. She originally announced her intention to seek the National Party nomination for Howick, which comprises the urban part of her former Clevedon electorate. However, following objections made to the Electoral Commission over draft changes to the boundaries that saw a major redrawing of the adjacent constituency Pakuranga, the draft Howick was redrawn and renamed Botany. Collins then sought and won the nomination for Papakura (which comprises the other half of her former Clevedon electorate) and allowed her colleague, National Party MP Pansy Wong to seek nomination for Botany. Collins won Papakura with a majority of more than 10,000.[7] The National Party formed a government and Collins entered Cabinet with the portfolios of Police, Corrections and Veterans' Affairs. After the 2011 election she was appointed Minister of Justice, Minister of Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Minister of Ethnic Affairs and with a Cabinet ranking of five, was the highest ranked woman.[8]

Opposition[edit]

In 2003, while in opposition Collins campaigned for an inquiry to find out whether New Zealand troops were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and if so any effect this subsequently had.[9] Despite previous inquiries stating otherwise, the committee established that troops were exposed to defoliant chemicals during their service in Vietnam, and therefore operated in a toxic environment.[10] This led to an apology in 2004 from the Government to Veterans and the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support veterans.[11] In 2004 Collins was awarded the Ex-Vietnam Services Association Pin as a result of campaigning for the inquiry.[9]

Minister of Corrections[edit]

In 2009, Collins questioned the leadership of, and later refused to express confidence in the Department of Corrections chief executive, Barry Matthews after a spate of bad publicity.[12] However after an enquiry by the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, Matthews kept his job because Corrections had made efforts to improve and had warned the government of the day and the previous government that under-resourcing was putting public safety at risk.[13]

Collins increased the availability of work programmes in prison,[14] and increased funding to widen the availability of alcohol and drug treatment programmes. Corrections built three new Drug Treatment Units and introducing condensed treatment programmes for prisoners serving shorter sentences.[15] Collins also oversaw completion of the new prison in Mount Eden, Auckland and after recommendation from the Department of Corrections awarded the private management contract for the new prison to the British company, Serco. This was the first prison since 2005 to be managed by a private sector contractor.[16][17]

In June 2010, Collins announced that from 1 July 2011[18] smoking and possessing lighters in prison would be banned to reduce the risk that smoking and fire presented to prison guards and prisoners.[19] This ban was subsequently successfully challenged in court on two occasions, resulting in a law change to maintain it.[20][21]

Minister of Police[edit]

Following a Police trial of tasers in 2006-07, Collins supported their introduction by then Police Commissioner Howard Broad.[22] In the 2009 budget she announced $NZ10 million worth of funding to complete a nation-wide taser roll out to all Police Districts,[23] and since then has advocated that the Police be given further discretion about when they can equip themselves with tasers.[24] She has also supported increased access to firearms for frontline officers, by equipping all front-line police vehicles with lock boxes for firearms, but does not support the full-time general arming of Police officers.[25]

During her early years in parliament Collins developed a reputation for tough talking and in 2009, was nicknamed Crusher Collins when she proposed legislation to 'crush' the cars of persistent boy racers.[26] Collins described herself as the minister "who brought back deterrence".[27][28][29]

Minister of Justice[edit]

In 2012, Collins moderated the cutbacks to legal aid begun by her predecessor, Simon Power. She reduced the charges for family and civil cases, delayed the period before interest is charged on outstanding legal aid debt and dropped a proposal to make it harder to get legal aid for less serious crimes such as theft, assault or careless driving.[30] She did however retain fixed fees for criminal work and the rotation of the legal aid to lawyers in all but the most serious cases, which attracted criticism from some lawyers.[31]

After a two-year investigation the Law Commission produced a report for government with 153 recommendations to reform New Zealand’s alcohol laws. While some legislative changes were passed in December 2012, the Opposition and health sector lobbyists say the evidence based advice from the Commission was disregarded by Collins and her predecessor Simon Power with the result that the final legislation "was a pale imitation of the landmark Law Commission report it was based on."[32] Examples include Collins originally announcing a ban in May 2012 of RTDs (ready-to-drink) with 6 per cent alcohol or more from off-licenses. However in the face of criticism from the liquor industry, she back-tracked on this ban, and three months later announced that the industry would develop its own voluntary code "to limit the harm to young people caused by RTDs".[33] The Commission also recommended a 50 per cent tax increase on alcohol (which was dismissed immediately by the Government) and an increase in the purchase age, which was also dismissed after a conscience vote in September 2012.[32] Collins herself voted to raise the purchase age.[34] Overall Collins said "the reforms struck a sensible balance by reducing the serious harm caused by alcohol without penalising people who drank responsibly."[32] The Labour Party and Professor Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action[35] stated that the changes were weak and would do little to reduce the harm caused by binge drinking. Sellman said: "It's called the Alcohol Reform Bill but it has no reforms in it".[36]

In December 2012, Collins revealed she had concerns about the robustness of a report authored by retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie, which recommended that David Bain should be paid compensation for the 13 years he spent in prison before being found not guilty at retrial in 2009.[37] The report had been presented to Collins on 31 August 2012, but the dispute only became public after Binnie threatened to release the report on his own.[38] Collins had provided a copy of the report to the police and the Solicitor-General and ordered a peer review by a former New Zealand High Court judge, Robert Fisher, sending a "34-point list of issues attacking the case" along with her letter of instruction.[39] She did not provide a copy of Binnie's report to Bain's legal team. This fact, combined with the circumstances around the peer review by Fisher, led to accusations from Bain's team and from Justice Binnie that Collins was not following an "even handed process".[40] Collins subsequently released the reports publicly.[41] A month later, Mr Bain filed a claim in the High Court seeking a review of Collins' actions. The claim alleges Collins breached natural justice and the Bill of Rights Act in her treatment of him and that she "acted in bad faith, abused her power, and acted in a biased, unreasonable and predetermined manner".[42]

Minister for ACC[edit]

In August 2011, a significant privacy breach occurred at the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) following the accidental release of 6700 claimants details to ACC claimant, Bronwyn Pullar.[43] Following the breach, Collins wanted a change in the culture at ACC to make "privacy and information security" the most important focus. As part of these changes the board chair, John Judge did not have his tenure on the board renewed,[44] and the chief executive Ralph Stewart resigned the next day.[45] In May 2012, Collins sued Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little for defamation over comments they made on Radio New Zealand linking her to the leak of an email from Michelle Boag about Pullar's case.[46] The case was settled after a High Court hearing in November 2012.[47]

Resignation from ministerial positions[edit]

In March 2014, Collins was accused of a conflict of interest after an overseas trip where she 'dropped in' and endorsed the milk produced by Oravida - a New Zealand company which exports to China - of which her husband is a director. After being admonished by the Prime Minister, Collins apologised and stated that she and a Chinese executive were 'very close personal friends'.[48][49][50] Over the following weeks the Labour Party continued asking who the Chinese official was. Collins did not provide his name, which House speaker David Carter described as "very unsatisfactory".[51] Prime Minister John Key stated publicly that Judith Collins was on her final warning over this incident.[52]

In August 2014 the book Dirty Politics, written by Nicky Hager, revealed that Collins was friends with right-wing blogger Cameron Slater and had passed on private information to him about Simon Pleasants, a public servant at Internal Affairs. Collins believed Pleasants had leaked information about Deputy Prime Minister Bill English misusing his housing allowance. Slater published Mr Pleasant's name and details on his blog as well as the abuse and death threats that were subsequently directed at Mr Pleasants.[53] A 3News-Reid Research poll taken at the time revealed that 63% of voters believed Prime Minister John Key should have stood Collins down over this incident.[54] Mr Key said Collins had been 'unwise' and placed on her second final warning.[55]

On 30 August 2014 Collins resigned her Cabinet positions following the leak of another email written by Slater in 2011 which suggested she had also attempted to undermine another public servant, Adam Feeley. Feeley was Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time. Collins says she resigned because she believed the attacks on her had become a distraction for the National party leading up to the election. She called for an inquiry so she can clear her name.[56]

After Cabinet[edit]

After the 2014 election, John Key left Collins off the "Roll of the Honourables" due to the ongoing inquiry into her role with Adam Feeley. This leaves her ineligible to use the title "Honourable".[57] Collins expressed surprise about having found out about the decision through the media,[58] and John Key admitted that his decision should have been explained to Collins.[59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Judith Collins (30 August 2002). "Maiden speech" (Press release). Scoop. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Clifton, Jane (18–24 March 2006). "Leader of the pack". Listener 202 (3436). Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Orsman, Bernard (8 May 2002). "National purge sweeps into safe seat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Hon Judith Collins". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Tunnah, Helen (11 May 2002). "National Party puts Kyd out in wilderness". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Hager 2006, p. 145.
  7. ^ "Official Count Results -- Papakura". Wellington: Chief Electoral Office. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Collins, Judith. "Hon Judith Collins - Biography". New Zealand National Party. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Swing seats: Papakura new battleground". One News. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Chadwick, Steve. "Inquiry into the exposure of New Zealand defence personnel to Agent Orange and other defoliant chemicals during the Vietnam War and any health effects of that exposure, and transcripts of evidence: Report of the Health Committee". House of Representatives. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Joint Working Group on Concerns of Viet Nam Veterans". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Cheng, Derek (21 December 2010). "Prisons boss ends six years' hard labour". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Espiner, Colin (10 March 2009). "Head survives and dept in line to get more cash". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Prisoner Employment". Department of Corrections. Retrieved 29 December 2012. "The Department is developing a new strategy to boost the number of prisoners learning industry-based skills by a further 1,000 prisoners by 2011. Part of that strategy will involve engaging with private companies about meaningful work and training for prisoners." 
  15. ^ Department of Corrections 2009, p. 2.
  16. ^ "Mt Eden/ACRP contract manager announced" (Press release). NZ government. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Minister opens new Mt Eden Corrections Facility" (Press release). NZ government. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Prisoner smoking ban set for 1 July 2011" (Press release). Department of Corrections. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Dickison, Michael (28 June 2010). "Prison smoking ban to kick in next July". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Koubaridis, Andrew (24 December 2012). "Prison smokes ban ruled unlawful". The New Zealand Herald. 
  21. ^ "Tobacco victory goes up in a puff of smoke". The New Zealand Herald. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Houlahan, Mike (21 May 2009). "No halt to Taser roll-out". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Budget 2009: Judith Collins - $10 million to complete national taser roll out" (Press release). beehive.govt.nz. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Cheng, Derek (7 April 2011). "Collins calls for police discretion in taser use". NZ Herald. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Martin Kay, Andrea Vance (14 October 2010). "Easier gun access likely for police". The Press. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  26. ^ Kay, Martin (2 March 2009). "'Crusher Collins' vows to take no prisoners". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  27. ^ Trevett, Claire (27 October 2012). "Crusher Collins' eye on reform". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  28. ^ Leask, Anna (12 October 2012). "Call to close three-strikes loophole". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  29. ^ Department of Corrections 2001, p. 10.
  30. ^ Davison, Isaac (9 October 2012). "Legal aid law changes watered down". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  31. ^ a b c Davison, Isaac (12 December 2012). "Alcohol reforms 'watered down'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  32. ^ Hartevelt, John (23 August 2012). "6% alcohol limit for RTDs dumped". The Press. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  33. ^ Newstalk ZB staff (30 August 2012). "Drinking age: How MPs voted". Newstalk ZB. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  34. ^ http://www.alcoholaction.co.nz/
  35. ^ Television New Zealand staff (12 December 2012). "'Hollow' Alcohol Reform Bill criticised by opponents". One News. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  36. ^ NZN (11 December 2012). "Bain report lacking - Collins". 3 News. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  37. ^ "Bain case: How compensation claim unravelled". The New Zealand Herald. 27 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "Collins sent 34 'concerns' to reviewer of Bain case". The New Zealand Herald. 29 June 2013. 
  39. ^ APNZ (12 December 2012). "Binnie hits back at Bain report critics". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  40. ^ Department of Justice. "Release of Bain reports". Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  41. ^ Quilliam, Rebecca (30 January 2013). "Bain takes High Court action against Collins". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  42. ^ "Who is Bronwyn Pullar?". 3 News. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  43. ^ Vance, Andrea (12 June 2012). "ACC Board chair John Judge goes". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  44. ^ Hartevelt, John (13 June 2012). "ACC boss resigns amid political pressure". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  45. ^ "Mallard served papers by faux-constituent". 3 News. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  46. ^ Bennett, Adam (14 November 2012). "Judith Collins defamation case settled". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  47. ^ Adams, Christopher (14 March 2014). "Collins dinner great for Oravida". The New Zealand Herald. 
  48. ^ Bennett, Adam (13 March 2014). "Two strikes and Collins will be out". The New Zealand Herald. 
  49. ^ Claire Trevett, Adam Bennett, Isaac Davison. "Collins handled situation 'very poorly' - PM". The New Zealand Herald. 
  50. ^ Collins' defiance over Oravida upsets Speaker, NZ Herald, 11 April 2014
  51. ^ Judith Collins comes clean about dinner, Stuff 12 March 2014
  52. ^ "Key, English distance themselves from Collins". Radio New Zealand. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  53. ^ 3News-Reid Research poll sees big post-Hager bounce for Conservatives, The National Business review 27 August 2014
  54. ^ PM's 'last chance' for Collins over blog link, NZ Herald, 20 August 2014
  55. ^ Cheng, Derek (30 August 2014). "Judith Collins resigns". The New Zealand Herald. 
  56. ^ Adam Bennett, Claire Trevett (14 October 2014). "Judith Collins loses 'Honourable' title". The New Zealand Herald. 
  57. ^ Bennett, Adam; Trevett, Claire (14 October 2014). "Judith Collins loses 'Honourable' title". Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  58. ^ "John Key: We should have explained Honourable decision to Judith Collins". One News. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Clevedon
2002–2008
Constituency abolished
Vacant
Constituency recreated after abolition in 1996
Title last held by
John Robertson
Member of Parliament for Papakura
2008–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Annette King
Minister of Police
2008–2011
Succeeded by
Anne Tolley
Preceded by
Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections
2008–2011
Preceded by
Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans' Affairs
2008–2011
Succeeded by
Nathan Guy
Preceded by
Simon Power
Minister of Justice
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Chris Finlayson(Acting)
Incumbent
Preceded by
Nick Smith
Minister for ACC
2011–present
Preceded by
Hekia Parata
Minister of Ethnic Affairs
2011–present