So Crusher Collins has had her ministerial career squished just days before the polls first open. The media has gone a bit mad over the last 24 hours, no doubt some bearing bruises and half healed scars — trophies which make the schadenfreude a little more sweet.
Her ministerial warrant has been surrendered, and now Judith Collins is simply the MP for Papakura. She was placed at number 6 on the National Party list until this weekend, and a glance at the website (here) shows she has been erased from the list. To be clear she is still on the ballot in Papakura (at least right now), but should she fail to be elected there will be no safety net of the party vote to bring her back into Parliament. Her career would then be well and truly over.
In the papers today it was revealed that the blogger known as Cactus Kate (Cathy Odgers) had searched through her emails after she learned that Fairfax is investigating the hacked material used in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics. Several of the emails in Odgers possession seemed to implicate Judith Collins in a smear campaign against the Serious Fraud Office and its (then) CEO Adam Feeley in May 2011.
Although those particular emails had not been available to Fairfax, it would appear (I could certainly be wrong on this point) that Odgers panicked and let a staffer at the Beehive know. In any case one particular email from Cameron Slater — the boorish toady known as Whale Oil — made its way to Wayne Eagleson (John Key’s Chief of Staff) who showed it to the Prime Minister on Friday night. You can view (or not as it is rather poor quality) that email here.
That email then was the basis of the conversation on Saturday morning between Key and Collins in which she offered to resign from cabinet and he accepted her resignation. TVNZ’s Political Editor Corin Dann has said repeatedly over the last few days that National’s election campaign has gone off the rails, and that Collins exit has compounded that. He may well be right. But you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want my view so here it is: The stage looks set for a comeback.
In finally dealing with Collins on a Saturday morning, Key is giving the story a good chance to be dead and buried by mid-week. The dedicated politics shows like Q and A, and TV3’s The Nation, would have given the story a thorough airing regardless of when it broke, so getting that out of the way asap is a good move. Furthermore, an SIS hearing into the matter has been announced for September 11 (a fraction ominous), I quote Stuff;
“Fairfax understands those ordered to appear on September 11 include blogger Cameron Slater, Key, and members of his office including chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, Official Information Act guru Sara Boyle and former staffer Jason Ede, now based at National Party head quarters.”
Laying the affair at the feet of an official, nay, a ‘proper inquiry’, to use Key’s words, comfortably seals it away from himself, and his current ministry. This deprives David Cunliffe of a handy weapon for the Stuff/Press Leaders debate on Tuesday. In that debate it should be more clear whether ‘dirty politics’ will continue to upset the Prime Minister’s flow, and define this election in the crucial weeks ahead.
The spewing forth of information on the various money men and far-right wring schemers trying to destabilise moderate politicians and replace them with hollow-headed (and hearted) hacks like Mark Mitchell, will take a long time. It is true when people say that the left — indeed all sides and parties have their share of ‘dirty politics’, and it is reprehensible wherever it lies. We have found it again in the corridors of power, like a good gardeners we the people need to pull it out by the root.
On a lighter note, I haven’t yet seen the suffix ‘gate’, in reference to any of this. A little surprising perhaps all things considered. I guess it simply doesn’t fit grammatically (since when has poor grammar ever stopped the media!)
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