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No further action by PM over Judith Collins

By ONE News political editor Corin Dann in Beijing

Published: 6:06AM Thursday March 20, 2014 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key says he has looked into the latest claims around Judith Collins' now infamous Oravida dinner in Shanghai last year.

In response to questions in Parliament, Ms Collins said yesterday that she knew in the week prior to her trip last year that a Chinese border official would join herself and Oravida bosses at the dinner but she made this clear to the Prime Minister when the issue was first raised last week.

Mr Key says he does not believe there are any inconsistencies with what Ms Collins said in Parliament and what she told him about the dinner last Wednesday. He says he does not plan to take the matter any further.

The Justice Minister has come under intense scrutiny over her dealings with milk exporter Oravida, which included the dinner date with two heads of the company and a Chinese border official.

Her husband is a director of the company and Labour says there has been a clear conflict of interest.

When questioned yesterday by Labour MP Grant Robertson about why she did not advise the Prime Minister about the meetings, Ms Collins said she regretted not giving more information to Mr Key sooner but said the accusations were nothing new as she had told Mr Key all the details of the dinner last week.

She has described Labour's latest claims as desperate.

Ms Collins has repeatedly denied the dinner party discussed easing access into China for Oravida's products or that there was any conflict of interest.

The dinner was one of three private meetings Ms Collins had with Oravida leaders during a taxpayer-funded trip that cost $36,000.

Last week, Ms Collins said she wouldn't reveal who paid for the dinner because "that would be exceptionally rude in any culture".

Dinner meet and greet

Meanwhile, the owner of Oravida Stone Shi attended a milk exporter's dinner in Beijing last night and shook hands with the Prime Minister.

Mr Shi and the managing director of Oravida, Julia Shu, declined to comment on the political controversy involving Ms Collins.

When questioned by ONE News Julia Shu said she had come to the dinner to help promote New Zealand trade.

Mr Key insists Mr Shi is a legitimate businessman who had every right to be at the dinner.