Labour is preparing to go for the jugular when Justice Minister Judith Collins faces the House today.
She is set to face Question Time after a two-week recess, during which official documents were released outlining the planning that went into a dinner Collins held with executives of Chinese company Oravida and a Chinese border control official, while on a taxpayer-funded trip to China.
I doubt Collins is going to get ‘crushed’ in Question Time. She’ll say that she’s been cleared by the Cabinet Office. Robertson and Peters will insist that she’s mislead the House. The Speaker will tell them off for asking ‘political questions’ (If you’ve never watched Parliament’s Question Time with David Carter as Speaker you might think I’m joking there, but no) and threaten to remove them from the chamber. Onto the next question.
One of the most insightful things I’ve read about Collins is Rob Hosking’s piece in the NBR – it’s behind the paywall, so I can’t link to or quote from it. Rob points out that in her political career Collins is very much playing a larger than life role but, paradoxically, that role is no nonsense, straight-talking ‘Crusher Collins'; so she’s putting on a show by pretending to be genuine, and constantly drawing attention to this. Most of her current problems, Hosking argues, stem from her fidelity to this performance.
Hosking’s column also wonders where the ‘Crusher’ nickname came from. The media? Herself? Or a staffer? I don’t know – it bobbed up in National’s first term when Collins introduced her car crushing legislation. That first term was a very, very good time for Judith Collins. It’s where she refined the ‘Crusher’ persona that the media and factions of the National Party were so smitten with for so long. Apparently when Collins was introduced at the Young Nats ball the regional leader received an ovation when he declared ‘I love that woman more than sharks love blood.’ It’s a line from the mediocre US reboot of House of Cards, but it demonstrates the affection felt for’ Crusher’ within elements of her own party.
Only . . . we haven’t seen much of Crusher in the last two and a half years. We’ve seen a faltering MP who used to be Crusher attempting to live up to her own legend and damaging herself even further in the process. I don’t know what happened, but in her first term Collins was advised by a very clever, very cunning press secretary – one easily capable of devising the ‘Crusher’ nickname and the persona that grew up around it – who left Parliament after the last election and went to work in the banking industry. When Nats say that they love ‘Crusher’, they’re probably expressing their devotion towards a fictional character created by a middle-aged man who no longer even works for the National Party.