The Korova Milkbar was a milk-plus mesto, and you may, O my brothers, have forgotten what these mestos were like, things changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read much neither. Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no license for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches which would give you a nice quick horrorshow 15 minutes admiring Bog And All His Holy Angels And Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg. Or you could peet milk with knives in it, as we used to say, and this would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of dirty 20-1, and that was what we were peeting this evening I’m starting off the story with…
– Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
You can see acceptable and unacceptable behavior as a set of Venn diagrams, with large circles of things you’re allowed to do intersecting with other circles of permissible behavior and the illegal and immoral falling into the shaded regions in-between. Alex in Clockwork Orange is allowed to drink milk plus and he’s allowed to drive a Durango 95, but not at the same time.
Politicians often seem to get caught-out in these shaded zones of intersecting permissible behavior and that’s where I think Judith Collins is right now with her troubles over visiting the offices of the Oravida company – of which her husband is a Director – on a trip to China last year. Collins explains that she just dropped by for a glass of milk on the way to the airport. Oravida’s website makes it look a little more formal.
Collins has also explained that there’s no conflict of interest here because her husband is a director of the company, not a shareholder. In a year of dumb, dumb spin I think this is the worst line any of Parliament’s comms experts have fed an MP and it’ll be tough to beat.
Anyway, it’s routine for Ministers to visit New Zealand companies overseas, routine for those companies to promote those visits, and it is also routine for New Zealand politicians to have family members involved in New Zealand business at a high level and it’s ALSO routine for New Zealand businesses to donate money to the National Party. Which I why – I think – Collins and her fellow Nats are a little bewildered at the suggestion that there’s something wrong about her taxpayer funded promotional visit to a company run by her husband that donated a large sum of money to the National Party, while everyone else stands around with their jaw open, stunned that the Minister of Justice could do something so stupid.