Judith Collins has been under fire this week and part of the Prime Minister’s defense of his MP has been her amazing prior performance as a Minister. And I think there’s something to that. Collins was one of the most media-genic Police and Corrections Ministers we’ve ever had. Crushing cars of boy-racers. Using shipping containers to house prisoners. Smoking bans in prisons. Rolling out tasers to police. National’s extraordinary first-term long media honeymoon was partly down to Collins and her tough-on crime rhetoric and daft but camera-friendly policy solutions.
But for the last three years Collins has been Minister of Justice. And if you look back through the news archives she’s been a pretty crappy Justice Minister.
- She caved on implementing the Law Commission’s recommendations on alcohol reform when the liquor industry lobbied the government.
- She’s being sued by David Bain for a judicial review of her botched handling of the Binnie report into his compensation.
- She ditched the MMP review claiming that the parties couldn’t reach consensus on it because she refused to negotiate with any of the other parties.
- She’s refused to consider a pardon in the Teina Pora case despite very convincing evidence of his innocence.
And its hard to find any positives to balance any of that out. She wants police to wear cameras which is a good idea, I guess.
Collins’ rival for the post-Key National leadership is Steven Joyce, who is also struggling. Novopay still isn’t fixed. The Sky City convention center is still a toxic disaster. None of the surveys for minerals or oil or gas ever find anything, and that’s Joyce’s one big plan to fix our economy. But at least he’s doing stuff even if none of it works out. Collins’ reputation as a tough super-Minister seems like a relic of her governments’ first term with nothing in her subsequent performance as Justice Minister to substantiate it.