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Judith Collins says Sir John Key threw her under the bus during Oravida, Dirty Politics sagas in tell-all memoir

Judith Collins says Sir John Key “probably” liked her despite feeling like he threw her under the bus during the 2014 Oravida and Dirty Politics sagas.

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Judith Collins talks about her new political memoir, telling Q+A she felt thrown under the bus by former Prime Minister John Key. Source: Q+A

In a TV-exclusive discussing her new tell-all memoir Pull No Punches on TVNZ 1’s Q+A, Ms Collins said she’d forgiven Sir John since then, despite using the term he “threw me under the bus” in the book.

In 2014, Ms Collins was accused of a conflict of interest over undeclared meetings with Oravida bosses and a Chinese border official on a taxpayer-funded trip.

The Shanghai-based company, of which her husband was a director, supplies China with New Zealand-made food and milk.

Speaking about Oravida today, Ms Collins said the situation didn’t end up being about Oravida’s business, but about meat exports “that had been messed up by, basically, officials”. 

The meetings occurred after there were difficulties exporting milk to China in the wake of the Fonterra botulism food poisoning false alarm.

At the time, Ms Collins said she regretted the Oravida visit but denied she had helped the company with its exporting issues and said she didn’t know about it.

When asked why she used the term "thrown under the bus" in regards to Sir John in her memoir, Ms Collins said, at the time, “I felt it very much so”.

“So, he couldn’t remember the discussion that we’d had,” she said about Sir John regarding Oravida “months before”.

“I’d like to take him at his word he genuinely forgot, but later in the afternoon, he felt he could remember something."

Touching on the Dirty Politics saga in the lead up to the 2014 General Election, she said she felt “very disappointed in [Sir John]” at the time.

It was alleged at the time she was involved in a smear campaign against former Serious Fraud boss Adam Feeley after an email emerged which appeared to show a link to her. 

Ms Collins was later cleared of wrongdoing after an inquiry into Dirty Politics allegations.

Ms Collins said she didn’t feel “terribly bitter” but felt “let down”. She said Sir John was looking after himself and the party then.

“I also knew that he was making a decision because if he hadn’t done something … he could’ve lost the election and no longer been Prime Minister.”

The saga at the time cost Ms Collins, already a popular figure in the National Party at the time, her ministerial positions and her “Honourable” title. The title has since been restored.

She said she felt “terrible” when she lost the title, but didn’t know why Sir John took it away from her.

“[Sir John is a] far more ruthless person than myself.”

He later apologised for taking the title away and said something along the lines of “that was just bulls**t”, Ms Collins said.

She said she didn’t really know if Sir John liked her.

“I used to think he probably did because we often used to have breakfast together in the Koru lounge in Auckland,” she said.

“I certainly did [like him]. I thought he was a very capable person.

“He’s not my friend. He never was my friend, but I could contact him.”

Speaking about her thoughts on former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, she said she’d forgiven him since Dirty Politics.

“Cameron has some very good qualities, but he doesn’t always have the judgement. I’ve moved on from it and I’ve forgiven him,” Ms Collins said.