Judith Collins

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Judith Collins

Judith Collins MP.jpg
Minister of Revenue
In office
20 December 2016 26 October 2017
Prime Minister Bill English
Preceded by Michael Woodhouse
Succeeded by Stuart Nash
Minister of Energy and Resources
In office
20 December 2016 26 October 2017
Prime Minister Bill English
Preceded by Simon Bridges
Succeeded by Megan Woods
Minister for Ethnic Communities
In office
20 December 2016 26 October 2017
Prime Minister Bill English
Preceded by Sam Lotu-Iiga
Succeeded by Jenny Salesa
Minister of Police
In office
19 November 2008 12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Annette King
Succeeded by Anne Tolley
In office
14 December 2015 20 December 2016
Prime Minister John Key
Bill English
Preceded by Michael Woodhouse
Succeeded by Paula Bennett
Minister of Corrections
In office
19 November 2008 12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Phil Goff
Succeeded by Anne Tolley
In office
14 December 2015 20 December 2016
Prime Minister John Key
Bill English
Preceded by Sam Lotu-Iiga
Succeeded by Louise Upston
Minister of Justice
In office
12 December 2011 30 August 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Simon Power
Succeeded by Amy Adams
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Papakura
Assumed office
8 November 2008
Preceded by John Robertson (1996)
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Clevedon
In office
27 July 2002 8 November 2008
Preceded by Warren Kyd (1996)
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Majority12,871 (34.9%)
Personal details
Judith Anne Collins

(1959-02-24) 24 February 1959 (age 60)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Political party
Spouse(s)David Wong Tung
Alma mater
Signature Signature Judith Collins.png

Judith Anne Collins (born 24 February 1959) is a New Zealand politician. [1] She is the National MP for Papakura and was a government minister under John Key and Bill English.

New Zealand National Party Major New Zealand political party

The New Zealand National Party, shortened to National or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside its traditional rival, the New Zealand Labour Party.

Papakura (New Zealand electorate) New Zealand electorate

Papakura is an electorate in the New Zealand House of Representatives, based in the south Auckland town of Papakura. Historically, the name refers to an electorate that existed between 1978 and 1996, which with the advent of Mixed Member Proportional voting and resulting reduction in the number of constituencies was folded into a new Hunua seat. In 2002 Hunua was modified, pulled northwards and renamed Clevedon.

John Key 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sir John Phillip Key is a former New Zealand politician who served as the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand and Leader of the New Zealand National Party. He was elected leader of the party in November 2006 and appointed Prime Minister in November 2008, resigning from both posts in December 2016. After leaving politics, Key was appointed to board of director and chairmanship roles in New Zealand corporations.


Prior to entering politics Collins worked as a commercial lawyer, including running her own practice for a decade. She entered Parliament in the 2002 election, and was promoted to Cabinet when National came into government in 2008. Her initial ministerial portfolios were Police, Corrections and Veterans' Affairs. After the 2011 election, her portfolios changed to Justice (including responsibility for the Law Commission), Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Ethnic Affairs. She was ranked fifth in Cabinet, and was the highest ranked woman. Collins resigned from Cabinet on 30 August 2014 following e-mail leaks alleging she had undermined the head of the Serious Fraud Office whilst she was the minister responsible for that organisation. She was later cleared of any wrongdoing, and returned to Cabinet in December 2015, serving until National lost power at the 2017 election.

New Zealand Parliament legislative body of New Zealand

The New Zealand Parliament is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand (Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by her governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The New Zealand Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. It has met in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, since 1865.

2002 New Zealand general election

The 2002 New Zealand general election was held on 27 July 2002 to determine the composition of the 47th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the reelection of Helen Clark's Labour Party government, as well as the worst-ever performance by the opposition National Party.

Cabinet of New Zealand

The Cabinet of New Zealand is the New Zealand Government's body of senior ministers, responsible to the New Zealand Parliament. Cabinet meetings, chaired by the prime minister, occur once a week; in them, vital issues are discussed and government policy is formulated. Though not established by any statute, Cabinet has significant power in the New Zealand political system and nearly all bills proposed by Cabinet in Parliament are enacted.

Early life and career

Collins was born in Hamilton. Her parents were dairy farmers Percy and Jessie Collins of Walton in the Waikato and she was the youngest of six children. [2] She attended Walton Primary School and Matamata College. [3] In 1977 and 1978 she studied at the University of Canterbury. In 1979 she switched to the University of Auckland, and obtained first an LLB and then a LLM (Hons) and later a Master of Taxation Studies (MTaxS). She met her husband, Chinese-Samoan [4] David Wong Tung, at university. He was then a police officer and had migrated from Samoa as a child. They have one son. [2]

Hamilton, New Zealand City in North Island, New Zealand

Hamilton is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the seat and most populous city of the Waikato region, with a territorial population of 169,300, the country's fourth most-populous city. Encompassing a land area of about 110 km2 (42 sq mi) on the banks of the Waikato River, Hamilton is part of the wider Hamilton Urban Area, which also encompasses the nearby towns of Ngaruawahia, Te Awamutu and Cambridge.

Walton, New Zealand human settlement in New Zealand

Walton is a settlement in New Zealand. It is sited at the junction of Walton Road and Morrinsville Walton Road, in the Central Waikato Region.

Waikato region in New Zealands North Island

Waikato is a local government region of the upper North Island of New Zealand. It covers the Waikato District, Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula, the northern King Country, much of the Taupo District, and parts of Rotorua District. It is governed by the Waikato Regional Council.

Collins was a Labour Party supporter from childhood, [4] but by 2002 had been a member of the National Party for three years. [5] She has been a member of Zonta International and of Rotary International. [6] [ not in citation given ]

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.

Zonta International is an international service organization with the mission of advancing the status of women.

Rotary International Nonprofit organization

Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-religious organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 35,000+ member clubs worldwide, and 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians, have joined.

Professional career

After leaving university, she worked as a lawyer, specialising in employment, property, commercial, and tax law. She worked as a solicitor for four different firms between 1981 and 1990, and then became principal of her own firm, Judith Collins & Associates (1990–2000). In the last two years before election to Parliament, she worked as special counsel for Minter Ellison Rudd Watts (2000–2002). [6] [ not in citation given ]

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

She was active in legal associations, and was President of the Auckland District Law Society (1998–1999) and Vice-President of the New Zealand Law Society (1999–2000). She served as chairperson of the Casino Control Authority (1999–2002) and was a director of Housing New Zealand Limited (1999–2001). [3]

The Auckland District Law Society is the professional body for barristers and solicitors practising in the Auckland region of New Zealand. It operates in conjunction with the New Zealand Law Society and was established in 1879. Membership was compulsory in accordance with the Law Practitioners Act 1982, until c.2008.

The New Zealand Law Society is the parent body for barristers and solicitors in New Zealand. It was established in 1869, and regulates all lawyers practising in New Zealand. Membership of the Society is voluntary, although any person wishing to practice law in New Zealand must obtain a practising certificate from the Society. The Society has 13 branch offices throughout the country. Each branch has a president and a council, which represent their members’ interests on a regional and national level.

Early parliamentary career (2002–2008)

New Zealand Parliament
2002 2005 47th Clevedon 48 National
2005 2008 48th Clevedon12 National
2008 2011 49th Papakura 7 National
2011 2014 50th Papakura7 National
2014 2017 51st Papakura6 National
2017 present 52nd Papakura16 National

Collins was elected to Parliament in the 2002 election as the National MP for Clevedon. Clevedon, although technically a new electorate, was largely based on the old Hunua electorate, held by National's Warren Kyd. [7]

In Parliament, Collins became National's Associate Spokesperson on Health and Spokesperson on Internal Affairs. In 2003, these responsibilities were changed for those of Associate Spokesperson on Justice and Spokesperson on Tourism. She was generally regarded as having performed well and when Katherine Rich refused to give full support to the controversial Orewa Speech by then-party leader Don Brash, Rich was demoted in February 2005 and Collins became National's spokesperson on Social Welfare instead. [8] Collins then served as spokesperson on Family, and spokesperson on Pacific Island Affairs.

In 2003, while in opposition Collins campaigned for an inquiry to find out whether New Zealand troops were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and if so any effect this subsequently had. [9] Despite previous inquiries stating otherwise, the committee established that troops were exposed to defoliant chemicals during their service in Vietnam, and therefore operated in a toxic environment. [10] This resulted in an apology in 2004 from the Labour-led Government to Veterans and the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support veterans. [11] In 2004 Collins was awarded the Ex-Vietnam Services Association Pin as a result of campaigning for the inquiry. [9]

Collins' Clevedon electorate disappeared under boundary changes for the 2008 election. She originally announced her intention to seek the National Party nomination for Howick, which comprises the urban part of her former Clevedon electorate. However, following objections made to the Electoral Commission over draft changes to the boundaries that saw a major redrawing of the adjacent constituency Pakuranga, the draft Howick was redrawn and renamed Botany. Collins then sought and won the nomination for Papakura (which comprises the other half of her former Clevedon electorate) and allowed her colleague, National Party MP Pansy Wong to seek nomination for Botany. Collins won Papakura with a majority of more than 10,000. [12]

Fifth National Government (2008–2017)

The National Party formed a government after the 2008 election, and Collins entered Cabinet with the portfolios of Police, Corrections and Veterans' Affairs. After the 2011 election she was appointed Minister of Justice, Minister of Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Minister of Ethnic Affairs and, with a Cabinet ranking of five, was the highest ranked woman. [13]

Minister of Corrections

Collins at the National War Memorial, 2010 Judith Collins 2010 Battle of Britain 70th commemorations.jpg
Collins at the National War Memorial, 2010

In 2009, Collins questioned the leadership of, and later refused to express confidence in, Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews, after a spate of bad publicity. [14] However, after an enquiry by the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, Matthews kept his job because Corrections had made efforts to improve and had warned the government of the day and the previous government that under-resourcing was putting public safety at risk. [15]

Collins increased the availability of work programmes in prison, [16] and increased funding to widen the availability of alcohol and drug treatment programmes. Corrections built three new Drug Treatment Units and introducing condensed treatment programmes for prisoners serving shorter sentences. [17] Collins oversaw completion of a new prison in Mount Eden, Auckland, and awarded the private management contract for the new prison to British company Serco, on the recommendation of the Department of Corrections. This was the first prison since 2005 to be managed by a private sector contractor. [18] [19]

In June 2010, Collins announced that from 1 July 2011 [20] tobacco smoking and possessing lighters in prison would be banned, to reduce the health risk that smoking and fire presented to prison guards and prisoners. [21] This ban was subsequently successfully challenged in court on two occasions, resulting in a law change to maintain it. [22] [23]

Minister of Police

Following a police trial of tasers in 2006–07, Collins supported their introduction by then Police Commissioner Howard Broad. [24] In the 2009 budget she announced NZ$10 million worth of funding to complete a nationwide taser roll-out to all police districts, [25] and since then has advocated that the Police be given further discretion about when they can equip themselves with tasers. [26] She has also supported increased access to firearms for frontline officers, by equipping all front-line police vehicles with lock boxes for firearms, but does not support the full-time general arming of Police officers. [27]

During her early years in parliament Collins developed a reputation for tough talking and in 2009 was nicknamed Crusher Collins when she proposed legislation to 'crush' the cars of persistent boy racers. [28] Collins described herself as the minister "who brought back deterrence". [29] [30] [31]

Minister of Justice

In 2012, Collins moderated the cutbacks to legal aid begun by her predecessor, Simon Power. She reduced the charges for family and civil cases, delayed the period before interest is charged on outstanding legal aid debt and dropped a proposal to make it harder to get legal aid for less serious crimes such as theft, assault or careless driving. [32] She did however retain fixed fees for criminal work and the rotation of the legal aid to lawyers in all but the most serious cases, which attracted criticism from some lawyers. [33]

After a two-year investigation the Law Commission produced a report for government with 153 recommendations to reform New Zealand's alcohol laws. While some legislative changes were passed in December 2012, the Opposition and health sector lobbyists said the evidence-based advice from the Commission was disregarded by Collins and her predecessor Simon Power with the result that the final legislation "was a pale imitation of the landmark Law Commission report it was based on." [34] Examples include Collins originally announcing a ban in May 2012 of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages with 6 per cent alcohol or more from off-licenses. However, in the face of criticism from the liquor industry, she back-tracked on this ban, and three months later announced that the industry would develop its own voluntary code "to limit the harm to young people caused by RTDs". [35] The Commission also recommended a 50 per cent tax increase on alcohol (which was dismissed immediately by the Government) and an increase in the purchase age, which was also dismissed after a conscience vote in September 2012. [34] Collins herself voted to raise the purchase age. [36] Overall Collins said "the reforms struck a sensible balance by reducing the serious harm caused by alcohol without penalising people who drank responsibly." [34] The Labour Party and Professor Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action [37] stated that the changes were weak and would do little to reduce the harm caused by binge drinking. Sellman said: "It's called the Alcohol Reform Bill but it has no reforms in it". [38]

In December 2012, Collins revealed she had concerns about the robustness of a report authored by retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie, which recommended that David Bain should be paid compensation for the 13 years he spent in prison before being acquitted at retrial in 2009. [39] The report had been presented to Collins on 31 August 2012, but the dispute only became public after Binnie threatened to release the report on his own. [40] Collins had provided a copy of the report to the police and the Solicitor-General and ordered a peer review by former New Zealand High Court judge Robert Fisher, sending a "34-point list of issues attacking the case" along with her letter of instruction. [41] She did not provide a copy of Binnie's report to Bain's legal team. This fact, combined with the circumstances around the peer review by Fisher, led to accusations from Bain's team and from Justice Binnie that Collins was not following an "even handed process". [42] Collins subsequently released the reports publicly. [43] A month later, Mr Bain filed a claim in the High Court seeking a review of Collins' actions. The claim alleged Collins breached natural justice and the Bill of Rights Act in her treatment of him and that she "acted in bad faith, abused her power, and acted in a biased, unreasonable and predetermined manner". [44]

Minister for ACC

In August 2011, a significant privacy breach occurred at the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) following the accidental release of 6700 claimants' details to ACC claimant, Bronwyn Pullar. [45] Following the breach, Collins wanted a change in the culture at ACC to make "privacy and information security" the most important focus. As part of these changes the board chair, John Judge, did not have his tenure on the board renewed, [46] and the chief executive Ralph Stewart resigned the next day. [47] In May 2012, Collins sued Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little for defamation over comments they made on Radio New Zealand linking her to the leak of an e-mail from Michelle Boag about Pullar's case. [48] The case was settled after a High Court hearing in November 2012. [49]


In March 2014, Collins was accused of a conflict of interest after an overseas trip where she 'dropped in' and endorsed the milk produced by Oravida – a New Zealand company which exports to China – of which her husband is a director. After being admonished by the Prime Minister, Collins apologised and stated that she and a Chinese executive were 'very close personal friends'. [50] [51] [52] Over the following weeks the Labour Party continued asking who the Chinese official was. Collins did not provide his name, which House speaker David Carter described as "very unsatisfactory". [53] Prime Minister John Key stated publicly that Judith Collins was on her final warning over this incident. [54]

In August 2014 the book Dirty Politics , written by Nicky Hager, revealed that Collins was friends with right-wing blogger Cameron Slater and had passed on private information to him about Simon Pleasants, a public servant at Internal Affairs. Collins believed Pleasants had leaked information about Deputy Prime Minister Bill English misusing his housing allowance. Slater published Mr Pleasant's name and details on his blog as well as the abuse and death threats that were subsequently directed at Mr Pleasants. [55] A 3News-Reid Research poll taken at the time revealed that 63% of voters believed Prime Minister John Key should have stood Collins down over this incident. [56] Mr Key said Collins had been 'unwise' and placed on her second final warning. [57]

Winston Peters claimed he was approached to do a post-2014 election deal with National with Collins as leader. Peters went on to say he would swear an affidavit that he had been approached. Collins denied this claim. On 29 August 2014 John Key backed Collins up by stating "I accept Judith 100 per cent at her word." [58]

On 30 August 2014 Collins resigned her Cabinet positions following the leak of another e-mail written by Slater in 2011, which suggested she had also attempted to undermine another public servant, Adam Feeley. Feeley was Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time. Collins says she resigned because she believed the attacks on her had become a distraction for the National Party leading up to the election. She called for an inquiry so she could clear her name. [59]

After the 2014 election, John Key left Collins off the "Roll of the Honourables" due to the ongoing inquiry into her role with Adam Feeley. This made her ineligible to use the title "Honourable". [60] Collins expressed surprise about having found out about the decision through the media, [61] and John Key admitted that his decision should have been explained to Collins. [62] On 25 November 2014 the Chisholm report was released, clearing Collins of the allegations into her dealings with former SFO director Adam Feeley, [63] so on 4 December 2014 Collins was granted the right to retain the title of 'The Honourable' for life. [64]

On 7 December 2015, Key announced Collins would return to Cabinet, to hold her former portfolios of Corrections and Police again. She was sworn in again on 14 December 2015.

2016 leadership campaign and aftermath

John Key announced his resignation as leader of the National Party on 5 December 2016. The following day, Collins announced her intention to stand as his replacement, which would have elevated her to the prime ministership. [65] The other candidates were Bill English and Jonathan Coleman. On 8 December, both Collins and Coleman withdrew as candidates, allowing English to be elected unopposed. [66]

On 20 December 2016, she was officially sworn in as a minister with new portfolios in the new Bill English cabinet. She dropped in cabinet rank, but was made Minister of Revenue, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister for Ethnic Communities. The corrections and police portfolios were given to Louise Upston and Paula Bennett, respectively.

Opposition (2017–present)

2018 leadership campaign

Bill English announced his resignation as leader of the National Party on 13 February 2018. The following day, Collins became the first person to announce their intention to stand as his replacement; she was later joined by Amy Adams and Simon Bridges. She cited the need for "strong and decisive leadership". [67] Collins was endorsed by former National leader Don Brash, [68] and political commentators Duncan Garner, [69] Mike Hosking, [70] Cameron Slater, [71] and Chris Trotter. [72] Hosking later retracted his endorsement when Steven Joyce announced his candidacy. [73] Bridges went on to win the leadership role.

In late May 2018, Collins, in her capacity as Opposition Transport spokesperson, raised the matter that Transport Minister Phil Twyford had made an unauthorised phone call while his flight had taken off; a violation of national civil aviation laws. In response, Twyford offered to resigned as Transport Minister. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stripped Twyford of his civil aviation portfolio but retained him as Transport Minister. [74] [75] [76]

Political views

In 2003 Collins voted against the Death with Dignity Bill, a bill aiming to legalise euthanasia in New Zealand. [77]

In 2004 Collins voted against the Civil Union Act 2004 and the Relationships (Statutory References) Act. [78] In 2005 Collins suggested changing the law to stop heterosexuals from entering civil unions. [79] Collins also voted for the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill, which would have amended the Marriage Act to define marriage as only between a man and woman. [80] In 2012, however, Collins voted for the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand. [81]

In 2005 Collins voted for the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Act, a bill aimed at raising the drinking age to 20 years. [82] Collins also voted for the Alcohol Reform - raising purchase age to 20 Bill, a 2012 bill aiming at raising the drinking age to 20. [83]

In 2009 Collins voted against the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, a bill aimed at amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. [84]

In 2011 Collins pledged to support abortion-law changes which would make it illegal to perform an abortion on someone under the age of 16 without parental notification. Collins had proposed adding this to the Care of Children Act in 2004. [85]

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New Zealand Parliament
Title last held by
Warren Kyd
Member of Parliament
for Clevedon

Constituency abolished
Title last held by
John Robertson
Member of Parliament
for Papakura

Political offices
Preceded by
Annette King
Minister of Police
Succeeded by
Anne Tolley
Preceded by
Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections
Succeeded by
Anne Tolley
Preceded by
Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans' Affairs
Succeeded by
Nathan Guy
Preceded by
Simon Power
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Amy Adams
Preceded by
Nick Smith
Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation
Succeeded by
Nikki Kaye
Preceded by
Hekia Parata
Minister of Ethnic Affairs
Succeeded by
Sam Lotu-Iiga
Preceded by
Michael Woodhouse
Minister of Police
Succeeded by
Paula Bennett
Preceded by
Sam Lotu-Iiga
Minister of Corrections
Succeeded by
Louise Upston