We all know the story of Judith Collins and Oravida, which has been dragging on for at least the last month. I won’t go over the details of that. But I do want to talk about is the social media aspect of her playing hide and seek with the press gallery.
Generally, the media gather in the main foyer to seek interviews as MPs are going into the Chamber at 2pm. While they are not allowed to obstruct, there is an expectation that Ministers and MPs will front the media. They are accountable. There are also several other ways to move to and from the Chamber, and today Judith Collins took one of those routes. She left the Chamber by the door at the back of the House and went into a foyer where a Radio NZ reporter was waiting. She told Radio NZ (to quote a tweet) “You’re not allowed back here. If you want an appointment, talk to my press sec.”
She then took the lift up to the second floor and returned to the beehive across the upper level of the double-decker bridge. A Radio Live reporter was there and she told him he was not allowed there. In both cases she was wrong in fact. While it may not be common, journalists can seek interviews in these areas. The protocol specifically says that interviews in these areas (without filming) requires no further approval from the Speaker’s office.
Now lets look at some of the tweets associated with today’s events.
Laura McQuillian added this to the conversation.
So what we have here is a Minister trying to dodge the media and in doing so generating even more coverage of the fact that she is dodging them. If she had done the bridge run and said no comment and pushed through, there may not be as much talk about the fact she isn’t answering questions. The media may not spend much time in their respective outlets talking about her avoiding the, but they are obviously talking about it, in public, on Twitter. It is out there, people can and have retweeted it. Hiding from the media, and doing it in such an obvious way, along with giving the media tweetable quotes like “make an appointment” and “You’re not allowed back here. If you want an appointment, talk to my press sec.”
Radio Live managed to get a microphone in front of her, and the interview is very interesting. Particularly Duncan’s comments at the end about Judith’s role in the attacks on David Benson-Pope all those years ago.
The perception is growing, supported by Judith’s actions today, that she is trying to hide something. As the saying goes, it is not the act that gets you, it is the cover up. I am not passing judgement on if there is something to be covered up here or not. However the actions of the Minister are suggestive of her trying to do that. Perception is a powerful thing, it can be argued that like possession being 9/10ths of the law, perception is 9/10ths of reality.