I can’t believe I’m having to explain myself yet again. Didn’t I already provide a perfectly clear explanation?
These allegations are disgusting and outrageous. How could anyone for a moment think I did something wrong?
All I did was attend a dinner with bosses of a company having trouble with Chinese border officials, a dinner that a Chinese border official coincidentally attended. So what? So what if Oravida and its owner Stone Shi donate heavily to the National Party, and my husband is also involved with the company? What possible motive could I have to help Oravida? What possible conflict could arise in such a situation?
The presence of a Chinese border official at a dinner I was attending with the owner of a company having trouble with Chinese border officials, is entirely irrelevant. In my role as MP and government minister I attend a lot of meals, and I often find myself seated next to Chinese border officials. I see Chinese border officials almost everywhere I go, and it’s got to the stage where I hardly notice them anymore.
I’ll give you an example. Just last week I took my husband out for a quiet romantic dinner at a restaurant in my local electorate, and when we got to our table we found a Chinese border official already sitting there. He looked at the wine list and ate some of the bread we ordered as a starter, but didn’t say a word. I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like, because it didn’t seem important. It’s really no big deal.
We came home to find another Chinese border official sitting in the lounge, sifting through my pile of House and Garden magazines. He had helped himself to our tea but was otherwise minding his own business, so we left him there. I made up the spare bed for him, but he left of his own accord after we’d turned in for the night.
On my flight to Wellington on Monday morning I was seated next to a Chinese border official. I could tell what he did for a living because he had a badge on saying “Chinese border official,” which is lucky, otherwise I’d have assumed he was just another Chinese businessman in a suit. It even turned out that the pilot was a Chinese border official. These people are everywhere, so it would have been an enormous surprise if one of them hadn’t been at my dinner with Oravida.
Did I speak to the Chinese border official during my dinner with Oravida? Of course I didn’t! Why would I? What would I have to say to such an uninteresting and ubiquitous class of person?
Actually, come to think of it, I may have spoken to the gentleman. I remember now that at the very beginning of the dinner I stood over him and said “now listen here, you Chinese official type person, I have nothing to say to you. And I won’t be having any of your talk, so button your lip!” And then I gave him The Stare. I think you know The Stare. It’s what I’m about to give you very shortly if you don’t stop with all these questions.
And that was that. No, how could I possibly know why the Chinese border official was at the dinner? What possible reason could Oravida have for greasing up to such a person? Oh, Oravida was having problems with Chinese border officials, you say? I didn’t know that at the time, did I? Yes, I’m aware now that Oravida was lobbying ministers to intervene, but just because I happen to be a personal friend of Stone Shi, the owner of the company, that doesn’t mean he would have approached me for assistance in the matter. No, I just can’t imagine him ever doing that.
But let me be clear that if it does turn out that Stone Shi asked me to intervene on Oravida’s behalf, that doesn’t mean there was anything unusual or sinister in my having dinner with a Chinese border official. If Mr Shi did mention Oravida’s problems, then I’m sure I forgot about them immediately afterwards. I’m an extremely busy woman, and I can’t be expected to remember every single thing people tell me. Surely if John Banks can lose a helicopter ride, I can be allowed to forget this one little thing.
I’m confident that my presence at the dinner was in no way an attempt by Oravida to impress or intimidate the Chinese border official by wheeling out pliant New Zealand government ministers. I can’t imagine that sort of thing would ever happen in China. Surely that’s not how business is done there.
So enough of this rubbish and nonsense about Oravida. Why don’t you ask me questions about more important things? I have a wide range of other ministerial responsibilities, and there are lots of exciting things happening in my other portfolios.
What’s that? You want to talk about ACC privacy breaches? In that case, does anyone else have anything they’d like to ask me about Oravida?