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Entertainment, New Zealand - Mar 12, 2014 16:25 - 0 Comments

‘Beam me up Scotty!’ – Star Trek’s Captain Kirk arrested in land of hobbits

Actor Chris Pine, who plays Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the Star Trek movie reboots, will need more than the help of Bones and Spock to get him out of his latest mess.

New Zealand’s Ashburton Guardian newspaper is tonight reporting Pine is cooling his heels in the foothills of the Southern Alps, where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, after being picked up by local police for driving under the influence last weekend.

It’s understood Pine had just wrapped filming Z for Zachariah when he got caught.

Other celebs in the area included his girlfriend Iris Bjork Johannesdottir and Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie, although they were not directly involved in the incident according to reports.

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New Zealand, World - Aug 30, 2014 14:26 - 2 Comments

Judith Collins forced to resign – the fallout

Justice Minister Judith Collins has been forced to walk the plank by Prime Minister John Key in  what appears to have been the deliberate scuttling of her ship, rather than the result of enemy attack.

2014-08-30 13.33.16

An ‘anonymous’ source whose identity the Prime Minister admits is known to his office sent the PM’s chief of staff a copy of an email originally written by blogger Cameron Slater in 2011. The leaked email did not appear in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book, yet if Hager had seen it there is no doubt he would have used it, as the allegation was far more serious than the email he did use about Collins leaking the name of a civil servant to Slater.

NZ First leader Winston Peters told TV3’s Patrick Gower this afternoon that the email appears to have been leaked from within National circles in a bid to force Key to remove Collins – although Peters claims the motivation was to divert attention from his own allegation that a Collins’ supporter was making quiet approaches about a possible leadership bid.

Either way, it seems likely that Collins has taken a direct hit from within, rather than without. It’s not the first time a story of infighting within National has emerged.

Turning to the email that broke the PM’s back, Slater claims to have had a lengthy phone conversation that day with Collins and reported to his other contacts that the Minister was “gunning” for Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley, who’d been caught up in a scandal over a champagne bottle.

As Collins had stated on other occasions, Feeley was “operationally independent”, so any inference of the Minister taking part in a campaign to “undermine” the head of the SFO was a constitutional no-no.

READ THE EMAIL HERE Email

Read John Key’s statement:

Judith Collins resigns as a Minister

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.
Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs.

READ JUDITH COLLINS’ STATEMENT:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour. I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

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New Zealand - Mar 21, 2015 11:50 - 0 Comments

Ministry of Primary Industries accused of telling fibs on fruit fly gaffe

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been accused of “lying” to the media about a fruit-fly infested shipment of Tongan breadfruit.

Last weekend InvestigateDaily broke the story of a pallet of breadfruit found to contain fruit fly larvae at Auckland Airport.

Official sources told InvestigateDaily the shipment had been earmarked for destruction, but an MPI paperwork mistake meant the cargo was allowed to continue to its destination where it was shipped out to fruit and vege retailers around Auckland.

In response to that story, MPI this week broke its silence, implying that InvestigateDaily was wrong:

Dear Mr Wishart,

“MPI request that you take into account the below facts in response to your article about fruit fly threat (http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/14263/new-fruit-fly-threat-for-nz/) .

“MPI detected and stopped at the border a consignment of Tongan breadfruit on Friday 27 February 2015 as it did not meet Import Health Standard requirements due to the detection of Pacific fruit fly (Bactrocera xanthodes) viable eggs.

“This consignment was refused biosecurity clearance and an MPI Chief Technical Officer has directed that it be either re-shipped at the importer’s cost or safely destroyed.

“As a precaution, two other consignments of breadfruit, imported at the same time from Tonga, were recalled from the market in New Zealand and inspected for fruit fly life stages. No life stages of the Pacific fruit fly were found in these consignments, but as a precautionary measure they have been secured by MPI and have been safely destroyed.

“MPI cannot find any record of Investigate Daily contacting MPI for comment.”

For the record, InvestigateDaily’s request was placed to the MPI media team on Tuesday 10 March at 15:58 in a call lasting six minutes.

However, when we told our source about the denial, his reaction was “that’s an absolute lie! The cargo went out to stores, they sent people out to get it back but most of the product had been sold to customers who were untraceable.”

The assurance, he says, that the remnants of the breadfruit cargo they managed to recall were clear of fruit fly, is “meaningless”, because a large quantity of the fruit had gone.

In InvestigateDaily’s view the gaffe raises new questions: Why weren’t all three consignments of breadfruit physically checked on entry, when they came from a country known to have fruit fly?

 

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