The last thing you might think Judith Collins would be is boring. But apparently that's just what the new, true version really is.
Who would ever have guessed that Judith Collins could make a pretty cut-and-dried workplace safety issue so controversial? As Danyl McLauchlan says; "It is possibly the most boring thing there has ever been a twitter debate about."
Here's my (completely uninformed and driven by guesswork) take on the fibre-board-gate/Linea Politics contretemps. The Sunday Star-Times is continuing to haemorrhage readers - down 23,000 from October 2013 to September 2014. They are pretty desperate to turn this around. Anything that might do so is a "good idea" and they'll worry about any ethical concerns once they've stabilised market share.
Then Judith Collins comes "on the market", as it were, after her ousting from Cabinet. Judith Collins! The "Crusher", who is never short of an opinion, who never backs down from a fight, who divides opinion like few others in the country!! People will buy the paper every week to see what she has to say - even if only to swear about it with their friends!!!
So she's given a bi-weekly column in which to let rip (interspersed with a "prominent hard hitting left wing columnist", to make sure there's "balance"). Hell - the publicity gained from the controversy over doing so is worth a few extra readers in and of itself!
Except … it turns out that the "Crusher" that we thought we knew has gone out of business. For in the same issue of the Sunday Star-Times as Judith Collins' first column, she's given a remarkably sympathetic interview by Adam Dudding in which she tells him: "I don't want to be caught up in negative stuff and confrontation. It detracts from the work that I've done. I don't want to go there any more."
[As an aside, who could have suspected that when she was posing for pictures like this, or carried on like this, or finished press releases with the sentence "Make no mistake - Illegal street racers who continue to flout the law can look forward to a date with the crusher”, she was trapped inside a persona cruelly thrust upon her by others? One that she actually found "pretty horrible"? Do you not weep at the injustices that she has suffered?]
So rather than several hundred words savaging her enemies or eviserating the opposition, she delivers up to the Sunday Star-Times … a cautionary tale about the dangers of drilling or cutting concrete fibre board. And the steps she took at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee to bring this issue to the attention of the bosses at the companies that use the product. Because that's who Judith Collins really is - someone who gets stuff done and is in politics to make a difference.
All of which is great! It's what MPs should be doing! In fact, it's what all MPs do do … every single back-bencher from every party will have a story pretty much exactly the same as Judith Collins to tell. It's what politics is all about, when you strip it of the shouty aggression and ego-driven machinations.
But … who's going to spend $3 on a Sunday to read about it? You can get this sort of guff for free from the letters/leaflets that MPs are given millions of dollars every year to deliver to you. You know - the ones that you invariably throw straight into the recycling without so much as a second glance.
So what is the Sunday Star-Times to do? Well, they make a bit of a nylon purse out of the pigs ear by cobbling together an "expose" story to tack alongside Collins' column - albeit one that is curiously uncurious about the effect that cutting ACC funding for health and safety training may have on identifying and combatting hazards like fibre board particulate inhalation. Cuts that one Judith Collins made while still Minister for ACC.
So that's got them through this week. But in a fortnight's time the new "not-the-Crusher" is going to be back with another few hundred words of carefully scrutinised and sanitised (you think that John Key's office is letting this go to press without checking it?) pabulum intended to showcase the "real" Judith Collins. And it will be worthy. And it will be "important". But it will be boring, boring, boring.
What will be done with that, I wonder?