Collins initially made cabinet after National won power in 2008, when she was given charge of both Corrections and Police portfolios.
Collins went after ‘boy racers’ earning her the nickname ‘Crusher Collins’ for legislation she introduced to crush cars. The law was seldom used but Collins said she was the Minister “who brought back deterrence”.
Be that as it may, following Bill English’s prisons are a “moral and fiscal failure speech” in 2010, Collins oversaw a significant shift in culture with the Department of Corrections. She expanded drug treatment and facilities for mothers with babies in prisons. She also banned smoking in all of the country’s prisons.
Under Collins’ watch, Serco were given contracts to run Mt Eden prison.
In late 2011, Collins gave up Police and Corrections but became Minister of Justice.
Embroiled in scandals regarding business dealings of her husband and allegations of Dirty Politics relating to her relationship and dealings with Cameron Slater, Collins was forced to resign. But she was never far from the limelight and didn’t stay away from contentious issues – earlier this year she supported police who broke the law in the Red Devils gang case.
Collins is back in from the cold as Corrections and Police Minister for a few reasons but one is that the incumbent corrections minister, Sam Lotu-liga, simply wasn’t up to it. Although in fairness, the Serco scandal that haunted him was more Collins’ making than his own.
Exactly what Collins we will get is very unclear, she appears to be attempting to re-jig her image. Whatever the case, it’s likely things will not be dull.