Gordon Brown reports for the Taranaki Daily News:
Mr Key was on stage for two-and-a-half hours at the evening organised by the Taranaki Daily News.
Editor Roy Pilott hosted the evening, which was held in the Theatre Royal at the TSB Showplace, asking questions on behalf of readers, while those present had no hesitation in trying to pin Mr Key down on a wide variety of issues.
After a 20-minute opening address, Mr Key sat on a sofa, microphone in hand and, it has to be said, turned on the charm. It would have been no surprise if he had a cup of coffee while he chatted away. It was that sort of a night.
There were the usual questions from vested interests which had too much of a narrow focus for many in the audience, but the Prime Minister welcomed almost every inquiry by finding something positive in the question. …
Mr Key was in a buoyant mood after the meeting.
“It was great. They were a great audience, very respectful but obviously there was a range of views.
“I thought we made our own case though.”
Mr Key said New Plymouth was only the fourth place he had participated in such an evening.
“I’ve done it a couple of times in Christchurch and once in Ashburton. We’re keen to get around the rest of New Zealand and get an opportunity for a longer form of debate, because so often people see me through their TV screens in a five-second sound bite and often that doesn’t do justice to the issues.
It is a tradition that I hope continues – having the PM face up to halls around New Zealand. And I don’t mean hand picked audiences, and moderated by a fellow MP. True town hall meetings promoted to everyone, and chaired by the local newspaper editor.
The reaction of everyone the Daily News spoke to as they left the theatre was complimentary.
“That was a really good night, he answered the questions very well,” agreed Joy and Brian.
Carl thought he had “character and charisma”.
But perhaps the final word belongs to Rusty Kane, the New Plymouth man who has fought and lost more elections than any Parliamentarians in the House.
“I think he’s a real people’s Prime Minister and he’s done very well.”
Mr Kane has indeed stood for a record number of elections.Tags: John Key, New Plymouth