O’Sullivan on Key

Fran O’Sullivan writes in the Weekend Herald:

has made a strategic decision to burn some political capital and front-foot major Government decisions as he tries to wrest control of the national agenda. It’s a strategy that is bearing fruit.

Finally, the PM is putting a stamp on his Government as he lifts its tempo and gets some serious purchase on major issues.

So far Key is making reasonable headway as he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Cabinet ministers while they unveil pre-Budget announcements on hot issues, such as Paula Bennett’s on welfare reform. …

The Government is very determined to do more than just manage the finances, but also to take hard decisions which will boost economic growth and hence jobs.

It is easy to underplay the impact of the Prime Minister’s cheery influence in keeping New Zealand business sufficiently confident in his Government’s management of the NZ economy so the vast majority of firms stay focused on the medium-term prospects and don’t simply shut up shop and move to Australia.

Political journalists and Beltway denizens don’t see much of this side of Key as, outside of the general election campaign, few venture forth on a consistent basis to watch the PM intersecting with the business community.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard from reasonably politically agnostic business people how impressive the PM is when talking on economic issues at business forums.

The PM’s decision to front-foot the mini-scandals – instead of relying on his press minders to trot out the spin – is also a change from default mode.

He didn’t need the SkyCity convention centre wrangle, or the ACC and John Banks mini-scandals. But Key has more than held his own on television programmes such as Campbell Live or on Radio NZ’s Morning Report against critical news presenters trying to expose chinks in his political spin.

I can’t recall a time when a PM was being interview one on one so often.

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