Vernon Small at Stuff reports:
Prime Minister John Key will miss the commemorative service for the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, opting to go ahead instead with a trip to the United States to support his son at a baseball tournament.
Mr Key said yesterday it was a hard call. “I have got to let somebody down. But my son makes huge sacrifices for me and my job and in the final analysis I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Mr Key visited the families of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, who were killed in a clash with insurgents in Bamiyan province on Saturday, to explain why he would not be at the service.
His son, Max, is a member of the New Zealand under-17 baseball team. It is the first time a Kiwi team has been represented at the Senior League World Series, held in Bangor, Maine.
Bill English, as acting prime minister, would represent the Government at the service at Burnham Military Camp, near Christchurch, starting at 1pm tomorrow.
Labour leader David Shearer said he would attend, but declined to comment on Mr Key’s choice. “It’s a decision for the prime minister.”
Many opposition leaders would have used this tragedy, to take a cheap swipe. I think it speaks well of Shearer’s basic decency that he has not.
The PM had a scheduling clash he has no control over. Being there for your teenage son while he represents New Zealand in an international tournament is at the heart of what being a parent is about.
By meeting the families of the dead soldiers, Key had paid his respects in a more direct and personal way than attendance at the funeral. And there are other ministers who can attend – but being a father is not something you can delegate.