Kudos to Shearer

August 10th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister 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 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.

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63 Responses to “Kudos to Shearer”

  1. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    I see Phil Goff can’t resist making political capital out of the deaths and yet again reminding us about his American nephew as though this shows that he comes from a family of soldiers! Instead of being yet another opportunistic polly.

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  2. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Those who are making an issue of Key’s decision are the ones showing disrespect to the soldiers and their families.

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  3. berend (1,708 comments) says:

    DPF: 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.

    Let me rewrite this: Being there at the funeral of the slain sons who represented New Zealand in an international war is at the heart of what being a prime minister is about.

    I haven’t made up my mind, but DPF’s arguments are not convincing.

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  4. joe bloggs (126 comments) says:

    Key is on a hiding to nothing in this situation:

    In the eyes of some bigoted nut-bars like The Jackel and ever-intolerant Tracey across at the Stranded Key should be hung, drawn and quartered for not attending these funerals…

    …while other prats will accuse him of failing to be a good parent if he doesn’t front up to support his son…

    Good on Casper for doing the decent thing. And good on Key for talking privately with the families AND giving his support to his son.

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  5. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Why do we have this idea that the PM should go to these funerals?

    Since when was it obligatory that political leaders should go to all these funerals?

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  6. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    The PM will be at the funeral. Trying to score political points on the back of this is beneath contempt.

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  7. s.russell (1,641 comments) says:

    I think Key has made the right choice. Shearer was wise not to criticise, but would have been wiser to support – it would have made him seem bigger.

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  8. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    John Key paid his respects to the families in private and having just lost a son I am sure they would fully support him in being there for his own son; these moments are to precious to let slip! I think people forget that being the PM doesn’t leave a lot of time to be a dad.

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  9. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    It was always going to happen- one day there would be a conflicted schedule or there were just too many funerals occurring and the pattern would have to be broken. it was also one of the inherent risks in taking up the americanised culture of overeulogising military casualties – if you build up the drama, expect some flak if not there at climax.

    Good on Key for putting in time to those closest to him

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  10. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Shearer was wise not to criticise, but would have been wiser to support – it would have made him seem bigger.

    I think Shearer’s response was correct as it was, he shouldn’t judge or comment one way or the other.

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  11. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    Thats right! Young Max has made HUGE SACRIFICES. Unlike the dead soldiers, whose sacrifice has been limited to merely being killed in action in a distant land.

    Honestly, Key should be more way, way more careful with his language.

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  12. Ross12 (1,425 comments) says:

    I think JK has done the right thing as has David Shearer. For all those Opposition supproters trying make political storm out of this , its pathetic. I’m sure the parents would have valued the private as much if not more than an attendance at the funeral .
    Pete G at 11.21 has “hit the nail on the head”

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  13. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Can’t get much lower than this:

    Bad form, Johnny.

    It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to turn up to a funeral with blood on your hands, but it is your fucking job you lazy self-obsessed cowardly piece of shit.

    Oh and what a dick move hiding in shame behind your child, who is now part of the story. Real leader this guy.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-10082012/comment-page-1/#comment-504964

    felix often does nasty but this is bad even by his standards. Who is the cowardly ‘person’?

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  14. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    I’m over this national hand-wringing BS that happens whenever a kiwi soldier is killed on active service. They sign up for it and no doubt wanted to be there…its a war zone…..get over it and let the family deal with it. My old Ma says they didn’t carry on like this in WW2…..

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  15. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    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.

    I absolutely agree, DPF. Well said.

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  16. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Don’t be a prat fishboy, you are letting your bitterness get in the place of whatever limited commonsense you may once have possessed.

    Those who have lost a child will overwhelmingly line up behind John Key’s decision on the grounds that we have all looked back on the times when we could have taken the difficult decision to support our family with scarce time but instead put other people’s expectations ahead of family.

    It was interesting to hear talkback callers this morning claiming that the decision to stay for the funerals or not was one that should have been made by the parents of the fallen soldiers. I’m staggered at the crap masquerading as thought that goes through some people’s minds. The PM’s attendance at a funeral, any funeral, is a matter for the PM and only the PM. There is no rule or obligation that should raise an expectation of his attendance at any event other than to perform his role in the Parliament.

    Being blunt, the dead sure aren’t in a position to appreciate it.

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  17. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Fishboy. I think the word sacrifice would have been at the forefront of his mind as he thought about the parents of the slain soldiers. If we carp at Key (who is always sincere and empathetic in times like these) then we should be castigating our sports commentators for all their talk of heartbreak and tragedy at the Olympics.

    All children and parents make sacrifices. I am glad we have a PM who doesn’t want to be an absent dad especially when his boy is representing NZ.

    How crass and nasty some of our fellow citizens are.

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  18. redeye (629 comments) says:

    I think you should all give the lefties a break. They’ve got fuck all else to complain about and you know how they like complaining.

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  19. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I wonder if during the period 1999 to 2008 some New Zealanders forgot that Prime Ministers can have husbands/wives and children who also need their attention…

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  20. Lance (2,654 comments) says:

    @BeaB
    Fish_Boy is a shallow lefty troll craving attention like the snot nosed little shits I remember at school that were fucking useless at school work so did their best to disrupt the rest.

    Best to ignore the vacuous turd

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  21. RRM (9,917 comments) says:

    Hear hear. Two soldiers are dead, it’s pretty bloody obvious that all political BS should be kept well clear.

    Good to see most of the major players are managing to do this.

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  22. cubit (356 comments) says:

    There are some truly awful people on this and other blogs.

    Key has made his peace with the families. I am sure they appreciated his genuine personal communication with them. The government will be represented by a number of ministers and the opposition will also be represented.

    I know that all politicians who will be present will act in an appropriate manner. It is amazing just how much human decency comes from all who attend these sad occasions.

    Most importantly the Governor General as Commander-in- Chief will be present. This is most appropriate as it demonstrates his constitutional role with the NZ Defence Force. That is one of political neutrality which is the position that the NZDF must have.

    It is much sadder to see the ill-considered crass comments being expressed by individuals who wouldn’t know loyalty, service, courage and committment if they were bitten on the bum by these qualities. I think the families would be far more offended by the immature quasi political utterngs made by such fools. They are thought to be fools and their contributions simply substantiate that belief.

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  23. nonpartisan (41 comments) says:

    I would have respected John Key’s decision whichever way he went on this one. As he said, he was going to let someone down either way. But this is the right decision. Government at the highest level will still be represented at the funerals and a father gets to support his son representing New Zealand.

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  24. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    It seems to me the people so angry at Key not attending are really angry because they think Key has unjustly caused the soldiers’ deaths by sending them to fight in a war we shouldn’t be in. They feel he isn’t showing appropriate guilt and remorse for setting a bad policy. But if Key really stands by his decision to send Kiwi troops to Afghan he has nothing to be sorry for. It is inevitable that soldiers will be killed and injured in a war. They are all volunteers, they all know what they’re in for. You don’t see Obama attending every funeral of the American war dead. For years US media weren’t even allowed to take photos of dead soldiers’ coffins arriving back in the US.

    None of this is really about Key missing the funeral, it is about the left’s disgust over the Afghan War and Kiwi involvement in it. But do they really think letting the Taliban extremists regain total power would be an improvement? Obviously the current situation is bad, but the alternative is even worse. It isn’t just about getting justice for 9/11, it’s about stopping one of the most repressive, extremist theocratic regimes the world has ever seen.

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  25. joe bloggs (126 comments) says:

    @Pete George

    That is indeed a particularly low attack by felix. Unfortunately it’s the sort of ad hom attack from the sewer that is the Stranded that its moderators like to promote

    People forget that John Key grew up without a father to cheer him on from the sideline – I applaud his efforts to place some value on parental roles and responsibilities.

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  26. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    Rightandleft – They have been in Afghanistan for 9 years (it was actually Labour who sent them in) so Key has even less reason to feel guilt; not that he should in any way.
    I just think there are some people who don’t think things through and try to find anyway to attack people they don’t like or whose politics they disagree with.
    The troops over there actually didn’t want to come home because they felt they hadn’t finished the job and this is what they joined the Army to do; well at least the ones I know personally have said this.
    Military families tend to be very pragmatic over things like this; it is a risk that goes with the job which is not to make light of the loss in anyway. [Both my parents were army officers]

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  27. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    felix is a complete keyboard captain. $5 says hes a 90 pound weakling. And I wonder if Lyn will grace us with his presence today and convince us that that sort of post is “ok with him”. Utterly beneath contempt.

    Dont mind saying, as per yesterday, I had reservations, but JK for me has done the right thing. The media have downplayed his contact with the families, in order to create this sort of artificial storm. Shows you again the level they will stoop to really.

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  28. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    The PM made the right decision. Politics puts huge strains on families – even those of humble backbenchers. The strains on a PM’s family are exponentially greater. Was the last Labour PM with children Lange? And look what happened there…

    Soldiers who go to war zones die. All of our soldiers in Afghanistan are volunteers. A small number have been killed. Being killed is a risk of their line of work, and where they chose to do it. Roughly one person dies every week in workplace accidents in NZ. The country doesnt go into mourning, and there are no doleful laments in parliament for them, as occurs every time a single soldier gets killed, even in an accident.

    Tens of THOUSANDS of soldiers died overseas in past wars. At most, their loved ones got a form letter or telegram informing them that their son or husband had been killed in action. We need to keep these paltry losses in perspective, as Key has done. I say good on him.

    Fishboy: Every comment you make emphasises that you named yourself well.

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  29. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    Was never going to be a choice the late unlamented H1 was going to have to make fishboy, I wonder if you have any understanding what the family of an ordinary, no extraordinary New Zealand PM makes by way of service.
    As a reference you might to traverse the rather disfunctional life one Peter Davis, who became a part of Ms Clarks entourage albeit only as a desirable addition in the belief system of The Troughmaster general.

    The line between corpse cuddling and duty/respect is a knife edge at best this is just a little more complicated, your comment was sewer outfall territory.

    My sympathy respect and gratitude to the dead soldiers, may they rest in peace.

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  30. lastmanstanding (1,293 comments) says:

    Fact most of the Left dont have families in the normal course so have no understanding of what it is to have sons and daughters and the responsibilities that got with fatherhood.

    The Left sent our troops to the conflict. But of course they are too thick dumb and arrogant to even recognise this.

    the Left are below contempt.

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  31. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    And kudos to Turei:

    Metiria Turei ‏@metiria

    @LewStoddart He is right to put his son first. Key said some dumb things and should apologies. But he is still right to support his boy.

    Not sure what the dumb things she’s referring to are, that bit was a bit dumb.

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  32. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    fidhboy:”Honestly, Key should be more way, way more careful with his language.”

    There really isnt enough irony in the whole wide world for you is there fishboy? Youve cornered the market in stupid, and now irony.

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  33. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    For the record I think Key has made the wrong decision on this. But recognising it is a difficult call to make and not making it an issue is greatly to Shearers credit.

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  34. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Something seems to have really rattled their marbles today. Some have been suggesting the tournament is cover for secret inter government meetings. Eg

    The baseball trip to the US may just be to brief the Prime Minister about the expected future ‘sacrifices’ that ‘they’ expect from New Zealand…

    FFS, if governments want to meet they don’t bother about arranging them under cover of kids sports tournaments.

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  35. Tauhei Notts (1,711 comments) says:

    Who put the muzzle on Mallard over this matter?
    I had bet $10 that he would come up with a stupid comment.
    Stuff it! there goes ten dollars.

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  36. marcw (247 comments) says:

    I just heard that piece of s..t Duncan Garner on the radio saying that John Key has made the wrong choice. Pardon my French, but who the fuck does this little prick imagine gives a stuff about what he thinks. And why does a Radio Live radio station give the a..sole a platform for his smarmy irrelevant opinions. /endrant.

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  37. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    Bad move. When you sign up to be Prime Minister, you sign up to the responsibility of being a significant public figure.

    Yes, you may have a kid who has shit you need to attend to. But as a responsible parent, you are to explain to them and let them understand the gravity and nature of your role. Just get the mum to attend the baseball game or an uncle, when you compare the two events – it’s just ridiculous.

    Mass loss of respect for Key on this one.

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  38. trout (939 comments) says:

    I would like to hear Celia Lashlie’s view of this. She is adamant that boys need responsible fathers; fathers that keep their word and support their sons when required. The idea of explaining to a sixteen year old ‘ the gravity and nature of your role’ is just cant. Sixteen year olds are in a world of their own liable to go off in any direction; as a parent you neglect them at your peril. Respect for the dead but the living are the future.

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  39. lesterpk (27 comments) says:

    No loss of respect here, not for this issue anyway.
    As a recently retired serviceman of 18yrs, I can say what annoys servicemen more is when politicians turning up at funerals to pay respects etc, yet constantly underpay us, not provide enough money for quality equipment and training, yet still expect us to keep doing the job better. And often we do, we manage, we spend more time doing a job than if we had the right tools, we just get on with it, we dont have a union, we never go on strike and we are convenient kicking boys for the tree hugging left. We do it becasue we feel we have to. These two guys died not for their country, their beliefs but for their mates. Their mates were in trouble and needed help, and when that call came they went into harms way for their mates, nothing else. Ake ake kia kaha.

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  40. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    trout: Very well said.

    Jimmy Smits: Utter nonsense. If Peter Fraser had attended very memorial service for every soldier killed in WW II he wouldnt have had time to do anything else. And the bereaved back then didn’t even have a body flown home to grieve over.

    I hasten to add that it is quite right and proper that soldiers killed overseas should be flown home wherever possible.

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  41. Bob R (1,370 comments) says:

    The right thing to do would be to accept Afghanistan is a futile mission and send the troops off somewhere else.

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  42. cubit (356 comments) says:

    @lesterpk at 2.31

    You are right on the money. That is the rationale that can be applied to the over 30,000 NZ heroes (yes the true meaning of the word) who have given their lives for not only their country but at the really shitty end of the fight for their mates. That’s what matters for soldiers. They do anything for their mates. However some of narrow minded citizens would believe that playing sport is a more noble and gallant calling. Dave Gallaher 1905 Invincibles didn’t put his life on the line for the Invincibles tour but he sure as hell did in the more important 1914-18 tour.

    Its a bloody old cliche but its soldiers that protect the fredoms that we have and in particular that which allows us to say what we like. Some seem to know no bounds as to what that means, what they enjoy and how that has been preserved for generations.

    The soldiers will be happy to have anyone at the service who wants to pay respect to their mates. They will also probably understand better than most the situation that people like the PM find themselves in from time to time.

    At the end of the day the critics really only care about their own narrow selfish agendas and in most cases their opinions just don’t count amongst real people.

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  43. tvb (4,417 comments) says:

    I did not pick up on Goff’s comments. But there is a petty mean side to Goff, which is one reason why he never fired as the alternative Prime Minister.

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  44. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    Storm in a teacup. When Key is out of the country, someone else is acting PM. The acting PM will attend. Kudos for him to acknowledging there is a conflict, and going and personally seeing the families. Some would not have. Agree that Shearer has handled this well. Others have not, but frankly those others are all idiots anyway, so who cares what they think.

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  45. mudrunner (91 comments) says:

    As an ex-serviceman I am puzzled at the political theatre that surrounds a funeral of someone KIA.

    I was appalled to find the media immediately rushing out re-interviewing family members of those who have died overseas recently (the O’Donnell family etc.) and asked to comment on these two deaths.

    Where does the escalation stop; from the family funeral service, to inclusion of members of the military unit the deceased was serving with, to wider military to RSA to politicians.

    I don’t know the answer, but I am most uncomfortable with where it has got to now.

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  46. Belinda (141 comments) says:

    Well done to John key for deciding to support his son, for such an important occassion in his son’s life.
    I’m sure English will be an adequate replacement at the dunerals.
    Kudos to David Shearer too, for not making an issue of it.

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  47. Keeping Stock (10,337 comments) says:

    Six hours on, and there has still been no moderation or comment alongside Felix’s gutless comment. Is it now safe to conclude that lprent, IrishBill nand the other moderators endorse Felix’s viewpoint?

    And to think that they call Kiwiblog “the sewer”; such rich irony…

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  48. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    John Key was up front on the issue. He went and saw the families. Why the hell is he being pilloried by some very weird people.

    Some of the comments on other blogs are disgusting.

    As someone noted above Peter Fraser was not attacked for failing to attend funerals. This over egging of grief and the ‘requirement’ for our leaders to attend these ceremonies is frankly ridiculous. The Governor-General and the Acting PM will be attending this is, in my humble opinion a more than appropriate recognition.

    Much of the animus to Key seems to be rooted in absurd attitudes from many, especially on the left. The jibes that he personally is responsible for these deaths is outrageous, especially as these men were part of the PRT which has been in Afghanistan before Key was PM.

    I saw on one blog the suggestion that Key is only going to USA for a secret meeting with OBama for which his son’s selection for a sporting event is camoflage. The deluded and vitriolic hatred of these demented people appears to have no bounds.

    I applaud Shearer’s response, but think it would have resonated more if he had positively supported Key. I find it very disturbing that there is little if any support from Labour for Shearer’s stance.

    Furthermore I was appallled at one comment I saw about Key being only too happy to be photographed with Willie Apiata, was it not one Helen Clark, noted peacenik, who never missed a photo opportunity with the military and veterans and milked the Apiata VC as much as possible. However, reality and facts are strangers to many on the left, let alone the sewr that is The Standard.

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  49. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    Life is for the living. I bet those lads who lost their lives would be saying ‘go and see your boy play baseball John!’

    What a funny little country this is where it’s even a topic of conversation. Anyway isn’t it the Gov General who’s meant to be there?

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  50. Eisenhower (137 comments) says:

    I understand the funerals are private and no politicians are invited. Any government representations will be at a memorial service.

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  51. calendar girl (1,232 comments) says:

    Outstanding comment, lesterpk @ 2:31pm. Thanks for that glimpse of service realism, stripped of the normal cant about heroism and nationalism.

    Jimmy Smits: “Mass loss of respect for Key on this one.” That’s a laugh coming from you. When have you ever felt or displayed a gram of respect for John Key?

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  52. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Thanks Eisenhower, yes, you’re correct. Which makes those abusing Key for not attending the funeral even worse.

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  53. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    But, but, Auntie Helen, that champion of all things marital, (LAV’s, RNZAF, etc.) never missed a good military funeral.

    Shame on John for not being just like her! :)

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  54. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Sorry. Meant to say “all things martial”. Mea culpa. :)

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  55. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Key is a truly awful human being. As PM, it is his absolute duty to attend.

    What sort of New Zealander is he – a baseball game or funeral?

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  56. Keeping Stock (10,337 comments) says:

    Looking in the mirror when you wrote that “awful human being” mantra, were you Hamnida?

    And what part of “private funeral” don’t you get?

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  57. fisho (19 comments) says:

    Twelve years ago, while Helen Clark was PM, the Commanding Officer of 2Sqn RNZAF was killed at RAN Nowra, Australia while flying his A4 skyhawk.
    The crash occured in front of members of 2Sqn & 75Sqn, as it was the beginning of a joint exercise between the NZDF and ADF.
    Max Bradford, then opposition defence spokesman took time out to attend the memorial service at Nowra, there was no official government (Labour) representation present.
    The Prime Minister decided not to attend the funeral at Ohakea, and instead sent her then Minister of Defence, Mark Burton. This guy was a right twat, not at all liked or respected by the military, and arrived at least half an hour late, causing a requirement to “put things on hold” until he finally showed up.
    In the weeks following, half the Labour caucus felt it “only right” to attend the funeral of Stephen Wallace, who was shot while attacking a Policeman with a softball bat following a rampage around Hawera.
    Go figure…

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  58. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    fisho, bell block, his family are known fucking scum bags.

    Thanks for the history lesson.

    The hypocrisy of the left knows no bounds. Surprised font.

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  59. axeman (252 comments) says:

    Waitara … not Bell Block or Hawera. And yes the family is well known in the town. His father’s nickname is Bullet

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  60. big bruv (13,884 comments) says:

    There are some good arguments in this thread, as well as the usual wankery from the scum left.

    While I accept that the argument put forward by DPF is a good one I still fall on the side of those who think it is the PM’s job to attend these funerals above all else.

    I know that Key made a promise to his son but his son also knows what his dad does for a living, if as Key says his family are asked to make huge sacrifices then perhaps it is time for Key to reconsider his future.

    Whilst I know it is strictly true that Key is not the commander in chief we all know that in reality he holds that title, and the commander should be there to honour his fallen men.

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  61. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Look at it this way, politics aside – If you were the PM, would you attend the funeral?

    I am sure the answer for 99% of us is yes.

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  62. fisho (19 comments) says:

    Hmmokrightitus & Axeman – Yeah, apologies. Waitara. Communications between brain and fingers not so great today.
    Hamnida – I must be the 1% then. Key put politics aside, he put his family first. I’d have done the same in this situation.
    C’est tout.

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  63. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    Same, and I was pissed at 1203 AM when I posted that :)

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