Key on Key

November 10th, 2012 at 1:51 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article by Audrey Young:

He is a little regretful at the latest couple of incidents over the shirt and the Beckham conversation.

“From time to time I might push a little bit too hard and I have got to be a bit more careful.”

But essentially he sees it as the media’s problem, not one that comes between him and the public. He hasn’t changed the way he behaves.

“These stories have always been there from time to time. Actually they are an example of where the media is generally out of sync with the public.

“The public talk colloquially, the public’s grammar’s not perfect. They kid around and I don’t think they overly mark me down for that. They just see me as a normal guy.

“I came in as and I’m going out as . The media or our opponents will try and portray that as being too casual. I don’t agree with that.

“You are not going to change me and if you do, it will look like a fraud, it will be a fraud.”

I’m glad he has said that. I’d hate to see Key become one of those politicians who says nothing at all, because it may offend someone. He has an amazing candour about him, and a great sense of humour. Yes sometimes he gets it wrong, but I see his style as a strength – but more importantly it is who he is.

The defensiveness continues with his challenge to show him an example of where he had been required to be incredibly serious and wasn’t.

“I always am. Frankly, I work 19 hours a day pretty much and six-and-a-half days a week. Within those days is a huge range of things I’m doing, a massive range.”

With 30-odd speeches a week and countless briefings on a huge range of subjects, it was little wonder he did not recall everything that was said.

Labour is trying to portray his style as meaning he is detached or lazy. Simply not the case.

He is referring to the fiasco over the spy agency GCSB which told him in September its surveillance of internet mogul Kim Dotcom in January had been unlawful and how it was unable to give him quick answers in preparation for Question Time about the number of briefings he had had.

“I ended up having to do a bit of bloody forensic analysis myself so I called (GCSB boss Ian Fletcher) in later on and said: ‘look, I just don’t think you guys have served me well. I’ve ended having to do all this work and you guys should be able to provide me with those answers’.

“And I said: ‘you’ve really let me down and you need to go away and think about it’.”

He said that conversation was what caused the GCSB to “rip the place apart” and that is when they found a note about a briefing he had had in February.

So it was Key’s ripping the GCSB a new arsehole, that led to them finding the powerpoint presentation.

Key’s relaxed character translates to his leadership style as Prime Minister – it is not hands-on in the way that characterised his predecessor, Helen Clark.

He is said to give his ministers a lot of freedom and is very relaxed with them, right up to the time he needs to be ruthless, as one insider put it.

Like a soft parent, he doesn’t do a lot of reprimanding of ministers, so that when it does happen, it carries a lot of force.

I’ve heard from MPs and Ministers what it is like, when the Prime Minister is not happy with you. You don’t want a repeat experience.

Key is emphatic that he will fight the 2014 election, dismissing claims by commentators that he has somehow lost his mojo. But that doesn’t stop him talking about legacies.

“I want to leave New Zealand in better shape than I found it. I know the job of Prime Minister is not forever and I’m going to do the best I can every day to make that difference.

There is no question he will contest 2014. I wouldn’t guarantee 2017 if he wins in 2014 – and that isn’t a bad thing. Eight years would be a reasonably good tenure.

So if he got hit by a bus this afternoon, who would replace him?

“I had historically always thought it would be Simon Power, but he obviously left.”

He agrees that Bill English, Steven Joyce and Judith Collins would put up their hands – “at least”.

And this is what I like about Key. What other Prime Minister would openly agree about possible contenders to replace him? Almost all other occupants of that office would say something along the lines of “I don’t speculate on hypotheticals”  or “It won’t be my decision” or “It is unhelpful for me to talk on this issue”.

But he reserves his highest praise for Greens co-leader Russel Norman, not Labour’s David Shearer.

“If you want my view, the politician of the year will be Russel Norman by quite some margin.

Heh, mischief making – but also true.

Key says there are three types of issues he has to deal with.

The first are those that just happen on your watch, such as the Christchurch earthquake or the application by a Chinese company to buy Crafar farms.

And for all the opposition to the approval, he is convinced Labour would have dealt with Crafar the same way if it happened under its watch.

“Shearer wouldn’t have been putting up a member’s bill to ban overseas sales (or farmland) or putting a flag on a bloody farm.”

The second type of issues are part of the Government’s agenda, such as the sale of up to 49 per cent of Mighty River Power.

Despite the opposition, National campaigned on it and Key believes National would do itself more damage if it did nothing.

“It’s better to do what you think is right and hopefully (voters) like the prescription. But you can’t be scared of your own shadow.”

The last type of issues are “your own self-inflicted mistakes”.

“Yep, we have a few of those but given the huge number of issues we deal with every day, week after week, month after month, do we get that right more often than we get it wrong?

That’s a useful categorization of the three sort of issues. With respect to the last type, I would make the point that you want greater than a 50/50 “pass” rate. I’m not saying Key is implying 50% is adequate. I agree you will never have no self-inflicted mistakes. The challenge is whether a Minister who makes them learns from their mistakes – or keeps on making them.

A very insightful piece by .

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42 Responses to “Key on Key”

  1. Anthony (784 comments) says:

    I usually think John’s supposed gaffes gain him more votes than they lose him.

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  2. s.russell (1,578 comments) says:

    I agree, Anthony: generally the ones outraged are the ones who dislike him anyway, while the silent majority agree with the non-PC implication of what he’s said.

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  3. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    “The public talk colloquially, the public’s grammar’s not perfect. They kid around and I don’t think they overly mark me down for that. They just see me as a normal guy.”

    That’s what makes the attacks of Shearer on here seem so out of sync. A mesmerising or forceful speaker does not good government make.

    Pretty good interview. One criticism is the ‘hands off’ situation, that might appear to be too casual. Particularly after JK apparently wasn’t briefed about the document English swore in JK’s absence about the GCSB affair. In tough times I don’t know if ‘loose leadership’ instils confidence, the thought of what will happen if Key needs to act if a Minister stuffs up also seems too remote.

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  4. RF (1,318 comments) says:

    John is…… Da Man.

    Head and shoulders above the pretenders in opposition.

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  5. Reid (16,061 comments) says:

    There’s a fourth type of issue, but only the discerning few realise it mostly because the media is too hopeless to pick up on them: the things that should be done which aren’t.

    Secondly, what a stupid justification for the asset sales, a bit like his stupid justification for the tax cuts. Does Key seriously think the limp-wristed watered-down “mixed ownership policy” is the reason why people voted for him instead of Liarbore? Get real.

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  6. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    God I wish he would just be gone and we could have a real leader, like say Helen………!!!!! :) :) :)

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  7. Fisiani (974 comments) says:

    In 2008 National polled 45% In 2011 48% and in 2014 may need over 50%.
    There is a proportion of the population that still does not iunderstand MMP and the primacy of the Party Vote.
    2014 will come down to “Do you want a strong government or not?”
    I just wish that there was no polling in the final week.
    Too many look at polls and try to be too clever. Voting Winston ????????????!!!!!!!!
    Stability or not?
    Strength or weakness?
    John Key has to spell it out over and over again. If you want me as Prime Minister then you should give your Party Vote to National, Thank You.

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  8. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    I wonder what’s going to be passed by stealth just before the summer holidays in teh house between Labour and National as they did passing the EFB. Traitorous coalition

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  9. Mark (1,402 comments) says:

    The Beckham gaffe was a low point and simply fucking embarrassing for him and cringe worthy for the rest of the country. It is hardly the media’s fault. Is effort in parliament denying what he said was like Clinton’s denial of having sex with Monica.

    He might be a nice guy but he should also take it on the chin when he fucks up and in the past has been very good at that and that is what made him popular. Now he is starting to take the political line of blaming the media. FFS John suck it up, admit the fuckup and just get on with running the country

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  10. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “we could have a real leader, like say Helen”

    Helen was a real leader as Key is a real leader both committed to leading agendas not policies advancing this people and nation .

    That’s the biggest truth that will emerge when it’s too late

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  11. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    Anyone that calls Beckham a dumb cunt can hardly be wrong unless he forgot to add “lucky” in there somewhere! :)

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  12. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    Thank God we have Cunliffe and Norman to fall back on then hinamanu! :)

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  13. Ross12 (1,211 comments) says:

    The comment about Norman is obviously playing games on the weekend of the Labour conference. Sorry the DPF the polls disagree with you. The recent poll had Norman as the 3rd most effective opposition politician. What the beltway and the MSM think is irrelevant.

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  14. marcw (235 comments) says:

    I am most impressed by John Key’s breadth of knowledge on most of the things he is asked about. He certainly seems to be in control of the issues around him. There always be those who disagree – that’s politics FFS. He reminds me most of Australia’s John Howard, also an incredibly knowledgeable leader, and his absence now is missed by all hardworking Aussies when you look at their current mob.

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  15. ChardonnayGuy (1,168 comments) says:

    Like Clark before him, Key is an excellent media manager. However, sooner or later, incumbency fatigue and cumulative policy errors will start to make their impact felt on the incumbent party’s political fortunes. No amount of adroit impression management and spin has been able to stave that off since the early eighties, and three terms seem to be the maximum tenure possible for New Zealand governments of any political coloration.

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  16. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    I always placed Norman as third best! :)

    It’s just hard to pick, who to keep on inserting, as first and second ahead of the Ginger Aussie tosser! ! ! …. :) :)

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  17. ChardonnayGuy (1,168 comments) says:

    Marcw, I tend to agree with you about Gillard and her pack of nohopers. Unfortunately, Abbot isn’t much better and if there hadn’t been a string of long-term ALP state governments going rancid and getting dumped as a result, Turnbull would have toppled him and taken back the leadership by now.* Australian federal politics is too damned Americanised for my liking, whereas that of NZ is more akin to the Commonwealth mainstream.

    *And hopefully, still might.

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  18. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “Thank God we have Cunliffe and Norman to fall back on then hinamanu!”

    I would say Winston. Only politician to talk about the banks and hopefully Reserve banks a lot soon.

    There needs to be huge scrutiny about the Reserve Bank who wink at corporate monopolies responsible for high unemployment, less exports and sending companies offshore.

    The devaluation of the dollar by the Fed is huge and completely ignored by the msm

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  19. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    I never realised till now you were totally deranged hinamanu! :)

    I am a slow learner! :)

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  20. Morgy (171 comments) says:

    Seriously, anyone talking up Winston have, with respect, rocks in their head. Did you see his performance in the house this week? And what we are seeing is normal behaviour!!! It beggars belief that he is considered relevant by some. What he is good at is dealing in soundbites. He has been spouting the same shit for decades. Winston, if what you have to say is the answer 95% of us don’t want to know the question. To consider having another three years after 2014 is hardly worth thinking about!

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  21. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    Piss and the fags take a serious toll on the human body after a while.

    Winston is an almost living example of how not to treat your corpus delecti. :)

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  22. Keeping Stock (10,161 comments) says:

    Peters is living on borrowed time. He is barely coherent some days, and I certainly don’t see him as being a viable option to lead NZ First in another election campaign in two years’ time. And with his current discontent with National, could anyone rule out Tau Henare returning to the party from which he was first elected into Parliament?

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  23. David Garrett (6,639 comments) says:

    KS: Yes! I had forgotten Tau orginally came in for NZ First….I don’t believe Peters has any interest in a succession plan…it’s all a game to him, and I dont think he gives a damn if the party dies with him. And Tau might just have enough of the “bovver boy” appeal to pose a threat to Peters’ leadership…therefore I can’t see Peters letting him jump ship into the NZ First caucus.

    As always, interested in what others think.

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  24. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “I came in as John Key and I’m going out as John Key.”

    Sounds like he is leaving his job. Next week? The week after next perhaps?

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  25. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    John Key has been a huge disappointment to those of us who voted for a change of direction from a socialist Labour government.

    He chose not to make changes to the policies instituted by Labour. We’re paying for that decision.

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  26. Redbaiter (7,836 comments) says:

    “If you want my view, the politician of the year will be Russel Norman by quite some margin.”

    FFS, that’s not “mischief making”.

    It’s idiocy.

    In so far as any politician really deserves any award, it wouldn’t be that deceitful commie prick, and Key needs his arse kicked for handing him such free publicity, even if he did see it as a jibe at Shearer. (although I doubt that is so)

    No strategic idea at all.

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  27. Keeping Stock (10,161 comments) says:

    @ David – the other alternative is of course Peters’ sometimes dining mate at the Green Parrot, Shane Jones. He seems to have no future with Labour, and seems to have been hung out to dry with regard to Bill Liu. Jones has probably always been in the wrong party; he is far too business-oriented and pragmatic for the ideologues in Labour.

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  28. Yvette (2,735 comments) says:

    The Beckham gaffe was a low point and simply fucking embarrassing for him and cringe worthy for the rest of the country. It is hardly the media’s fault. His effort in parliament denying what he said was like Clinton’s denial of having sex with Monica.

    And I guess Bill would have derived more from cornering Monica in the Oval Office, than John Key screwing with Winston in Question Time.
    But we still await an explanation of that – was it another John Banks technicality of phrase, or did he not say the batshit thing at all?
    In each case with John Key this disavowal of responsibility is far more cringeworthy than what he is accused of.

    But Labour and Winston are more fucking embarrassing –
    When Key knew about Dotcom is not very relevant, Did our Police hand themselves over to total FBF direction is.

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  29. Keeping Stock (10,161 comments) says:

    @ Mark – whatever type of shit Key described Beckham as being, it is hard to argue that he was speaking an untruth. Beckham is indeed as thick as two short planks.

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  30. OneTrack (2,729 comments) says:

    ross69 – You wish. No, you are going to have to face him at the polls in 2014.

    Good luck :-)

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  31. Mark (1,402 comments) says:

    @ Mark – whatever type of shit Key described Beckham as being, it is hard to argue that he was speaking an untruth. Beckham is indeed as thick as two short planks.

    What I know of sportsmen is that the very good ones are very seldom as thick as you may like to believe. I have never met Beckham so I am not going to judge him one way or the other

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  32. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Key is a gonna at or before the next election and good riddance. As manolo says a huge disappointment with business as usual for labour policies. With the,addition of,giving far more away to the iwi elites than labour ever ever did.

    They should have tried sucking money away from the nambys and bludgers and,putting into clean green high tech enterprises that would provide high wages and attract national votes. But no, they continue the same high tax, big government wealth redistributing policies that enevitably end up with large numbers of unskilled low wages workers which are socialist fodder.

    Pathetic. He should FO now or give us a snap election.

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  33. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > ross69 – You wish. No, you are going to have to face him at the polls in 2014.

    Well, I was only taking him at his word, a dangerous thing to do I realise.

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  34. duggledog (1,411 comments) says:

    Manolo, he hasn’t made those changes we all wanted because he would have been out the door at the last election. The electorate would have really felt it in the pocket if he had and then he would have been goneburgers. Straight back to square one. The policies were basically booby traps left by Cullen & Clark remember?

    Sure I would have preferred they cut the DPB to first child only, axed WFF, interest free student loans and all the other things we know we can’t afford but to quote Yes Prime Minister, government is just carrying on with whatever isn’t it? It only reacts after the disaster has happened, not before. It’s the human story!

    It’s a long time to the next election. I would be willing to bet that he has some excellent lollies to hand out shortly beforehand. Lollies that the average working joe appreciates which are fiscally neutral. Electricity for example?

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  35. David Garrett (6,639 comments) says:

    ross69: dont spoil your track record of idiocy by actually reading the whole article…you’d feel as silly as you look.

    KS: Now, Jones wanting to got to NZF I can believe…but same problem: why would Peters let a cuckoo in the nest who is almost as attractive to the vultures of the media as he is? Someone who might make a credible leader in waiting?

    I dunno….one thing’s for sure – Jones is dead man walking in Labour…

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  36. Harriet (4,607 comments) says:

    “…..Yep, we have a few of those but given the huge number of issues we deal with every day, week after week, month after month, do we get that right more often than we get it wrong?…”

    Keys finally admitting he’s got gay marriage wrong. :cool:

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  37. Johnboy (15,382 comments) says:

    Keys finally admitting he’s got gay marriage wrong. :cool:

    Probably because he isn’t a poof and married a woman like most of us do.

    However everyone to their own tastes I say! :)

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  38. Reid (16,061 comments) says:

    Keys finally admitting he’s got gay marriage wrong.

    No he was meaning someone else got something wrong Harriet. John doesn’t make mistakes, you see.

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  39. berend (1,660 comments) says:

    DPF: “I always am. Frankly, I work 19 hours a day pretty much and six-and-a-half days a week. Within those days is a huge range of things I’m doing, a massive range.”

    Remember, this is the party of supposed self-reliance values.

    But the guy works big government hours.

    Why doesn’t he go golfing for a few days a week and govern less? Will probably work a lot better for this country if it is left alone.

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  40. itstricky (1,678 comments) says:

    Seriously David?

    Can you watch this:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/video.cfm?c_id=280&gal_objectid=10846243&gallery_id=128931

    and say “he has an amazing candour about him, and a great sense of humour”

    Really? Seriously?

    Maybe everyone else just drinks more Key-ade than me but I see a smary, self interested guy who didn’t really, actually, say sorry?

    I teach my kids this stuff and I hope to heavens above this isn’t they way they would say “sorry for offending you” if they had to stand in front of a room full of journalists.

    Drink some more Key-ade. I think I’ll stick with Guy William’s Borat quote. Now, THAT’S funny.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10845253

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  41. publicwatchdog (2,195 comments) says:

    “You are not going to change me and if you do, it will look like a fraud, it will be a fraud.”

    Once a Wall St bank$ter – always a Wall St bank$ter?

    John Key – NZ’s first U$A Prime Minister?

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

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  42. Azeraph (603 comments) says:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with our national party or the media, I get the feeling that kiwi’s will want to start celebrating the fourth of July or start hosting thanksgiving dinner parties, We’ve adopted Halloween, A total alien tradition that has nothing to do with our history in any form what so ever, Honestly, I see our Pakeha wishing they could celebrate Independence Day, the funny thing is is that while we are ingratiating ourselves to the States, they in turn are facing the cliff. Common sense tells me we should put all things on hold until we know they are stabilizing, now i don’t everything but The States are toxic, so why is there a prevalence for them amongst our Pakeha rather than there is for the good ole girl up north?

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