Key Derangement Syndrome hits a new low

April 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

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Toothfish is an anonymous environmental activist, who has facebooked this poster which he or she wants donations for, so they can run at least 1,000 of them.

41 people on Facebook have “liked” the poster including former Green candidate and social media campaigner Max Coyle. Now to be fair to the Greens, I am sure the vast majority of them would find the poster as disgusting as the rest of us. There is a reason Coyle is “former” with them.

Personally I hope he/she gets lots of donations for his or her campaign as I can’t think of anything more likely to increase support for National than people seeing those posters.

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Talking down NZ’s contribution

April 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I know being in opposition is hard, but you don’t have to try and portray a victory as a defeat. David Cunliffe on NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     Exactly. So the earlier the better, and I will get to one of your calls in just a moment, but just a quick comment on the issue that came out late last night over the court ruling on whaling, I think this is a significant victory New Zealand and Australia.

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s fantastic. Well, it’s a significant victory for Australia. Where the hell was the New Zealand Government? I mean, we had New Zealanders testifying, but once again, the National Government’s asleep at the wheel. Kiwis hate whaling. We hate whaling and previous governments had a really strong record against it. Why did we leave it to the Aussies to take the thing to the International Court?

So did we leave it to the Aussies and was National asleep at the wheel. Let’s look at the official court ruling from the International Court of Justice:

WHALING IN THE ANTARCTIC (AUSTRALIA v. JAPAN:
NEW ZEALAND INTERVENING)

New Zealand was represented by no less than the Attorney-General, the Deputy Solicitor-General, an Ambassador, five MFAT staff and one of the Attorney-General’s staff. Not exactly asleep at the wheel.

NZ is mentioned 53 times in the judgement.

Also while looking through the transcript a few other fibs:

Well, they did rise in some cases by more, although there has been a real open jawing since of the residential versus industrial power prices and, of course, now, thanks to John Key and his mob, half of that money goes to private investors, most of them offshore. 

Over 70% of investors are domestic. False.

TIM FOOKES:     Well, it’s – look – I am looking in your eyes. Why, then, is John Key so popular? Why does…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             He has had a long time at it, which is good for him, and I’ve only had a few months, so I’ve got work to do. I completely acknowledge that. Second thing is, he has got the best PR that money can buy. He’s got more money than God. 

How did attacking John Key for his wealth go for David Cunliffe last time he tried it? He doesn’t seem to learn.

And is he really saying that John Key is popular because he uses his personal wealth on purchasing public relations?

If one-quarter of the missing million vote it’s game over red rover, you’ve got a Labour led government, right? One-quarter of the missing million vote – game over. And we’re going to get them to the polls.

Such confidence.

UPDATE: A commenter has pointed out it was Helen Clark who dropped the legal action against Japan on the basis NZ could not win. So Cunliffe was a member of the Government that decided not to take legal action, and he criticises National as being asleep at the wheel, when they are the ones who actually decided to take legal action.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will push for a diplomatic end to whaling after the Government dropped plans for legal action against Japan.

Miss Clark said “fantastic” legal advice – from New Zealand whaling commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer – suggested it would be difficult to mount a successful case at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

What an own goal. Maybe a journalist could ask David Cunliffe if he voted in Cabinet in favour of not taking legal action.

Of course he doesn’t seem to think it is fair to point out what he did in Government. From NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     But, hang on, it was eight and a half per cent or close to 10 per cent in those 2007-2008 years, as well. So why…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yeah, and we could go back to the Holyoake years, and justify all sins by saying, well, when Rob Muldoon was a boy, or Keith Jacka was in Parliament, you know, things were different then. Well, sorry, the current Government has been in power nearly six years. It’s time they manned up and took some responsibility. They cannot get away with excuse after excuse, wah, wah, wah, it was different under Helen Clark. Sorry, guys, grow up. 

Holyoake was Prime Minister 50 years ago. There is a big difference between harking back 50 years and pointing out the record of Labour the very last time they were in office, ad their leader was a senior Minister.

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The 3rd anti-nuclear summit

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance writes:

As Europe hovers on the brink of a second Cold War (or so the rhetoric goes), there could not be a better time for more than 50 world leaders to gather to discuss nuclear security.

Prime Minister John Key will join the likes of US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye in the Hague tomorrow.

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) was established back in 2009, by Obama, to respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism, and shore up international security systems around fissile materials.

It’s the third such meeting. Previous pow-wows failed to realise Obama’s ultimate goal: to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials by the end of 2013.

Key was a star-turn at the last summit in Seoul in 2012. In an off-the-cuff address, he cautioned a room chock-full of the world’s most powerful, that they would be held to account for failing to stop a nuclear terrorist attack.

The speech clearly made an impact on Obama – who gave Key a shout-out in his closing remarks.

I recall some on the left predicting that Key would be a catastrophe with foreign affairs as his background was all business and no government.

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Rutherford on Key in China

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford writes:

Seconds after John Key stepped off the plane from Shanghai to Hong Kong, the third and final stop of his Chinese visit, officials began rolling the red carpet away.

The move was no doubt to minimise the disruption to other passengers rather than a slight on the rest of the delegation, but was symbolic of the presidential nature of the trip.

How much of it has been down to  Key, and how much to Kiwi officials based in Wellington and Beijing, cannot be calculated. But in diplomatic terms the trip appears to be flawless, even as storms surround two of Key’s colleagues at home.

New Zealand achieved a trifecta – with a deal to directly trade currency, lofty new trade targets set and Key hosted at a private dinner with President Xi Jinping.

Only a week ago it appeared as though this visit was to deliver a humiliating defence of New Zealand’s food safety standards following last year’s botulism scare, to a country where even many locals refuse to drink the tap water due to contamination fears.

While there was no public acknowledgement that the botulism incident was a false alarm from Key’s host, the Chinese government could hardly have given stronger signals to its businesses of the high regard New Zealand is held. The frequent access to top Chinese leadership and growing rapport between Key and Xi was evidence New Zealand is given disproportionate importance by Beijing relative to our global status.

I’ll blog more on this during the week, but Key is incredibly good at developing not just professional relationships with other leaders, but a strong personal rapport also.

He’s not just done that with countries we share a common heritage with (Anglosphere of Australia, Canada, UK, US) but also President Xi of China, President Santos of Colombia, President Nieto of Mexico, former President Medvedev of Russia, President Sein of Burma etc.

And relationships do matter. They can be more important than almost anything else when it comes to politics (and business).

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Returning the DVDs

March 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has an extract from the the women’s mags about the 30th anniversary of John and Bronagh Key’s marriage. Had a wee chuckle about John learning that he’s learnt answering back is not a good strategy, and also how Bronagh had set a time limit on how long he can use his new waterblaster for (they are so fun to use!).

What struck me was this line:

He also dropped off his own dry-cleaning and returned DVDs.

It’s just such a normal thing to do – both hiring DVDs for family viewing, but also dropping them back. What I mean by that is that when you are Prime Minister it is very easy to get caught up in your own importance. You have an entire country to run. You work 80+ hour weeks. You need to prioritise your valuable time to the areas where you can make the most difference. So it would be very easy to have a view that it is ridiculous for you to be the family member who pops the DVDs back to the video store.

But the fact he does, I think says a lot about why he is still so popular. He has stayed remarkably down to earth, ranging from beer pong to delivering pizza to his son to dropping back the DVDs. Some will say nah it is all an act, but with respect I disagree entirely. You can’t fake that.

I’m not saying that is a reason to vote for him – absolutely not. I’m saying it is part of why he has remained very popular.

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Where Key got his info from

February 13th, 2014 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

I’m enjoying the belief some have expressed that because John Key repeats something (that Winston had visited the Dotcom mansion three times) five days after the Herald printed it, that he must have found this out via the GCSB.

That is completely and totally rubbish.

He got told by Barack Obama over golf, and Obama found out from the NSA satellite permanently focused on following Kim Dotcom about.

That is far far more likely that the possibility that the Prime Minister actually reads the NZ Herald!

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Our reptilian overlord?

February 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Who’s to say Prime Minister John Key isn’t a reptilian overlord in disguise?

Key’s own office certainly can’t; its response to an official information request was that it had no data to disprove the theory.

The response came after Shane Warbrooke requested “any evidence to disprove the theory that Mr John Key is in fact a David Icke-style shape reptilian shifting alien ushering humanity towards enslavement”.

Key’s chief of staff responded this month, saying “no such information existed” to probable cries of “they would say that” from conspiracy theorists.

David Icke is a former British footballer and broadcaster who descended into ridicule after claiming he was the “Son of the Godhead” and promoting conspiracy theories, which he has since turned into books.

At the heart of his theories lies the idea that a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are in fact reptilian.

It was a silly OIA request.

Everyone knows it is Joyce who is the true reptilian overlord.

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Beer Pong

February 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has defended downing several cups of beer during a drinking game yesterday, saying it was not “too crazy” and in the spirit of fun.

Mr Key was challenged to a game of beer pong at the Big Gay Out in Auckland’s Pt Chevalier yesterday. He agreed, and had to down several cups of beer in the process.

On TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning Mr Key defended his decision to take part in the game.

Asked about the link between games like beer pong and irresponsible drinking, Mr Key said: “I’ve heard those sorts of things before. I mean look, it was a bit of fun. It was about that much beer [about an inch] in the cups, so it wasn’t anything too crazy.”

Mr Key added it was “in the spirit of a bit of fun”.

Beer Pong is a great fun game, and as the PM says the amount in a cup is around a quarter of a standard drink so he probably had less than a standard drink in total. The fun police need to be less uptight. He got challenged to take part, and he played along for a couple of minutes. I guess some people would rather he gave them all a lecture on how beer pong is an evil game, and they should all drink fruit juice instead of beer.

He said he would “definitely win” a game of beer pong against Labour leader David Cunliffe.

“Wouldn’t be any doubt about it.”

Now that would be a great televised sport :-)

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Different reactions

February 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Prime Minister John Key was mobbed by fans from the Asian community vying for a photo opportunity when he entered the event.

The day showcased the cultural diversity of New Zealand, he said.

“There are over 200,000 New Zealanders of Chinese ethnicity; they’re a hugely important partner from New Zealand’s point of view.

“I think if you look at New Zealand, we are based on a bicultural foundation, but we’re very much a multi-cultural society. It makes Auckland and New Zealand a far more interesting place when you can celebrate Chinese New Year, or Diwali, or whatever the cultural function might be.”

When Auckland Mayor Len Brown took to the stage at the event he was met with a chorus of polite clapping and a smattering of boos from the crowd.

He welcomed the crowed enthusiastically, ignoring hecklers who voiced their disappointment over his extra-marital affair by using duck callers – alluding to his labelling as a “lame duck mayor”.

I wonder how many of his volunteer translators where there?

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Luck worth more than competence

January 31st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

luck

 

The above is from the book “Luck” by Ed Smith.

It is interesting that a head of government does better when the world economy is strong, rather than when their local economy is strong compared to the world economy.

That makes the high ratings for John Key the more remarkable when you consider that the world economy has been so lacklustre for the last five years.

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Caption Contest

January 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

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Captions below. As always funny, not nasty. Enjoy.

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Hide on Key

January 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

One of the more common and basic mistakes to make in politics is to underestimate your opponent. It’s an easy thing to do. Your opponents are doing it all wrong and so must be either stupid or crooked and perhaps both.

Your team readily agrees and the trap is easy to fall into. And so it is with Labour and John Key.

Labour continues to dismiss Key as a political lightweight who would sell his own mother, in Labour leader David Cunliffe’s words.

They overlook that Key toppled Labour’s best and strongest leader, has seen off Phil Goff and David Shearer, and who Cunliffe has yet to dent. That’s no political lightweight.

Indeed.

Labour pooh-poohed Key’s credentials in foreign policy. He now has David Cameron’s number on speed dial.

Previous New Zealand prime ministers were ecstatic for our future trade prospects with a two-minute “pull aside” at a formal meeting. Key plays golf with the President of the United States on his holidays.

Key, with no fuss, has turned over 13 of his own MPs in just two years to refresh the party. That’s rare political power and skill.

Cunliffe, meanwhile, is stuck with the team that didn’t want him and which includes ministers from the 1980s plus the party’s two previous leaders.

Over a quarter of Labour’s caucus entered Parliament in the 1980s or 1990s.

Clark was a very popular prime minister. Her average in the preferred prime minister stakes was almost 2 times her predecessor Jim Bolger’s. That’s an extraordinary achievement. But Key’s is even more extraordinary. His average is fully 10 percentage points above Clark’s.

That’s a 25 per cent advantage.

Labour has taken to calling Key lucky. They persist in underestimating him. It’s like they just have to wait until his luck runs out.

I got to work with Key. It’s not luck. This is a man who is smart, who works hard and who understands people.

National needs to poll mid 40s or high 40s to win a third term. This would be unprecedented as under MMP no other party has ever got higher than low 40s – even for their first term. But if anyone can do it, Key will.

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Key and kids

January 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The prime minister’s yearly pilgrimage to Ratana took a detour this morning as he called into a Manawatu early childcare centre for a chat and some cookies. …

Childcare co-founder Lorelei Dekker said the children have been prepping for the prime minister’s visit all week, learning the 101 of New Zealand politics, preparing questions and baking biscuits.

”Their confidence was incredible,” she said.

”He was great at interacting with the kids, he made it all about them and he wasn’t afraid to get down and get dirty, even eating an apple with the children.

”He provides a good role model for our children and at the end of it he was just a normal guy that can talk to kids and that’s just fantastic.”

The PM genuinely loves interacting with kids. I’m not sure if he still does it, but I know his first few years in office, he would always do hand written replies to letters from kids.

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Absolutely brilliant!

January 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

I absolutely love the announcements made today by the Prime Minister around education. There are a lot of things that I have to fund as a taxpayer that I resent. But paying top teachers and top principals more is not one of them. The international research is crystal clear that the biggest single factor in a child’s educational sucess is the quality of their teacher. Rewarding top principals and teachers with new roles that can pay between $10,000 and $50,000 more in an excellent investment.

The details announced by the PM are:

So today I am announcing four new roles for principals and teachers in New Zealand schools, and investing an extra $359 million into teaching and school leadership over the next four years.

These are changes that will benefit kids across New Zealand, because high-quality teaching leads to better achievement at school.

The first new role is an Executive Principal.

Executive Principals will be the top principals from across the country.

They will provide leadership across communities of schools, supporting other principals to raise student achievement.

We envisage there will be around 250 Executive Principals, or about one for every 10 schools, on average.

An Executive Principal will remain in charge of their own school but be released for two days a week to work across a grouping of schools, which will include primary and secondary schools.

Executive Principals will have a proven track record in raising achievement and they will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals.

They will be appointed by an external panel, for up to four years. Executive Principals will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary, and they will be judged on their results.

So that’s the first new role.

The second is a similar sort of position, again working across a group of schools, but at the teacher level.

These teachers we are calling Expert Teachers, and we intend to establish around 1,000 of these new positions.

Expert Teachers will have a proven track record in raising the performance of their students, particularly in maths, science, technology and literacy.

Expert Teachers will be based in their usual school, but will be released for two days a week to work across their school grouping, under the guidance of their Executive Principal.

They will get alongside other teachers, working with them to develop and improve classroom practice and raise student achievement.

Executive Principals will oversee the appointment of Expert Teachers and the appointment will be for up to four years. They will be paid an annual allowance of $20,000 on top of their usual salary.

Executive Principals and Expert Teachers will drive a whole new level of collaboration between schools and between teachers, with best practice becoming widespread across school communities.

The third new role we are going to introduce is for the top teachers in schools.

We want the best teachers to be recognised for improving student achievement and to act, in a formal sense, as role models for other teachers.

So we are going to introduce a new role – a Lead Teacher. There will be around 5,000 Lead Teacher positions across the country.

Lead Teachers will be high-performing teachers who can demonstrate the best classroom practice.

Their classrooms will be open to other teachers almost all the time, so teachers can observe and discuss classroom practice with a model professional.

Lead Teachers will be paid an annual allowance of $10,000 on top of their existing salary. That allowance is in recognition of their status and their new responsibility in helping other teachers to raise achievement.

These new roles of Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers means more good teachers will stay in a teaching role, because they can see a career path that keeps them in the classroom where they are so effective. And that has huge benefits for the children they teach.

We are going to give extra funding to schools so teachers can take time out of their normal classroom to work with Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

And we are also going to establish a $10 million fund for schools and teachers to develop and research effective teaching practice in areas such as writing, maths, science and digital literacy.

The final change I want to announce today is that we are also going to better match up schools that are really struggling, with really excellent principals.

To do this we are going to establish a new role of Change Principal.

Change Principals will be top principals who are paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.

Around 20 Change Principals will be appointed each year, for up to five years.

At the moment, the incentive is for principals to go to larger schools, where the salary is higher, rather than to schools that are the most challenging.

We are going to change that.

So those are the four new roles we are creating – Executive Principals, Change Principals, Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

So that is $10,000 more for 5,000 Lead Teachers, $20,000 more for 1,000 Expert Teachers, $40,000 more for 250 Executive Principals and $50,000 more for 20 Change Principals – and most of them having a focus on not just helping their school, but helping their neighbouring schools also.

What is great is good teachers can earn more just by being good at their job, without having to move from the classroom into administration.

I’ve been waiting almost decades for a Government to do something like this, and reward top teachers with more pay. It should both lead to better recruitment and retention, but also should lead to teaching being seen as just as professional and important a vocation to go into, as medicine and law. The NZ Initiative reports on education nightlight how important it is to have teaching seen as an esteemed profession.

Some of the international research around the importance of teacher quality is:

The 2009 report by the international McKinsey agency, shows that over three years, learning with a high performing teacher rather than a low performing teacher can make a 53-percentage point difference for two students who start at the same achievement level.

There is also a quote from Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills for the OECD, January 2014 about the proposed changes.

 “Top school systems pay attention to how they select and train their staff, they watch how they improve the performance of teachers who are struggling and how to structure teachers’ pay and career. They provide intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers with an environment in which teachers work together to frame good practice.

“The reforms now being introduced (in New Zealand), with real career paths, support and evaluation, and recognition including monetary rewards, hold the promise for New Zealand to join that group of countries.”

 I hope all stakeholders in the education sector will welcome this investment. They’d be mad not to.

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Key announces potential partners and new Ministers

January 21st, 2014 at 4:18 pm by David Farrar

The PM has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today announced changes to the National-led Government’s Ministerial line-up, to take effect from Tuesday, 28 January.

Internal Affairs and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain, who has announced his intention to retire from Parliament at the upcoming general election, will be resigning from the Ministry.

Peter Dunne will be appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Mr Dunne will be a Minister outside Cabinet as he was prior to his resignation in June last year.

Michael Woodhouse will be promoted to the vacancy in Cabinet, and will retain all of his current responsibilities.

Paula Bennett picks up the role of Minister of Local Government, in addition to her current portfolio responsibilities.

The new Minister outside Cabinet will be Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, who will be appointed Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and Associate Minister of Local Government. Mr Lotu-liga is the MP for Maungakiekie and was first elected to Parliament 2008.

Congratulations to Sam and Michael for their promotions. Also kudos to Chris Tremain for stepping down early to allow a reshuffle. In terms of Peter Dunne’s return, I personally think a better timing would have been after the next election, if he had been re-elected by Ohariu voters. I don’t think seven months has been long enough.

The PM also announced:

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

As I made clear, my preference was for National to rule NZ First out again. If they do end having to do a deal with Winston, it might give them a third term, but it could come at a considerable long-term cost. I am reserving the right to say “I told you so” if they do, and it all falls apart!

However the public will decide which parties make it to Parliament, and how many are needed to form a Government. So National’s options in order of appeal seem to be:

  1. ACT/United Future
  2. Maori Party
  3. Conservatives
  4. NZ First

ACT could get 1 – 2 MPs. United Future 1. So National needs 58 or 59 seats (if no overhang) to govern just with them.

Maori Party will get 1 – 3 MPs. That means National needs 55 to 58 seats to govern with them.

Conservatives could well get 5 MPs (3.6% if they get one electorate seat) and at least three if they win a seat. So National needs 50 to 55 seats to be able to govern with NZ First if the four minor parties all win an electorate seat.

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A very weird editorial

January 6th, 2014 at 8:48 am by David Farrar

Today’s Dom Post editorial is very weird. It links the Obama-Key round of golf to the US-NZ thaw in military exercises and that the US is trying to limit China’s influence in the Pacific. It goes on to warn about getting too chummy with the US.

It is one of the more bizarre editorials of recent times. First of all it ignores the fact that Obama is well known for not using golf as a diplomatic tool. Only 5% or so of his games have been with elected officials, half of them with Joe Biden. He played a round of golf with Key, because they get on well and were both in Hawaii. To try and make this all about China is frankly weird and off the planet.

Even worse, they seem to be suggesting that the game of golf was a bad thing, because it might offend China. Jesus Christ. Seriously? I can only presume the normal editorial writer is on holiday, and this one was written by a 17 year old intern.

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Obama’s Golfing Partners

January 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Time has an interesting infographic showing who Obama’s normal golfing partners are.

 

 

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Golfing partners

January 3rd, 2014 at 1:24 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

United States President Barack Obama has rounded up a new golf partner: Prime Minister John Key.

The two leaders teed off on a sunny and breezy morning at a course at a military base on Oahu, the Hawaiian island where Obama is renting a vacation home. Key owns a home in Hawaii.

The golf outing put Key in rarified company. Obama is an avid golfer, but prefers to limit his playing partners to a close circle of friends and advisers. Among those who have also scored invitations to play with Obama in the past are former President Bill Clinton and House Speaker John Boehner.

Rounding out the foursome on Thursday (Friday NZ time) were Max Key, the prime minister’s teenage son, and Marvin Nicholson, Obama’s personal aide.

According to one site, Obama has only played golf with another politician nine times of of 145 games (and five of those were Joe Biden). The fact he has asked John Key to join him for golf, is a sign of a significant personal friendship, rather than it being a political act. You host other leaders at the White House when they visit, you don’t play golf with them on holiday.

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Credit: The Obama Diary site

A nice photo of Max Key with President Obama. He has got tall! Most of the time it sucks having your Dad as the Prime Minister, but I guess sometimes it is pretty cool :-)

It is worth reflecting that Key is exceptionally good at establishing personal relationships with other leaders.He has done it with Harper and Cameron who are also from the centre-right but also with Gillard and Obama, who are not. I also understand he has an excellent rapport with the Queen, as evidenced by the rare invite to Balmoral.

My theory is that Key isn’t fazed by anyone, and so when he meets people like the US President, or the Queen, he treats them much the same way as he treats everyone else – with some humour and as a person, not a position.

Some people got really excited that a junior sub-editor at the New York Daily News didn’t know who John Key was, when captioning a photo from the Mandela funeral. Well I guess if you have to choose between being known by a junior sub-editor, or the US President, I know which one I’d want :-)

Anyway, we’re all waiting for the real news – what were the scores, and who won? :-)

UPDATE: I understand that Obama and Key Sr played on the same team, and beat Key Jr and Nicholson.

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No photo op please :-)

December 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Prime Minister has listed an invitation to undergo bowel cancer screening as one of the most bizarre he has received in his role as Prime Minister – but he’s giving it a go anyway, saying it is important to highlight the issue.

Mr Key revealed he would go through the bowel screening process when he was asked on the Breeze radio station about the strangest things he had been asked to do for the cameras – although he was quick to add that he did not think it would come with photos.

“I thought in the end I’m 52 and I’m a male, it is a good thing to do and the second thing I thought was it will help promote men’s health awareness.”

I had a test for prostate cancer a few weeks ago, and also a lung x-ray for lung cancer (as I had some potential symptoms, even though I am a non-smoker, 15% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers). When you get into 40s and 50s it really is worth getting yourself checked out more regularly.

But I am glad to see the PM’s screening will not be a photo op :-)

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The eternal Prime Minister

November 20th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Opposition may as well pack up and go on holiday: next year’s election is already won and John Key will be the Prime Minister for all eternity, says the monk at Thailand’s Wat Pho temple.

Mr Key and his wife Bronagh were shown around the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok yesterday, one of the city’s oldest wats with hundreds of Buddhas covered in gold leaf – including the famous Reclining Buddha, 15m high and 43m long.

Mr Key was shown around by monk Phrasuthi Thammanawat, who proved to have a good sense of humour.

He told Mr Key that his brush with the Reclining Buddha meant he would be the PM forever.

We could rename ourselves as North Zealand :-)

“If you believe it, apparently you’ll get luck. And he’s convinced I’ll be the permanent Prime Minister of New Zealand.”

Mr Key appeared slightly horrified by his new fate, but clearly hoped the luck would hold for at least another year.

I can think of previous inhabitants of that office who would be delighted, not horrified, by that prediction.

What he had not seen was that his wife was moving behind him, filling them even more diligently. Given Mr Key has promised Bronagh will have some control over his post-politics life, it is likely that her version of good luck was the opposite of him becoming the Prime Minister in perpetuity.

Heh, I think that is a safe bet.

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Garner on Key

November 12th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

National is celebrating five years in Government and John Key can be pretty pleased with his efforts.

Five years on and, if you look at the rolling poll of polls, National sits at around 48% and Labour 33%. Though that masks how close any MMP election would be; add the Greens to Labour and it’s much, much closer.

A single percentage point will probably decide the next election. The Prime Minister is well aware of that. He can count. It’s why Key is now openly talking about Colin Craig and the Conservatives as a potential coalition partner.

Key prefers Craig to Winston Peters. I’m not surprised. I think National will offer Craig some electoral deal to get him over the line. National will help the Conservatives win a seat so its 2-3% vote is not wasted. Craig could bring with him 3-5 MPs, which could be the difference.

Is it impossible the conservatives make 5%? They got 2.8% last time with relatively little publicity (but lots of advertising). If it looks like they will make it over the line, they may pick up some support from those who were worried a vote for them would be wasted.

John Key has ruled out Winston Peters in the past – my feeling is he will probably do something similar again, early next year, but the decision is yet to be made. Key will, in my view, lay out who his preferred coalition partners are – he will list Peters and New Zealand First last – he may go the next step and tell Kiwis he won’t work with him. On principle – if Key is highly principled on Peters – he will stick to his previous stance and rule him out.

It will be interesting to see what he does.

Key was far from radical. He is a centrist that loves capitalism, but not pure capitalism. He understands when it doesn’t work and when it’s hurting people. He understands business and banking, and he is close to the country’s top business leaders and bank CEOs. They wish he was more right wing and aggressive on the business front. That he’s not shows he knows where the votes are.

But Key’s trick is this: He knows he must remain firmly in the centre of NZ life and politics to remain in office. He has done that pretty well, in my view. His opponents have consistently under-estimated him. He is much smarter than they give him credit for and he can come across as very ordinary at times.

The list of those who have under-estimated him is a very long one.

The good news is it looks like the economy is bouncing. This is the good part of the story that even Key’s opponents acknowledge, but usually in private.

Growth is expected to be 3.5 percent for the next two years. Some economists put it at four percent. Much of that is expected to come from Christchurch. Let’s hope it gets going sooner rather than later.

Unemployment is down to 6.2 percent. That is actually OK given the world’s collapse. Italy and Greece are on their knees and broke. Spain is the same. Australia and the US have nudged 10 percent unemployment.

Australia’s economic writers wax lyrical about the New Zealand economy and the management of it by Key and Bill English. In fact, more Kiwis are now heading home to NZ than leaving for Australia. The brain-drain trend has reversed.

And Duncan’s overall score:

So Key has had his challenges. Some of them have been monumental. He has, largely, negotiated them very well. He has made mistakes. He, at times, gets it wrong.

But he’s still high in the polls. Kiwis have largely trusted him to negotiate these tricky economic times.

I give him a 7.5 out of 10.

Your choice is between John Key and Bill English with a few rag-tag minor right wing parties – or David Cunliffe and Russel Norman – with perhaps Winston Peters in tow.

Who do you trust?

A good question.

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Kitteridge to head up SIS

November 12th, 2013 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today announced the appointment of Rebecca Kitteridge to the position of Director of Security, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

Ms Kitteridge will replace Dr Warren Tucker, who is retiring next year.

“Ms Kitteridge is a highly respected and professional public servant with experience in senior roles,” Mr Key says.

“She is currently Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council at the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (DPMC), and has served under four Prime Ministers and four Governors-General while at DPMC.

“Ms Kitteridge was also seconded to conduct a high profile compliance review of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) late last year.

This is an excellent appointment.

With the increasing focus on the intelligence agencies, public confidence is critical. Kitteridge’s background as a totally impartial Cabinet Secretary, but also as someone who is meticulous about following the law, due process, good procedure etc is just what the SIS needs.

The PM is obviously very determined that there be no more stuff ups of the Kim Dotcom variety.

Both the SIS and GCSB have tended to be headed up by those from a military or foreign affairs background. Now both are headed up by long-term career civil servants.

Also Kitteridge is the first woman to head up the SIS, and I suspect will be the youngest Director also by a considerable margin.

Slightly ironically, Kitteridge is going from one job where she can not talk publicly about most of her day to day work, to perhaps the one job where you can talk even less about what your day in the office was like. At least she’ll be used to it!

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Key and English on Q+A

November 11th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A Q+A interview with John Key and Bill English:

CORIN Do you ever have any big disagreements though on direction in terms of whether you’re going far enough to the right or whether you should be pushing harder on something?

JOHN I’d say no. One of the big advantages is that we’re both central-right, so I think we’re smart enough to work out that if we want an enduring policy, then we need to make change that we can take the public with us. And over the course of the five years, we’ve demonstrated that. So if you look at the Business Growth Agenda, you know, that’s our economic framework. That is 366 individual changes that we’re making. None of them we would, in isolation, argue is going to turn the dial, but in totality, they are turning the dial significantly in favour of NZ being a higher-growth, competitive economy.

CORIN Do both of you want to stay on right through next term if you win?

JOHN Yep.

I think there is no issue that they want a third term. I’m not sure if they get a third term, that the PM would seek a fourth term.

CORIN You two don’t have a Brown-Blair agreement when it comes to potential succession?

JOHN No. And the truth is that we’ve got a broad caucus, and there’s lots of people you could point to that actually could come through, depending on the timing. I think there’s a range of people, both on the front bench and people who are emerging.

CORIN Could I pick you up on that? So we’ve got Steven Joyce and Judith Collins. They’re both frontrunners. Have you got any preferences?

JOHN Uh, well, a) it probably almost certainly wouldn’t be our choice. If you’re talking about the leader, it wouldn’t be my choice, because I wouldn’t be part of the caucus. The caucus would be making that decision, and if they were doing a coup, then they wouldn’t be coming to consult me on it, so we’re not too worried about that.

I like how the PM just talks openly about the reality that incumbent leaders normally don’t get a say in their successors. However that does change if the leader leaves on their own timetable.

CORIN Prime Minister, what about you? If you didn’t get across the line, is that it for politics for you?

JOHN Well, I don’t have a plan B. In other words, what happens if we lose the election? I’m totally focused on winning the election. But I’ve been reasonably upfront with people, saying that, you know, eventually, if you lose an election, generally there’s a change of leader. If there’s a change of leader, I don’t think it’s actually healthy to get in the way of the next leader. And most prime ministers that have lost elections haven’t stayed around long, long-term. But in the end, I hope we win, and I hope we get to stay there, because it’s very much unfinished business.

I don’t think anyone expects the PM would stay around if he lost the election.

CORIN The election next year; are we looking at a November election, essentially?

JOHN Uh, not guaranteed. I mean, we’re certainly picking an election at the back end of the year. There’s no reason to go early, but we’ll just need to think about that window of when it would make perfect sense. There are issues that we have to consider. Australia hosting the G20 at the end of the year, bits and pieces like that. So we’ll just sort of think that through, but, look, it’s in that window, I think, of sort of September to November roughly, but we’ll make an announcement sometime next year.

The G20 is mid November so that might discourage a November election. However we do not normally attend the G20. Maybe we will get a special invite as Australia is hosting it?

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A political talk show with no politicians?

November 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Prime Minister won’t appear on Willie Jackson and John Tamihere’s radio show again this year as pressure mounts on their bosses to take action against them for their treatment of a young woman on air.

Labour leader David Cunliffe also confirmed he would decline an appearance if invited.

It caps off a mostly horror week for RadioLive parent company MediaWorks as several major advertisers withdrew from the station amid the furore, and the broadcaster lost some of its most popular US television shows. The furore shaded to a degree the work of TV3 in leading television coverage of the story.

John Key has appeared on the show on occasion but a spokeswoman said he would not do so again this year and no further appearances were scheduled.

Mr Key would continue with his regular interview slot on Marcus Lush’s breakfast programme.

Mr Cunliffe said he would not appear on the show “at the moment”, with some party members unhappy with Tamihere’s comments.

John Tamihere is a Labour Party member, former MP and Minister, and aspiring candidate. Cactus Kate points out in an open letter to Cunliffe the hypocrisy that she is deemed unsuitable for membership, yet Tamihere is. She writes:

I have never accepted there may be any defence or explanation to gang raping girls as young as 13 years old.  Girls that young cannot by law even give consent and Mr Tamihere as a lawyer should know that and he seems incapable of accepting this publicly without attempting to justify it or blaming the girls in some way.

Mr Tamihere is aiding discussion with his fan club of neanderthals, not of grown women but girls only young enough to be my niece and your daughter.  He entertained the thought they may be asking to be raped by a pack of sweaty, nose-ringed, want to be gangster ferals due to what they wear.  He invoked what  Miley Cyrus wears and commented on what is written on girls Facebook pages.  Every educated adult seems to understand apart from Tamihere and his radio partner that these girls have made allegations of intentional, violent and publicly humiliating pack rape which is an entirely different matter to mature adults having consensual group sex.

On the same show on Thursday Mr Tamihere suggested that a person challenging his views was imparting “middle class” values as if it explained away that girls from working class or poor backgrounds should just accept pack rape, underage sex and sexual assault from older boys and men as a normal activity in the suburbs he claims to be at the “coalface” and a Leader of.

I might have to wear the eventual rejection of my membership as a badge of some honour such is the reported rarity of the action.  In light of this however I expect some consistency and that you step in as a Leader before your more vocal and active female members demand it of you and remove Tamihere’s Labour membership completely before even entertaining he may stand for Labour in 2014.

Will anyone in Labour take action? Will Cunliffe?

Back to Radio Live, you now have a political talk show that no MP from National or Labour will go on. I expect no Green MP would either. So will any MP still go on the show with them? I can think of just one – Winston. Inquiring media should ask Winston what he thinks of what Willie and JT said, and whether he is still happy to go on their show.

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Key post politics

November 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

John Key, 52, and wife Bronagh, have made a pact over what happens when that day comes. Theirs will be a life lived in the slow lane – or slower, at least.

Life after politics will probably involve some commercial work, a board chairmanship or two and even some “ex-prime ministerial things”, said Key.

But he won’t be doing a Helen Clark and chasing a top United Nations job. He has been living the dream for the past few decades – a high-powered investment banking career, then a “dream run” in politics – he has been prime minister for almost half the time he has been in Parliament. The sacrifices have all been Bronagh’s, he insists.

When it’s all over “she doesn’t want me taking a really high-powered, seven days a week job”.

But nor has Bronagh – who was in her 30s when he entered Parliament and celebrates her 50th birthday next week – ever put a time limit on this part of their lives, he said.

There’s a video interview at the link which is a good watch. It is obvious that John Key doesn’t measure his success or happiness based on how long he will be in power for.

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