After new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that he hoped to emulate the political style of John Key, the Australian Financial review asked me to do an opinion piece on how Key has been successful, in contrast to Abbott and others. It was published yesterday. You can read it here or it is embedded below.
Prime Minister John Key broke no rules in deleting text messages, the guardian of the country’s public records says.
Chief Archivist Marilyn Little has published a review of Key’s record keeping. She began the probe in November after Key revealed he binned texts from Dirty Politics blogger Cameron Slater.
Little says Key received poor advice from officials. But his practice of routinely deleting messages for “security purposes” is “pragmatic” and unlikely to break laws surrounding public records.
She added: “The Prime Minister’s current approach does not indicate any wilful or negligent disposal of records without authority.”
Advice and support offered to Key from Archives NZ, Ministerial and Secretariat Services and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was “inadequate” and a section of the law detailing with recording keeping is “confusing.”
But Little did not directly address the destroyed messages between Key and Slater.
She recommends text messages to and from ministers in their “official capacity” should be treated as a public record. If it is “of short term value” then can be disposed of.
It was always farcical to suggest that a Minister must keep every text message they send or receive, and have them archived. Sure if you negotiate a free trade agreement by text message, then that should be a public record, but most texts will not be.
But if the contents need action or are of “long-term” value then it must be retained and transferred to support staff for archiving.
Key told Little he received a large volume of messages and the “vast bulk” were administrative. “Occasionally I may ask officials for information which is then provided to me usually in the form of an email or briefing note – the content of which is retained for the public record. I do not use a private cellphone.”
Green party co-leader James Shaw asked for the review, questioning if Key was in breach of the Public Records Act.
Shaw did more than question it. He said:
“The text messages are a public record under s4 of the Public Records Act; and disposal of these texts messages is contrary to s18.
So he was wrong.
“The laws are there to protect our democracy.
“The National Government has been eroding our democracy and this needs to stop.
Oh God, the hysteria.
Audrey Young reports:
After it was confirmed late last night that Malcolm Turnbull would be the new Prime Minister of Australia, John Key said something he could only have hoped was true.
“I am confident our close and critical relationship with Australia will continue unchecked with the change of Prime Minister.”
By the end of Turnbull’s first press conference as leader, Key could be genuinely confident. New Zealand had a leader whose style should be emulated, Turnbull was saying. You have to be able to bring people with you by respecting their intelligence in the way you explain things. “Let me point to just one international leader – John Key, for example”
Key had been able to achieve significant economic reforms by doing just that: “By explaining complex issues and then making the case for them.”
Key managed to win the 2011 election despite a policy of partial asset sales. That is because he spent a year making the case for them. They were never popular, but they were accepted – people understood why the Government was doing them – even if they disagreed.
Working class lawyer Micky Savage writes at The Standard:
Back then Rugby was king in New Zealand. All Blacks were deities and were instantly recognisable. Test matches were waited with anticipation for weeks in advance. The whole country used to shut down while test matches were being played. And provincial and club rugby was watched by huge numbers.
Now things are different. More kids play soccer than Rugby. The game is highly professionalised and commercialised and the All Blacks suck huge resources out of the game.
They suck resources? I’d suggest it is the money the All Blacks and Super teams make that allows the NZRFU to fund other levels of the game. But I’m sure Mr Savage knows best.
Club rugby, once the backbone of the game, is now nothing more than a talent spotting opportunity. Provincial rugby is nothing more than Sky TV filler. And All Black games can only be seen if you have large amounts of money to buy a ticket or can afford a Sky TV subscription. Watching the All Blacks is no longer a working class pursuit and is more entertainment for the wealthy.
Thanks to ACT and other like minded MPs, working class fans of the All Blacks can watch the games at their local pubs.
Things have also changed for National. Instead of keeping politics out of sport they are now happy to politicise the All Blacks on every possible occasion. Yesterday’s announcement of the All Black team for this year’s world cup is a classic example. Parliament was opened up at the request of the Rugby Union. Ministers were there en masse seeking every opportunity to take selfies with All Blacks. And John Key was obviously in his element.
Mr Savage overlooks that Labour MPs were there also, and in fact Andrew Little was invited to speak.
John Key’s treatment of the All Blacks is as cynical and calculating as Rob Muldoon’s treatment of the All Blacks in 1981.
Yes turning up to rugby games and events is much the same as the Springbok Tour.
And we live in a nation where urgent legislation can be passed so that at 5 am in the morning people can drink beer in pubs while watching rugby. And pubs could be open continuously for 69 hours.
A law backed by all but six Labour MPs. And good on them for doing so.
Peter Hartcher, the SMH Poitical Editor, writes:
There was no due process on gay marriage. Abbott did not consult his Cabinet, rode roughshod over the Liberal party room’s sensibilities, rushed to a Coalition room discussion, and led the party to confused non-decisions on future process.
None of this mattered to Abbott. Why? Because all he wanted was to kill any prospect that same-sex marriage would come to a free vote on the floor of the Parliament.
That done, to hell with the rest of it. That’s why, two days later, his Cabinet ministers were out in public arguing with each other on referendum versus plebiscites, George Brandis lecturing Scott Morrison, conducting government by Sky News.
Did it seem odd that a Prime Minister would corral his party to block same-sex marriage, putting the Government on the opposite side of two-thirds of the electorate?
It is odd for a Prime Minister who wants to win an election to wilfully alienate most of the country.
But winning the election is a second-order issue for Abbott. His first priority is surviving long enough to even make it to election day.
The whole point of Abbott’s gay marriage gambit was to appease the conservative side of his caucus.
He sees this as vital to his survival as leader.
Remember that the February spill motion was moved by two of the party’s right-wing conservatives.
The outcome on gay marriage this week may drive much of the public to despair, but it satisfies Abbott’s right and protects his flank. That’s the hard calculus that drove the process.
This means that the next spill effort against Abbott won’t come from the right. If it comes, it’ll have to be from the left of the Liberal caucus.
The last thing the Liberal Party should do is drag this out until after the next election. Either allow a conscience vote in Parliament, or call a referendum before the next election.
When Abbott introduced John Key at a business lunch during that trans-Tasman bonding a year and a half ago, he quipped that he realised some of the Australians in the room would prefer John Key to be prime minister of Australia instead of himself.
He got polite laughs but it was true.
People are voting with their feet.
For the first time in 30 years, the relentless flow of Kiwis to settle in Australia has stopped. And started to flow the other way.
“Good government” doesn’t have to be a joke.
I’ve not been in favour of joining NZ and Australia together, but John Key as Prime Minister of Australasia has a nice ring to it
John Key did a video on why he thinks we should change the flag, and rebutting some of the arguments against.
He didn’t do a media release. He didn’t do a speech on it. He merely stuck the video on his facebook page.
It’s had 489,000 direct views of the video, and 1.24 million people have seen the post as it has been shared by 6,206 people to their facebook followers.
That’s a bigger audience that either of the 6 pm TV news bulletins.
A great example of the power of social media. Not only have hundreds of thousands viewed it, but this is not a 30 second soundbite. Half a million people viewed a seven minute long video because they are interested in the issue.
The SST had a front page lead about how the PM had reduced a young girl to tears because he had dismissed her idea of extending Maori Language Week to a Maori Language Month as boring.
The story was based on second hand testimony from another student (who seems to be an activist on Maori language issues) and had no verification from anyone at all.
Well I’ve been sent a copy of this article from a local newspaper, whose reporter was actually in the room! The key quote:
I was there, right in front covering the event for The Post Newspaper, and that’s not what I heard or was led to believe in any way,
The SST could have verified the claim with the journalist there. They decided not to, and smear the PM with an unsubstantiated story.
He also says:
When I read the headlines that Mr Key said “Maori Language Month was boring” I could not help but wonder if I had been to the same assembly.
And in case you think it is just the reporter,he spoke to a number of students who were there and they mostly agreed with the reporter that Key did not say what was claimed.
What this reporter has done is proper journalism. What the SST is not.
The PM announced at the National Party conference five changes to migration policy. They are:
- Currently, skilled migrants with a job offer get 10 extra points if that job is outside Auckland, and those points count towards the 100 they require. From 1 November, they will treble that, and give them 30 extra points.
- Last year launched an Entrepreneur Work Visa, targeting migrants who offer high-level business experience, capital and international connections. Currently, people applying for this visa get 20 extra points if they set up a business outside Auckland, and that counts towards the 120 they require. From 1 November, we will double that to 40 extra points.
- From 1 November employers can find out faster whether New Zealanders are available to fill a particular vacancy, before they lodge a visa application with Immigration New Zealand by being able to contact Work and Income directly to check availability.
- The Government intends to provide a pathway to residence for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.
- Government will consider a new global impact visa targeted at young, highly-talented and successful technology entrepreneurs and start-up teams, who want to be based in New Zealand, employ talented Kiwis and reach across the globe.
All sounds sensible to me.
Talking of the conference I was disappointed there were so few protesters there. I think I recognised around half of them personally!
Prime Minister John Key has signalled the Government may tighten rules on foreigners buying houses if a new register shows a scale the public is unhappy with.
In his first day back at work since Labour released data showing a large proportion of house sales in Auckland in early 2015 were to buyers with Chinese sounding names, Key conceded that the public wanted to know the scale of foreign buying. …
“We’ve been a pretty pragmatic government. If we think we need to take steps to address an issue which we see coming of great concern, we’re prepared to look at it.”
Under proposed legislation the Government will begin to collect the residential tax status of buyers as a proxy for how many houses are being sold to foreigners.
So rather than judge off people’s surnames, the Government will collect much more reliable data. And this decision was announced months ago – so Labour’s stunt was an unnecessary own goal.
Key said information on buyers from markets from Britain and Australia would be “a bit polluted by New Zealanders who live over there”, whereas the “vast bulk” of buyers from mainland China were unlikely to be New Zealanders.
So this data won’t be perfect, but it will be reasonably robust.
Key said that he believed the scale of the issue would not be on the level which Labour appeared to suggest, but if it were he would consider it “a problem”, he told reporters.
“If you’re asking me if 30 per cent of all sales of residential property in New Zealand was to foreigners, would I think that’s much bigger than I expected and be a problem, I’d say ‘yes’.
“Because around New Zealand I’d be amazed if that was the case. Even in Auckland I’d be absolutely staggered if that was the case, but let’s wait and see the data.”
I’m looking forward to seeing the data.
He was dismissive of Labour’s research, based on personal examples.
“My next door neighbour’s Mark Ching. I look more Chinese than he does, but according to Labour, he’s a problem,” Key said.
“My son’s Max Tim Key, and he’s born in Singapore. If you saw that name on a piece of paper and I wasn’t prime minister, you’d assume he was Asian.”
I wonder what Labour’s Bayesian analysis says about whether someone named Key is Chinese?
The Herald reports:
When most people find their missing phone, it’s followed by a vow not to lose it again.
Prime Minister John Key, on the other hand, quickly bins his.
Mr Key has revealed that he gets rid of his mobile phone every few months for security reasons.
Those precautions are prudent not paranoid, an expert in technology and security says, as phones can be successfully tampered with in only a few moments.
The Prime Minister’s admission follows revelations that other world leaders had their phones accessed, and that US President Barack Obama and others use strict security measures.
While Mr Key’s phone has special security measures on it, he does not assume his conversations are private.
“I kind of work on the principle that I will be [listened to] at some point,” Mr Key said on More FM yesterday.
“If I was having a conversation with my national security advisers … I would never have a mobile phone in the room I’m in … because you can use it as a listening device, whether it is on or not.”
Left behind or not, the phone will be replaced every few months.
“If I left it in a hotel room by mistake, which I have done on a few occasions, I would just throw it out [after getting it back],” Mr Key said.
Barry Brailey, chairman of the NZ Internet Task Force, a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the country’s cyber security, said that was prudent.
“There is commercially available spyware-type stuff for handsets. If you can get physical access to the handset you can probably install that in less than three minutes.”
We know there are people in the country that will hack communications of their political opponents, so this is no surprise. Let alone, any attempts by non NZers.
The Herald reports:
The Prime Minister says he would probably support a euthanasia law change of the type Lecretia Seales wanted. …
John Key said this morning MPs would have to treat any proposed euthanasia law as “a conscience issue” but it was inevitable the topic would re-emerge in Parliament.
“I personally would probably support legislation aimed in the way Lecretia wanted it,” Mr Key said on TV One’s Breakfast this morning.
He said everyone had a “slightly different view” on the possible wording or interpretation of euthanasia laws but he expected several MPs to propose bills and he did not believe the Government needed to put the topic on its agenda.
“It will eventually get debated again.”
It would be nice to have a Government bill, as that can get a law change considered quicker in most cases. However the advantage of a members’ bill is that they don’t have to jostle for position with other bills on the Government’s order paper. The disadvantage of a members’ bill is you have to wait for it to win in the ballot.
The last bill failed by just two votes at its first reading. And that is possibly because the MP in charge was not a great parliamentary tactician. I’ve yet to start counting votes in this Parliament, but I have looked at how MPs still here voted in 2003.
For – Cunliffe, Dyson, Goff, Key, McCully, Paraone, Peters, Turei, Williamson (9)
Against – Brownlee, Carter, Collins, Cosgrove, Dunne, King, Mahuta, Mallard, Mark, O’Connor, Parker, Smith, Tisch, English (14)
Based on public statements, Collins is in favour (subject to wording) and I suspect King and Mallard may be persuadable also.
But the key will be 98 MPs since 2003.
The Herald reports:
Prime Minister John Key went in to bat for his cat Moonbeam after Conservation Minister Maggie Barry’s call to put down stray cats and limit pet cats to one or two per household.
Ms Barry proposed the limit while launching a $11.2 million fund for kiwi conservation at the Zealandia bird sanctuary. She said the SPCA policy of neutering and releasing stray cats was “one of the most foolish and counterproductive techniques and practices I have ever heard”.
“I would like the SPCA to stop … because if you capture a cat, spay it and release it, often what happens is they find a little supermarket for cats, which are the bird sanctuaries.”
She said that instead, strays should be put down or rehomed as pets.
Mr Key was quick to knock back her proposals, saying they were her personal views, rather than the Government’s.
“Some people are going to have lots of cats and some people are going to have few.
The Government isn’t going to limit the number of cats people can own.”
He said he would nonetheless advise Moonbeam to steer clear of the SPCA if it did decide to go ahead with Ms Barry’s instructions.
When the PM says he’d want his cat to avoid the SPCA, if a Minister’s proposal is accepted, well that’s a pretty good sign it isn’t going anywhere!
The Herald reports:
The Prime Minister has been accused of lying about housing price increases under Labour – but figures support his often-repeated claim.
John Key was called a liar after an exchange with Labour leader Andrew Little in Question Time Tuesday.
Mr Little asked what effect the Government’s new rules on taxing capital gain on residential properties would have on the Auckland housing market.
In response, Mr Key repeated a claim he has made in recent weeks – that house prices doubled under the previous Labour Government.
That prompted Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford to tweet that the Prime Minister was repeating the lie that house prices went up more under Labour than under his own Government.
So what is the truth?
Mr Twyford referred to statistics from the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) that showed its Auckland housing price index rose by 77 per cent during the Helen Clark Labour Government, and 87 per cent under the current National Government.
But another data set also released by REINZ – median national sale prices – does support the Prime Minister’s statement.
Under Labour, the national median price rose from $172,000 in November 1999 to $337,500 in November 2008, a 96 per cent increase.
The national median price has since gone up another 35 per cent under National to $455,000.
So median price for NZ doubled under Labour, compared to 35% under National.
Twyford tries to wriggle out of his claim by saying:
Mr Twyford told the Herald that he stood by his criticism.
The Prime Minister was being deliberately misleading by referring to nationwide prices in responding to questions about Auckland prices, without saying he was using nationwide figures, Mr Twyford said.
Twyford is wrong – again. Let’s look at Hansard:
Interestingly enough, if you look at the information by the Real Estate Institute, figures across New Zealand actually show that although Auckland house prices are up, the rest of the country is very mixed; some are actually down. And, interestingly enough, if you look at the equivalent period of time under the last Labour Government, house prices doubled. Under National they have gone up nationally by 35 percent.
Twyford should apologise. And to remove doubt, Key in a previous question used a different figure in reference to Auckland prices:
I know that Labour members do not like it, but house prices doubled under their watch. Actually, Auckland house prices went up by 79 percent under the previous Labour Government.
So John Key clearly linked to doubling of house prices to being nation-wide and used the 79% figure correctly for Auckland house prices under Labour.
Twyford will of course refuse to apologise.
The Daily Mail reports:
When Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn split over a week ago, the Olympic skiier posted on Facebook the explanation that ‘both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart.’
Daily Mail Online can now exclusively reveal that during one of those ‘times apart’ Tiger cheated on Lindsey – with a ‘faceless, nameless woman’, a friend reveals.
Who is surprised? He cheated on his wife with over a dozen women. His 45 day therapy programme doesn’t seem to done the job!
But the news does remind me of this interview John Key did in 2008:
OH: Who are your heroes and role models?
JK: Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods.
Heh, with hindsight perhaps not the best two choices. Of course he was referring to their success in the two areas he is passionate about – politics and golf.
The Herald reports:
The private prosecution against John Key over his ponytail-pulling foundered today after a judge ruled there was no evidence to get an assault charge into court.
This is not surprising.
There are many examples of Key Derangement Syndrome, but you don’t normally see them from political scientists who are touted as neutral political commentators.
I have no problem with any person in NZ being as vehement against John Key as they want. That is their right. But when they do, it does raise the question of whether they can put their visceral distaste to one side, when commenting.
Today’s example is the submission on the flag bill by Dr Jon Johannson. It is full of vitriol about John Key, and endless swipes at him. It’s the sort of submission you normally see from a hard core activist, not a political scientist. Some extracts:
I raise with the committee for its consideration, also, whether it is a good precedent for a government to launch a binding referendum on a subject that is important mostly to only one individual, the Prime Minister
So swipe no 1.
It also creates a contradictory situation where the governing party is willing to spend $26 million of taxpayers’ money on two referendums not sought by the public, and, in addition, however much more that will be spent on advertising as part of an attempt to manipulate voters towards its leader’s preferred fern design for the flag
Swipe No 2.
The twin referendum process to change the New Zealand flag, which was raised by only one person, the Prime Minister
It was an announced policy before the 2014 election. The Government got re-elected on the basis of having said there will be a referendum.
Anyway Swipe 3.
He cannot have it both ways. Nor is he our King.
Yes, you seriously have a leading political academic labeling the PM as having King like delusions.
The New Zealand Flag Referendum Bill sets this prospect back, not forward, as the Prime Minister seems acutely aware of given his strong defence of New Zealand as an constitutional monarchy, his now seven year odyssey of fawning over the monarchy in a fashion not seen in a New Zealand Prime Minister since Sid Holland in the 1950s
Swipe 5. Key is now a fawner of the monarchy.
Given the factors raised above there is nevertheless a precedent that would satisfy the Prime Minister’s need for a legacy while also resolving the issues raised in this submission. Sir Robert Muldoon organised a knighthood for himself during his third term. John Key could save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and satisfy his own ambitions if he chose, instead, to simply follow his predecessor’s example.
As I said Dr Johansson has every right to rant against John Key, call him names, insult him, say he thinks he is a King, and call him a fawning toady to the Royal Family. But we have the right to take that into account when evaluating what he says publicly on politics.
I’m someone of very strong views on political issues. But I’ve never done a submission to a parliamentary committee that is so nasty and vehement against a politician, and never would. It reads more like an angry blog post, than a considered parliamentary submission.
— Laila Harré (@lailaharre) April 23, 2015
Laila Harre basically compares the Prime Minister to Rolf Harris.
This is a new low for sufferers from Key Derangement Syndrome – a disease for which no cure has yet been discovered.
But this isn’t some anonymous troll on a blog or Twitter. This is from the (former) leader of a political party.
We’ve yet to hear Laila’s views on political figures who pressure staff to have tennis balls smashed into their bodies at high speed. Oh wait, she was working for him and on his payroll, so that is fine.
There is no one in NZ saying what the PM did was fine. But as Rob Hosking noted:
I marvel Not for first time, Key’s biggest asset is the lack of sense of proportion of his opponents.
UPDATE: After defending her tweet and claiming it was justified, she has now deleted it.
The Daily Blog has a story from an anonymous waitress who details interactions with John Key at a cafe where he pulled on her hair as a sort of joke and caused her distress by doing it on a regular basis.
On the assumption that the story is correct, he obviously totally misread the situation, and he caused distress to someone. He eventually realised it, when he apologised with a couple of bottles of wine.
I think he would be stunned to realise how upsetting it was for the person concerned, but regardless you should be able to read a situation better than it appears he did.
This will of course get media attention. If the story is correct, then he should apologise for causing distress to her. I’m sure it was inadvertent and he thought it was a funny game between them. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.
If you speak to staff that work for him, they all say he is one of the best bosses they have ever worked for. Generally those who interact with him only have favourable things to say about him. But again in this case (assuming the story is correct) he appears to have seriously misjudged how what he saw as mucking around, was received, and he failed to pick up on the discomfort caused.
Arthur Taylor’s electoral petition for Helensville has been struck down by the courts, as they has found he has not standing to bring a petition. This is not a huge surprise.
The court ruling is below.
Miranda Devine writes in the Daily Telegraph:
The Kiwis are killing it.
The New Zealand dollar is set to hit parity with ours, for the first time in 30 years.
Its economy is growing 20 per cent faster. Its GDP per capita is rising while ours is falling.
Its competitiveness rankings have outstripped ours. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent compared with our 6.3 per cent, and that’s with a higher participation rate.
The NZ budget is heading towards a surplus while ours spirals further into deficit.
NZ has challenges, and the global economy is still fragile, but we are better positioned than most.
In a world lacking impressive leadership, Prime Minister John Key and his finance minister Bill English are shining lights, running the most successful and stable conservative government in the world.
Angela Merkel might disagree, but there is a reason Key was elected Chairman of the IDU.
Through lunches at the homes of mutual friends, I have come to know Key and his wife Bronagh a little and, over the years, have watched him become more energised and enthusiastic about the challenges of government.
Sunny-natured and refreshingly normal, he presents a new model of reassuring, decisive centre-right political leadership tailor-made for the 24/7 media demand for authenticity.
He shows that canny leaders who are trusted can get away with just about anything.
For instance, Key increased the GST in NZ to 15 per cent without a blip to his popularity. He did it by reducing the top marginal rate of tax to 33 per cent — compared with Australia’s uncompetitive 49 per cent — and he and English discussed their “tax switch” for 18 months beforehand.
Key’s style is not to spring unpleasant surprises after an election and exude competence by ensuring he is able to implement the policies he has promised.
And while some of those policies may be controversial (such as Sky City) they were publicised and debated before the 2011 and 2014 elections. The Opposition spend much of their time demanding Key break his word and not implement his election policies.
Key’s success is even more remarkable considering he had to weather a GFC-induced recession, and the $40 billion cost of rebuilding Christchurch after its 2011 earthquake.
His style has been dubbed “incremental radicalism”. But he is much more than an economic rationalist appealing to base self-interest. Like a Reagan or Thatcher, he is animated by a moral vision of an egalitarian nation of stable families where poor children like him can aspire to greatness though hard work.
Welfare is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
A pre-election interview with four political editors as done at The Pantograph Punch. All quite interesting, and one thing I wanted to highlight in the interview with Brent Edwards:
How do you rate the access to politicians in New Zealand?
In New Zealand in the main we have great access to politicians. If you think of the Prime Minister during a sitting week, he has a post-Cabinet news conference on a Monday which is for anywhere up to half an hour or more. We can then grab him on his way to his caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, on the way to Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, we can grab him again on Wednesday afternoon on the way to Parliament, and the rest of the time when he’s out around the country you probably have three or four stand-ups.
So that is a total of seven or eight media conferences or stand ups a week. And our stand ups involve questions and answers not just photo ops.
It is a good thing our head of government is so accessible to the media, and through them the public. I doubt there are many other countries which would have the same.
In the US Barack Obama averages just 20 press conferences a year. On top of that around 26 short q+a. Compare that the NZ where it is around 46 press conferences and 300 or so media standups.
In the UK there appear to be seven to nine media conferences or standups a month.
After requests from the media (and an inadvertent promise by Bill English), the Government now puts up transcripts of the weekly press conference held on Mondays by the Prime Minister.
Quite interesting, and you see how long some of them go on for.
Prime Minister John Key has sent a shot across Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler’s bows, effectively warning him not to keep interest rates unjustifiably high as inflation heads lower.
But Key stopped short of calling for an interest rate cut at the bank’s monetary policy review on Thursday.
He noted that while the bank had flexibility it should set monetary policy so that inflation returned to the midpoint of its 1 per cent to 3 per cent target band. …
Key said oil prices were coming down, the exchange rate was still reasonably strong and imported inflation appeared low. In light of that “it’s not an option for the bank to raise interest rates”.
That’s not a decision for the PM. While he is correct that there is no reason for interest rates to go up, he is the PM – not a financial commentator. It is a bad look to have the PM state that something is not an option for the Reserve Bank, because it can look like pressure on them to do as the Government wants.
From the PM’s ministerial statement to Parliament:
Last November I gave a national security speech which outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL.
This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.
ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too.
It is well-funded and highly-skilled at using the internet to recruit.
Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.
In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.
And we’ve seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways.
ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group.
The coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Panam, Singapore, Sweden and Spain.
New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values.
We stand up for what’s right.
We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.
We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened.
We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it.
We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.
It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against ISIL.
The Iraqi government has requested support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.
We have been clear that we cannot, and should not, fight Iraqis’ battles for them – and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to.
Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so they can fight ISIL themselves.
I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi Security Forces alongside our longstanding partner Australia, in Iraq.
Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi Security Forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.
Mr Speaker, the Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL.
No surprise. It’s at the lower end of what we could do.
The deployment will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum two-year period.
I’m glad it isn’t open ended.
We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term.
Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message.
That will take time.
As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause and we are currently examining options to provide more help.
We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq.
As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and our military deployment, as well as assess how we can support better governance in Iraq.
We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new Ambassador for Counter Terrorism.
Many other countries have done this.
We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris and Ottawa have underscored.
To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises that threat, I say this: the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that.
I know there is already risk.
New Zealanders do too, because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.
Mr Speaker, the Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL.
We are prepared to step up to help.
New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.
In return we expect that the Iraqi government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect.
Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.
I would call it the least bad decision. There are risks. But the greater risk is leaving ISIL unchecked with their ambition to be a global caliphate. They are not terrorist. They are 7th century fundamentalists who wish to have the world live under their 7th century religious doctrine.
From Hansard yesterday:
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, especially that one when I said yesterday that “There’s no dye in these locks, baby.”
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, how come the curtains don’t match the carpet? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member managed to hear it, I will—
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I take offence that the member is telling New Zealand he has seen my carpet.
Good to see Winston focusing again on the big issues.