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.
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.Tags: John Key, Rodney Hide
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.Tags: John Key
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.
McKinsey Education (2009). Shaping the Future: How Good Education Systems Can Become Great in the Decade Ahead (2009). Report on the International Education Roundtable, July 2009, Singapore. http://www.mckinsey.com/locations/southeastasia/knowledge/Education_Roundtable.pdf
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.Tags: Education, John Key, National
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:
- ACT/United Future
- Maori Party
- 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.Tags: John Key
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.Tags: Barack Obama, Dominion Post, editorials, John Key
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.
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.Tags: Barack Obama, John Key, Max Key
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 opTags: cancer, John Key
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.Tags: John Key
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.Tags: Duncan Garner, John Key
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!Tags: John Key, Rebecca Kitteridge, SIS
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?
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?Tags: Bill English, John Key, Q&A
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.Tags: Cactus Kate, David Cunliffe, John Key, John Tamihere, Radio Live, Willie Jackson
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.Tags: John Key
Two interesting articles in the Herald. The first:
Prime Minister John Key has admitted he had to be persuaded to back off his bid to press the Reserve Bank into exempting first-home buyers from the banks’ new rules on loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) by Finance Minister Bill English.
Mr Key went into bat very publicly for an exemption for first-home buyers in June, during the bank’s consultation period on LVRs, which limit low-deposit or no-deposit mortgages by retail banks.
At the time he said he didn’t want the LVR to work for a “bunch of rich people and lock out a whole lot of first-home buyers.”
But in a joint interview with Mr English this week – marking five years in power for the National-led Government – he indicated that Mr English thought taking on the independent bank would be more trouble than it was worth.
“So I took a step back from that and said ‘yeah, okay, well fine’. That’s the way it goes.”
There is a line between advocating and directing. It is important the Reserve Bank is independent. Sadly Labour proposes ending that independence.
Mr Key also admitted he had been very reluctant at first to raise GST in 2010 but was persuaded fairly quickly about its merits.
“I’d be the first to admit I was a bit nervous about raising GST thinking can you actually politically sell all of that,” he said.
“Actually after we did all the modelling and we worked on it together, we were absolutely convinced it was fair and would actually work and it would deliver the sort of policy outcomes we wanted. And actually it’s definitely delivering results for the economy.”
The pair said they did not have arguments or rows.
Mr Key said the measure of any decent relationship was that you worked your way through all sorts of issues and respected each other’s views.
They are a hugely effective team.
Mr English made much of what he described as Mr Key’s instinctive ability to communicate with the public and maintain its support, and knowing how to set boundaries in terms of policy constraints.
They cited the example of state tenants’ entitlements.
Mr Key said successive Ministers of Housing and Housing officials had wanted the income that any state tenant received from boarders to be received to be counted as income in terms of calculating entitlements.
“But my view is well that would be seen as a step too far for large families or families that are trying really hard to make ends meet.
“And in the end if they are prepared to go the extra mile of having someone live in their home and cook them a meal, they are just good New Zealanders trying to get ahead.
“It’s like the carparking [dumped fringe benefit tax] issue.
“In the perfection of the IRD officials, we should have carried on with putting an FBT on those carparks – but that’s how you lose the public,” he said.
Mr Key also indicated that he had put constraints on labour market reforms.
You don’t get to implement much policy in Opposition. You fight the good fight on issues worth it such as the GST tax trade-off and the partial asset sales, but why take a hit on relatively minor issues such as FBT on car parks. No one will thank you in 20 years time for that one.
A second article looks at the John and Bill team:
The lingering question is how this pairing has avoided the pitfalls which have seen governments paralysed when the two pockets of power have stopped trusting one another and started undermining one another.
Told, the Herald wants to focus on their partnership before and after National was returned to power in 2008, Key turns and looks at English and exclaims “Okay, love” and laughs. English replies in typically droll fashion: “As a loyal deputy, I can assure you, it is not a partnership.” He means not that sort of partnership.
The humour, however, has an edge which leaves the listener wondering just how well the two men actually get along.
Very well, because they both understand which job they have, and Bill is not seeking a promotion (and in fact has ruled out ever standing for the leadership).
English’s tentacles certainly extend way beyond the confines of his finance portfolio. He was the one pushing hard for meaningful welfare reform. He has basically overseen the big changes in the housing of the poor. He keeps a watching brief on the public service and its adoption of new methods of delivering services. Given the almost-universal involvement of the Treasury in any reform, however, it is par for the course that the finance minister is involved.
Bill is constantly thinking about how to improve the performance of the Government as a whole. He has dozens of little pet projects on the go at any times ranging from championing open data to some funds for small local councils to do anti-truancy measures.
Bill on John:
• “(John) has more ideas than we know how to handle. My framework is a bit more conventional so I spend a lot of time just dealing with issues in a reasonably predictable way but the PM is always stretching the boundaries.”
• “He’s endlessly capable of everything, I assure you – catching fish, cooking pasta, making up policy, being friends with the Queen. There is nothing this man can’t do.”
John on Bill:
• “They are quite complementary skills. I do a lot of going around the country opening things and cutting ribbons and being the kind of face of the party that’s interacting with the public. And Bill is doing a lot of the long term thinking, heavy-lifting and policy design, all the things that involve ministers … I’m kind of the retail face.”
I wonder how David Cunliffe and Russel Norman or David Parker will work together, if they become Government.Tags: Bill English, John Key
Audrey Young reports:
Labour says it will reduce the dominance of overseas-owned insurers, keep profits in New Zealand, and bring competition, flexibility and choice to New Zealanders.
Cunliffe implied that National’s opposition to the policy is because it received big donations from the insurance industry in 2005 and attempted to table the Hollow Men documentary on the Nicky Hager book.
Please tell me you are joking? Did the Labour Leader really claim that National’s policy in 2013 is influenced by some donations made in 2005? That’s just desperate.
Finance Minister Bill English said the idea of a bank taking on more insurance risk “is about the dumbest proposal that could possibly be made in the light of events following the global financial crisis.”
“We have already got the bill for $7 billion of Earthquake Commission risk. Why would we take on more?”
It was glorious day outside but English was having none of that. “Having low-income people working in the rain, paying their PAYE and underwriting financial risk is as dumb an idea was you can have in the 2020s.”
KiwiAssure, if it came to pass, would also be New Zealand 97th insurance company.
The other 96 are not good enough?
Key responded on KiwiBank. Yes it was a good little business.
“I might point out though this it has taken $860 million of taxpayers’ money and it has never paid a dividend in 10 years.”
It’s arguable that KiwiBank doesn’t even cover the cost of capital, and is effectively subsidized by the taxpayer.
He challenged Cunliffe to name another bank operating in New Zealand that had an insurance company, and offered insurance on the same property they were lending on.
“They do not do that.”
Cunliffe: “Is he aware that ASB Bank own Tower Insurance? If he is, why is he asking such a stupid question.”
Within minutes of Cunliffe’s comment, National’s research unit – or perhaps a few friends in the insurance industry – had got the message to Key that Cunliffe was wrong.
ASB did not own Tower. They sent the list of owners. Key tried to read through the list.
That’s a big fail.
Eventually Labour’s deputy, David Parker, and possibly the source of his leader’s error, did the honourable thing and acknowledged the error by asking Key: “Has he received any advice that ASB in fact own Sovereign Assurance?”
Key: “Yes it does own Sovereign and let us get to the better bit…Sovereign provides life insurance, and the way [Cunliffe] is going, he will need life insurance.”
I don’t think Labour are proposing a state owned insurer to provide life insurance. It is obviously targeted at property and contents insurance, the idea of having a bank own a property insurance company is a great way to have it go bankrupt.
Tags: David Cunliffe, John Key, KiwiAssure
Tracy Watkins gives five reasons for why National is still polling in the mid to high 40s after five years in office.
- John Key
- Steering a course through the global financial crisis
- Softly, softly government
- Tragedy and disaster
- Raising the bar for ministerial performance
With the second point, Watkins notes:
Key made a point of highlighting National’s determination not to slash and burn in response to the global financial crisis and the massive debt burden that welcomed it into office.
Previous National governments would have worn the scorched-earth label as a badge of honour, and Key’s government came under pressure from some quarters to hack into government spending under cover of the crisis. That National resisted doing so – and even increased spending on welfare initiatives at the height of the GFC – has earned Key a reservoir of goodwill with voters and neutralised Labour’s attacks on him as a Right-wing wolf in sheep’s clothing.
National is on track to get the books back into surplus, without “slash and burn”. The challenge when we get back into surpluses is to have a balanced policy where some of the surplus goes on debt reduction, some on extra spending and some on tax reductions. I believe NZers support a balanced approach. Labour only does tax reductions at the point of a gun – they believes surpluses mean just spend as much extra money as possible.
Key is known to keep his ministers on their toes by putting them through yearly performance appraisal reviews and laying out his expectations during individual chats at the start of each year.
I’m not certain of the timing, but it could be more frequent than annually. But he certainly does take a CEO approach to the Government, and regularly gives feedback on where things are going well and not so well.
He shocked many when he dumped Cabinet ministers Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson at the start of this year for under-performance, an unheard-of occurrence.
And there may be another reshuffle next year. Not because any Ministers need to go, but because it is important to rejuvenate the team.Tags: John Key, National
David Cunliffe would have you think John Key is a hated neo-lib who would sell his own mother. But a fair few Christchurch people seem to disagree. Stuff reports:
Shoppers in central Christchurch gave Prime Minister John Key a rock-star-like welcome when he visited the Palms Shopping Centre this morning.
Key, who was in town to launch the National’s Party’s Christchurch East by-election campaign with its candidate, Matthew Doocey, was mobbed by shoppers as the pair walked through the shopping centre.
Key posed for dozens of photographs and even filmed an impromptu video on an iPhone for the Whanau School Community’s student attendance class which is graduating soon.
He mingled with mothers and their children, staff from nearby retailers and barely made it past the first five shops in one wing in 30 minutes – such was his popularity.
The shopping centre is in Shirley, which isn’t like Fendalton. The average income is near identical to the city as a whole, and their average deprivation is decile 8 (10 is most deprived).Tags: Christchurch, John Key
3 News reported:
Despite criticism of the sales, Mr Cunliffe says Prime Minister John Key would sell his mother if he got the chance.
I don’t think the public will respond well to snide personal attacks. You can follow the link and see the video at one minute 30. I can’t imagine any swinging voter will respond well to the combination on display there.Tags: David Cunliffe, John Key
Stacey Kirk at Stuff reports:
If Solid Energy was partly privatised, it probably would not be in the mess it is in now, Prime Minister John Key says.
Continuing to defend the Government’s sell-down of state assets, Key said today a deal to bailout Solid Energy might not have been necessary had the company been partially floated.
“My own personal view is if we’d had the mixed ownership model applied to Solid Energy, it may well not have gotten itself in the mess it did,” he told Firstline.
“That’s because the external analysis would have rung a lot of bells and demanded a lot more accountability,” he said.
This is absolutely right. Companies listed on the NZX have continuous disclosure obligations. They have a share price which indicates what the investment experts and shareholders think the company is worth. You get far far more accountability with an NZX listing than you do with an SOE.
He also said other state-owned assets such as TVNZ and NZ Post, had proven not to be good long-term investments to hold on to.
TVNZ and NZ Post will probably both be worth next to nothing in 10 years times. We should be selling them while we can get a cent for them.
“People look at it through rose-tinted glasses, but the reality is the SOE [State-Owned Enterprise] model is not actually a brilliant model,” he said.
“The mixed-ownership model is probably a better model,” he said.
I prefer a full private ownership model if the company is a commercial trading company, but MOM is certainly superior to SOE.Tags: Asset Sales, John Key
The Herald reports:
Labour leader David Cunliffe said the coroner’s recommendation was “interesting”. Mr Cunliffe, a staunch Anglican, said he would not reveal his personal stance on legalising euthanasia, which wouldbe decided by a conscience vote if itcame before Parliament.
“I have a personal view, but given my current responsibilities I’m going to reserve that until my caucus has an opportunity to discuss it.”
I’m sorry, but the Labour caucus has already discussed it. Street would have needed the permission of caucus to lodge her bill last year.
Why can’t Cunliffe just tell us his view? Is he worried that it may upset some people.
Prime Minister John Key said he broadly supported the principle of voluntary euthanasia and would consider it if he was terminally ill.
He said the Government would not introduce it as policy because a clear party stance was required and many National MPs would not support it.
Mr Key said he would not back Ms Street’s bill because he felt it went too far.
A good contrast. Key gives his personal view, and even says how he would vote on Street’s bill. You know where you stand with him.
UPDATE: Even weirder Cunliffe has previously said he would vote for Street’s bill, so why is he now being coy?Tags: David Cunliffe, euthanasia, John Key
Audrey Young interviews John Key:
How many leaders have you met withduring the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands, Britain and France and the United Nations last month and Apec in Bali and and the East Asia Summit in Brunei this week?
[Calculates aloud] Seventy. In my time as Prime Minister, this has been the most intense.
That’s a busy month!
Who made the strongest impression on you this week and why?
Xi Jinping [China's President] has a lot of presence about him. He has a very different style to Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao was less communicative – he stuck to the script whereas Xi Jinping, you feel like you are developing a relationship with him. It’s actually very true of Li Keqiang as well [China's Premier]. They [have] quite a different style to the previous Chinese leadership and they interact with you. You get feedback on how things are going.
Xi Jinping is relatively young (just turned 60). He has been a consistent advocate of attracting investment and boost a free market economy.
Which of the leaders you’ve seen this week are you text buddies with?
Aquino in the Philippines, definitely. Najib in Malaysia, obviously Tony Abbott in Australia.
I think people would be surprised how often various national leaders text each other.
You’re an elder statesman at Apec now.
If I was to reflect back to the first Apec in Peru in 2008, in a sense it shows you how much you learn in five years in the job. There’s always things you don’t know and always things that change but you get so much more comfortable and familiar. Five years ago, Kevin Rudd was the Australian Prime Minister and he went around and introduced me to a lot of the leaders because I really didn’t know anybody. This time I introduced Tony Abbott to people. Funnily when I was chairing the TPP meeting I didn’t feel at all nervous. We took it really seriously but I wasn’t nervous. It was a fun part of the job.
I’m not sure being introduced by Kevin Rudd to people would be an advantage!
Perhaps you’d like an international job like Helen Clark after politics.
I’m touched, but no thanks.
I’d be picking after politics, Bronagh gets to pick what they do next!Tags: John Key
The Herald editorial:
New Zealanders will be mildly amused that their Prime Minister has stepped into the breach left by US President Barack Obama’s inability to be at Bali this week to chair an important meeting of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But we can be proud, too, that New Zealand still has a leading role in this project. …
It would be easy for such an ambitious project to become unwieldy and lose focus as more countries join the talks. There is always the risk that late-comers are joining the talks for the sake of appearances rather than with a serious intent.
But the last to join, Japan, seems serious. In fact its reformist Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, may be the leader keenest to have something definite agreed by the end of this year. That goal, set by President Obama, should concentrate the minds of the meeting that it falls to John Key to chair.
If Japan agrees to a phasing out of agricultural tariffs, that would be huge.
But if it can lower barriers to our exports, New Zealand may have to make concessions in other areas. Since trade negotiations typically proceed in secrecy so that positions are not solidified by political pressure, the possible concessions can arouse fearful speculative opposition.
Opponents of TPP in New Zealand fear the Government will have to compromise on pharmaceutical purchasing, forcing Pharmac to buy prescription drugs on terms dictated by suppliers, particularly in the United States. More generally, opponents warn that the foreign companies will be able to claim damages in international courts against any Government decision that harms their investment here.
The other area of potential concern is around the US proposed intellectual property chapter. It has provisions in it such as extending copyright from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. I think life plus 20 is more than enough personally.
To date the NZ Government position has been to reject clauses that would require a change to our existing IP laws. I hope that position continues. There can be economic costs to having overly restrictive IP laws – as Australia has calculated.
Tags: editorials, John Key, NZ Herald, TPP
Audrey Young reports:
Prime Minister John Key will replace US President Barack Obama as chairman of a top-level meeting in Bali this week.
On Friday afternoon, Obama cancelled his trip to the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum on the island because of the American Budget crisis that has resulted in about 800,000 Government workers not being paid.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will represent Obama at the summit, and at the Trans Pacific Partnership meeting on the sidelines.
NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser said it was decided yesterday that Key should chair the meeting of the 12 countries negotiating the TPP agreement.
The 12 countries are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Their combined GDP is around US$25.4 trillion.Tags: John Key, TPP