John Key says whatever it is convenient for him to say at the time. Usually he can keep track of his many faces well enough to avoid blatantly contradicting himself. But maybe the strain of his recent string of batshit behaviour is starting to tell, because he’s really blown it this time.
On Monday Key was interviewed by John Campbell. The 3 News article is called “Pike River Coal put profit ahead of safety, says John Key” (video link) – here’s a transcript from the start of the piece:
Campbell: …In short it [the report] says Pikes’s safety was compromised by a drive for coal production before the mine was ready, and the Department of Labour who should have prevented that from becoming deadly lacked focus, resourcing and inspection capacity. … I suggested to the Prime Minister that the report is grim and depressing reading.
Key: Yeah I think that’s a good summary actually John. I mean in the end what this report says is that the company essentially put its profits and its production ahead of the safety and lives of those 29 workers. That the company while it had primary responsibility failed to do its job properly…
Fair enough, that’s what the report says, that is what is now obvious to the whole country, only a fool would try and deny it. But oddly enough, deny it is exactly what Key did (ht NRT) during a discussion of Pike River the very next day in parliament:
Kevin Hague: Does he agree that standard economic theory suggests that profit-maximising firms will always prioritise profitability over safety, unless the Government, as regulator, ensures the safety of workers?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think that is a ridiculous statement. That is saying that a company is prepared to risk the deaths of its employees and the reputation of the company for the sole purpose of making money, and even from the most hardened socialist I find that something difficult to believe. In the case of the Pike River mine, let us argue just for a moment that the Pike River Coal company was halfway through its mining operations, and was a successful operation that was operating well. An explosion of the magnitude that took place back in 2010 would have then completely and utterly collapsed that company. That would have made no economic sense to anyone.
OK, so which of the two faces of John Key should we believe on Pike River? John Key Monday who acknowledged that Pike River Coal put profits ahead of safety, or John Key Tuesday who says that such suggestions are ridiculous? (Given his answer on Monday, does Tuesday constitute lying to Parliament?) Can John Key even remember what he is saying from one day to the next? Does he care?