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Crossing the line

Written By: - Date published: 2:16 pm, June 25th, 2009 - 38 comments
Categories: child discipline, john key - Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday’s post, A Rankin headache started:

There must be an automatic recoil on the Government benches when Christine Rankin’s name is mentioned.

In the comments, “gobsmacked” makes the observation [abridged]:

John Key has decided to respond by indulging in some very nasty mud-slinging. This what he said in the House on Tuesday:

  1. ‘When National was in Opposition, we still cared about abused children and we did not spend our time playing political games. All those members care about is politics; they do not care about the abused kids of New Zealand.’
  2. ‘I go back to the point I just made: members on this side of the House care about abused kids. We look in the hospitals of New Zealand and see thousands of abused kids, and Christine Rankin has spoken out about the damage that is happening to those kids. We are going to do something about abused kids, because not enough happened under the previous Labour Government.’
  3. ‘I am more focused on the kids than on political point-scoring—but that is OK. Secondly, I do not believe Christine Rankin has been defiant; most sections of the media believe that she has been muzzled. Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.’

He said it three times, so it was obviously a planned line of attack. A very offensive one.

It was a disgraceful comment by the country’s Prime Minister, and he should be castigated for it. Sadly, he won’t be.

38 comments on “Crossing the line ”

  1. randal 1

    yep keys attacks are pretty feeble.
    can he explain just what his government is doing about child abuse other than appointing totally useless bigmouths to positions to which they are grossly unsuited and ideologically opposed to.
    when christine rankin takes a stand for not assaulting children then she might have some credibility.
    at the moment she is just another strawman for the government.
    a big target with the hide of a rhinoceros.
    if the beltway cant calla spade a spade then get someone else.

  2. r0b 2

    I don’t know why anybody should believe a single thing that National says, either in opposition, or in government. “Personally guaranteed” tax cuts any one?

    NRT outlines another prime example of a 180 degree reversal in Nat rhetoric here:

    But anyway, if we make the mistake of taking anything Key says seriously then this post is correct, it’s a pretty shameful line he was running on abuse.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    For many years Labour has claimed to be the only party that cares about the least fortunate in society, and has consistently attacked National for not caring about whoever is at the bottom of the heap. I don’t see the problem with John Key turning the argument on its head. At least he won’t accuse Labour of being a “class traitor” for doing so.

    • r0b 3.1

      For many years Labour has claimed to be the only party that cares about the least fortunate in society

      So – That’s an interesting statement Tim. Could you please post a few examples of Labour claiming this?

      I don’t see the problem with John Key turning the argument on its head

      Applied economics is what politics is largely about, and it seems legitimate to make claims about which party is or isn’t taking care of people.

      But Key’s claims are different, he claims Labour MPs as individuals don’t care about abused kids. That’s just vicious.

      • Tim Ellis 3.1.1

        No, I’m not going to play your pedantic game, r0b. Google it yourself. You’ll find all sorts of hits such as “National doesn’t care about kiwi battlers”, from Phil Goff, through to Jim Anderton saying National doesn’t care, through to a post here at the Standard (hint, “Same Old National Party”, which refers to the National Party being vicious and punitive.

        Sure, painting your opponents as not caring is very tribal, but the Left have been doing it for years.

        • r0b

          No, I’m not going to play your pedantic game, r0b.

          So that’s a “no” then, you can’t back up your claims, as usual.

          Sure, painting your opponents as not caring is very tribal, but the Left have been doing it for years.

          As above, some of that is legitimate and some isn’t. Key has hit a new and very tawdry low here – he personally accused Labour MPs of not caring about abused children. It’s pathetic.

          • Tim Ellis

            Read my post again, r0b. I pointed you to multiple examples of Labour and the Left doing exactly as I said.

            Phil Goff personally accused National MPs of not caring about kiwi battlers, a couple of months ago. I didn’t see your faux outrage at Mr Goff then, but then again you wouldn’t win the hypocrisy prize you’re winning now if you had.

          • George D

            Labour have painted their opponents about not caring about the poor, and not caring about poor children. Not a huge amount in the last few years, but it does add up over time. You’d have to be blind not to have seen that rhetoric, r0b. They have never made the claim about their opponents that they don’t care about violence against children however.

            This certainly doesn’t justify the rhetoric from Key. Hypocritical, as they spent little of their energy proposing solutions, apart from “tough on crime.

          • r0b

            I pointed you to multiple examples of Labour and the Left doing exactly as I said.

            Ahh no, your claim was “For many years Labour has claimed to be the only party that cares about the least fortunate in society”. You’ve pointed to exactly no real examples of anything so far, and certainly not of Labour claiming what you said, to be the only party that cares.

            Labour might indeed have said such a thing, but if you’re going to go about stating it as a fact then you should be able to back it up. But then, you do have a long history of telling lies about Labour…

            Phil Goff personally accused National MPs of not caring about kiwi battlers, a couple of months ago

            As above, economic claims are more the realm of politics, and both sides indulge in this kind of rhetoric. But (also as above), a line has been crossed when Key accuses Labour MPs of not caring about child abuse.

          • craig

            National doesn’t care about Kiwi battlers


            To be fair, both sides do this all the time. Hell Act say that if you really cared about the poor you’d adopt their policies. So do the Greens. The Maori Party implies the same thing about Maori.

            At the end of the day nearly everyone in parliament wants to make the country a better place. They disagree about HOW to make the country a better place. NOBODY wants little kids being abused, nobody wants poor people, nobody gets turned on by seeing homeless people on the street on little brown kids not getting a good education.

            John Key doesn’t actually think Phil Goff doesn’t care about abused kids, and I doubt Phil Goff thinks he does. It’s called politics. Both sides play up all this bullshit, which is why most NZers hate politicians and (if they actually read them) would hate the crap blogs like the Standard and Whaleoil etc write.

          • r0b

            To be fair, both sides do this all the time.

            Yes they do, within certain boundaries.

            John Key doesn’t actually think Phil Goff doesn’t care about abused kids, and I doubt Phil Goff thinks he does.

            Are you sure? He said “Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.’ That seems pretty unambiguous.

            It’s called politics.

            Then perhaps we should try and help clean up politics a bit by pointing it out when politicians cross the line, as Key has here. If there isn’t at least some reaction about it, it will just keep getting worse…

            I’m prepared to say when I think Labour cross the line, as they have with unacceptable comments on the private lives of some Nat MPs (National of course have done the same). I think it would be healthy if commentators on the other side of the political spectrum could make the same admission when required, instead of leaping for the blind ideological reflexive counterattack.

          • Tigger

            Has Labour actually said ‘we care about abused children and National don’t’? It’s one thing to say X doesn’t care about the poor/Maori/the environment/climate change etc – I expect this type of puffery and posturing from MPs – but to effectively say ‘your lot support child abuse’ is rather vile – I wouldn’t condone this from any MP of any party.

  4. Helen 4

    The “Guest post” author isn’t bothered that Key’s comments are entirely accurate.

    the Labour/Green anti-smacking bill was designed to de-legitimise good parenting
    because child abuse is perpetrated overwhelmingly by Labour-voters.

    While countless children are being beaten, broken and murdered in Labour heartlands like South Auckland, Rotorua and Mount Albert, Labour passed into law legislation which focused the attention of our law enforcement and judicial services on law-abiding citizens disciplining unruly children.

    Rotorua P-addicted beneficiary beating 3 year old girl to death = Labour Okay!

    Taxpayer slapping unruly child on the bottom in Freemans Bay supermarket = Labour Labour Bad!

    • Tigger 4.1

      Yes ‘Helen’, Labour hates children and wants them dead.

      I find Key’s ‘muzzling’ remark here puzzling. The only way Rankin has been muzzled is because National put her on the FC and, thus, are preventing her from ‘openly campaigning’ on what she believes in.

    • Pj 4.2

      Gee, I wonder what “Labour-voters” is code for

      • Helen 4.2.1

        It’s a collective term to describe the unproductive; the beneficiaries, the criminals, the HIV-positive/unskilled/illiterate immigrants and the intellectually feeble that constitute the Labour constituency.

    • Wow Helen

      What can I say?

      I must have missed that meeting where we authorised the beating and maiming of innocent children and authorised the prosecution of the Freemans Bay person who story does not appear to have been publicised. Has he or she been charged yet?

      Helen you are making as much sense as Key was.

    • Anita 4.4


      You’re going to produce some evidence that child abuse is “perpetrated overwhelmingly by Labour-voters”, right? Otherwise it might looking like you’re making things up for rhetorical effect.

      While you’re doing that you might want to figure into it that Rotorua is currently heartland National.

      • irascible 4.4.1

        Prior to Stevie Chadwick Rotorua was a National seat sat on firmly by Paul East.

  5. Tim Ellis 6

    Rob, the implication if a political leader says that their opponent doesn’t care, is that they are the only party who does care.

    Just last year, Helen Clark said in Parliament: “What is it about kiwis and the public interest that the National Party hates?”

    Last month, Catherine Delahunty claimed the National Government doesn’t care about women.

    During the by-election, Darren Hughes claimed that the National Party doesn’t care about the people affected by the Waterview route.

    Last year, Nanaian Mahuta said National doesn’t care about youth. She further said John Key was “rubbishing young New Zealanders and their views”.

    It’s been a major part of Labour’s description of National as uncaring.

  6. r0b 7

    Rob, the implication if a political leader says that their opponent doesn’t care, is that they are the only party who does care.

    That’s a pretty ridiculous claim. When National say that Labour don’t care about cutting taxes, are they claiming that they are the only party that does? Hello – ACT! When Labour say National don’t care about the environment, are they claiming that they are the only party that does? Hello – Greens!

    Your wacky “implications” are not facts Tim, never have been, never will be. Just do a bit of sanity checking when you write a comment. Before you hit submit, read it and ask yourself “is that actually true?”. If it is, fire away, if not, fix it.

    • George D 7.1

      r0b, Labour claim that National ‘does not care’ fairly often. The Greens claim that Labour and National don’t care about the environment.

      Mr “Guest Post” has a really good point here about National’s sick game, but you’re wasting it defending the indefensible.

      And when did The Standard start using so many unnamed guest posters?

      [lprent: When we started getting people sending in posts, not wanting to become a regular poster and not wanting to attach their name to the post. Frequently they don’t even want a psuedonym because of some of the bad habits by the people who like to ‘out’ psuedonyms on sperious grounds.

      I’m happy about the trend. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve always been of the opinion that content rather than identity is what is required for a post to be good. We do some rough vetting of the content before it gets put up. But since it usually is opinion and fair comment a high proportion gets through. The ones that don’t tend to be badly written or way too long.]

      • r0b 7.1.1

        you’re wasting it defending the indefensible.

        Not quite sure what indefensible thing you think I’m defending George? Please read the discussion carefully if you’re going to try and tell me…

        And when did The Standard start using so many unnamed guest posters?

        Recently and gradually.

  7. gobsmacked 8

    I made the original comment (which was simply quoting directly from Hansard) because of two things that struck me.

    The first is that Key’s line was prepared. That’s why he kept repeating it. Now, we all know that shouting “We’re good, you’re bad, nyah nyah” is part of the playground exchanges in the House (or on blogs!). But in this case, the Prime Minister had planned a line of attack – or somebody had suggested it to him – and he thought it was a good idea. Where was that little voice in the head which says “Better not go there”? It is a very revealing insight into his perspective on politics (shorthand: Crosby/Textor).

    Of course, John Key does not really believe that Labour MPs just don’t care about kids suffering horrible abuse. But he decided to say it anyway. Why?

    The second point – a bigger one, I think – is that the Prime Minister could make such an absurd and offensive statement and be given a free pass by the media. Compare that with Clark’s comments (unwise, IMHO), like “cancerous and corrosive”, or “haters and wreckers”. Or Michael Cullen’s famous interjection – “rich prick”.

    Those remarks became news stories. They entered the political lexicon. They are established in the folk memory. And if Key’s comments about child abuse had been made by Prime Ministers Rudd or Brown or President Obama, that too would have been front page news. Seriously, just think about it: “Hey, Senator McCain doesn’t care about abused kids.” Obama would be toast.

    But when John Key lashes out, way below the belt, it passes unnoticed. Nor is this the first time. It’s as if the Key image, the jokey-blokey, say-it-with-a-smile style, has conquered the critical faculties of the press gallery, and the wider media, so they don’t actually listen to what he is saying.

    He is all salesman and no product, but the media are buying. And as long as he gets away with it, he’ll keep doing it. That is a serious cause for concern.

    • Tim Ellis 8.1

      gobsmacked, I don’t think I’ve seen any criticism from you about headlines at the Standard which include such phrases as “National still hate women”, which was as recent as, wow, last week.

      [lprent: You mean a headline that expressed rocky’s opinion on NACT’s attitudes on issues that are important to her? Talk to her about it if you want the reasoning detailed comprehensively and long. “The Standard” doesn’t have opinions on post headlines because basically I don’t care that much about what posters put up as a headline provided it isn’t too long. ]

      • gobsmacked 8.1.1

        When did the Standard become Prime Minister?

        Tim, do you expect your leader to act as if he is ranting on the blogs? Do you believe the police do not need to act professionally, because – hey, the crims are worse?

        Don’t be so stupid.

  8. Tim Ellis 9

    How about this then, r0b? Last year Trevor Mallard said in the House: “I do not know why National hates the parents of children with special needs.”

    Last year, 08wire during the campaign claimed that John Key loves money and hates children.

    In 2004, Trevor Mallard said in the House: ” The facts that people are better off, earn more, and are more likely to be in jobs than previously are something that this Government is proud of. Tories hate that. They do not like workers to earn money.”

    In 2006 he said: “I just do not understand why Tories hate Kiwis who make money.

    Every time Labour attacks a National MP for “beating up” on a group of people, they are implying that Labour cares and National doesn’t. You can dance on the head of a pin as often as you like, rob, but the fact is Labour has been applying this technique for years, and as venomously.

    • gobsmacked 9.1

      So your argument, Tim, is that John Key is as bad as Trevor Mallard?

      Isn’t that the very opposite of the image he sells?

      • mickysavage 9.1.1

        Oh dear we are into the “you did it too” defence.

        You can always tell when the right are cornered because they then come out with “but in [insert year] [insert name of politician] was worse because he/she did [describe act]”

        It has to be the most unprincipled defence there is. Why am I not surprised?

        • the fonz

          not correct-a-mundo mickey.

          you’re being called out for being hypocrites. dress it how you want but it’s a pretty accurate tag and hypocrisy is so unprincipled.

          • Pascal's bookie

            yawn. I’ll see your bullshit claim of hypocrisy and point out that you are arguing ad hominem by claiming that because x is a hypocrite we should discard x’s argument.

            no one has yet presnted anything like this stuff coming from Labour. the best that they’ve come up with is comments from labour that ‘National doesn’t care about the battlers’. Things like that.

            There is a qualitative difference there. Labour was accusing National of siding with the wealthy. Key accused Labour of siding with child abusers. You may think those accusations are equivalent, I think that is a quite remarkable claim.

            Even if we accept though, just for fun, that there is hypocrisy involved, it of course cuts both ways.

            For years we were told that Labour argued in the gutter, and that National was above all that.

            What a pack of lies that all turned out to be.

          • mickysavage


            Details please.

            There are too many of you trolls who log on, make idiot generalised comments that cannot be backed up, and then refuse to debate the details.

  9. r0b 10

    Last year Trevor Mallard said in the House: “I do not know why National hates the parents of children with special needs.’

    What a silly thing for Trevor to have said. There Tim – see how easy it is?

    Last year, 08wire

    So not Labour then?

    In 2006 he said: “I just do not understand why Tories hate Kiwis who make money.

    What a silly thing for Trevor to have said.

    the fact is Labour has been applying this technique for years, and as venomously.

    Nonsense. Here we have the leader of the National Party, repeatedly running what appears to be a premeditated attack (as gobsmacked has pointed out) accusing Labour MPs of not caring about child abuse. It has crossed the line, it’s pathetic. Why is it so impossible for you to just say so Tim? Serious question, you might want to ponder it for yourself a bit.

  10. Pascal's bookie 11

    I suspect too, that in all of Tim’s examples, (that he has obviously googled but won’t link to), the rhetoric is in response to specific policies or statements.

    That is not to say that the rhetoric is nice, or fair, but only that it is about something.

    For example, Goff on the ‘Battlers’ was about National’s tax cuts which benefit the wealthy to a greater extent than Labour’s package, which National repealed.

    So while Goff was attacking the motive, which is always dubious, at least it was plausible based on actions taken by the National party.

    What the fuck is Key on about? What policies of Labour’s is he justifying this rhetoric with?

  11. Craig Glen Eden 12

    I have to agree with Pb well argued. Tim give up mate, Pb has just kicked your arse, I have to say though at least you tried to make some arguments Tim, unlike Helen. Stop taking the P girl it makes you totally stuuuupid.

    The worse line from the National party use to be Labour dirty, National clean. Now Key comes up with a new low line. The truth is National leak shit to the press and hardly ever have the balls to front anything, some think this is clever, I tend to think spineless. National like to play the we are above that dirty stuff line, but they ran the dirty stuff pretty consistently to undermine the last Labour Government.

    I still think if National could ever achieve the kind of benefits the last Labour Government did for NZ with reducing Government debit and reducing unemployment and child poverty we would all be happy.
    Bet they don’t, bet they cant, bet they never will. Key can chuck as much shit as he likes at Labour Mp’s he wont be a 10th of the PM Clark was. Key is desperate, desperate times desperate lines and what only 8 months in. He’s just a shit thrower, wow what a guy.

  12. nznative 13

    Parliament is a bloody disgrace.

    Most of the Mp’s in the main party’s treat us ( the citizens of New Zealand ) with contempt and this is reflected in politicians being viewed as devious and untrustworthy …………………. and thats Both sides.

    I view the two main partys like this : Labor = bad and rotten , Natianal’s = plain evil.

    When I go to the toilet I’m going for a ‘right honorable’.

    I think its good to see John Key keeping it in the sewer because it will just help more New Zealanders see them for the low lifes and scum they are ………

    Btw is’nt it interesting how the ‘mainstream’ and ‘conservative’ partys carry on like nasty prats and treat parliament with contempt yet the smaller fringe partys seem to act more like adults.

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