First days on the job disappoint

Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, December 2nd, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

The journos don’t seem to have been very impressed by Key now that he has returned to take up the reins of government.

Several journos criticised his performance at his first post-Cabinet press conference. There is growing criticism of Key’s response to the situation in Thailand. Certainly both both his lack of urgency and his loose lips regarding contingency plans he had planned to keep confidential haven’t instilled confidence.

Tracey Watkins reckons that, by dithering on the financial crisis, National is risking its honeymoon ending sooner, rather than later:

The rest of the world, in other words, has decided to “go defcon” while on our side of the globe, despite the “whatever it takes” promises from Prime Minister John Key and Mr English, there has only been cautious talk about bringing forward small infrastructure projects, and a whiff of “awaiting developments” in the air. Even the much- touted December economic stimulus package has had to borrow heavily from Labour’s October 1 tax cuts, which have already been banked, to arrive at the $7 billion figure that is being tossed around as a sign of willing on the Government’s part to join the “fiscal stimulation” party…

But National’s talk so far of curbing government spending has been cautious and while it seems increasingly likely that some hard decisions will have to be made in light of the deteriorating position, it has ruled out the sort of upheaval that a harsh prescription like ACT’s would incur. The other option, to throw a far bigger package at the recession than the one National entered the election campaign with, would be in line with the current international fashion but it comes with no guarantee of success either.

With Mr Key out of the country for Apec in his first week on the job, today when he leads his first Cabinet meeting is the first real day of the new Government getting down to business.

Events on the international stage, including the Air New Zealand disaster, may overshadow it and the report card for the new Government, to date, on its response to those disasters in its first week is mixed. After a slow response earlier in the week to events in India (again, we can blame the fact that ministers’ offices are still only on skeleton staff) it had stepped up a gear by the end of the week in responding to the Air New Zealand disaster.

But those are matters beyond the Government’s control; it is on how it responds over the next few weeks to the more pressing matters within its control that will decide whether the honeymoon is a long one or cut short prematurely.

Colin James is also critical of Key’s continued unwillingness to be firm on anything, although his concern is more that National should try to sneak things through while the honeymoon is on:

if John Key is to make good his vaunted “ambition” and enrich us, he must improve infrastructure and hone institutional settings.

Key has promised additions to Labour’s infrastructure and human capital programmes. But on institutional settings he was bland pre-election and post-election. He has taken to not ruling things out, even a carbon tax. Prime ministers have to rule things out – and in. A good time to start is on the honeymoon, when voters are still smoochy. A bad time to start is in a second term when electoral leeway is tighter.

I guess we are all used to the Prime Minister being firm and clear but, in fact, that was Helen Clark’s personality and abilities, not a consequence of the position. I think, now, what we’re discovering is that people don’t change just because their job changes. In opposition, Key was unwilling to say anything that might offend, was vacillating, and had a tendency to mis-speak. Now he is PM, he is still indecisive and vague, and he seems to lack a sense of the gravity of the decisions he must make.

18 comments on “First days on the job disappoint”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Well so much for this blogs position that the mass-media were somehow immune to National and completely bias against Labour.

    I like Colin Jame’s piece but Tracey Watkins piece is terrible. Her rhetoric is saying do something but either way both are likely to fail.

    [lprent: The blog doesn’t have a position (it is a machine with some software). However you could look at the bloggers who are human and do have positions. Read the Policy]

  2. ianmac 2

    I would expect that the then Opposition but now the Govt, would be decisive and have a good grasp of every positive and every negative aspect affecting NZ. That is what the country apparently voted for. Milly Molly Mandy is not good enough!

  3. Look Steve, just be patient, National will release their plans closer to the election…

  4. bobo 4

    Key just looks like a typical corporate to me, not willing to make a fast decision almost stuck in the pre-election ” Wait we have some policy coming out next week” mode, maybe he should act a bit more like the head of AirNZ he seems to be showing some compassion which is rare for heads of big companies.

  5. gingercrush 5

    bobo you are a nice person aren’t you. Oh wait a minute an Air NZ plane just crashed killing seven people. What is Fyfe meant to do say, “Oh its only seven lives”. And what are you asking John Key to be compassionate about? Since I do remember him being compassionate in terms of the Air NZ crash.

  6. Hostie 6

    Rob Fyfe is all PR. He does it well (pays enough for it!) but that’s all it is.

  7. Phil 7

    Key just looks like a typical corporate to me, not willing to make a fast decision

    Interestingly, I’ve heard the complete opposite in private; The ‘trader’ in him wants to make the decision and enact the trade five minutes ago…

  8. Daveski 8

    I’m tempted to do the Tui billboard thing but I know LP hates that more than a smelly right wing troll … but seriously, did we ever expect SP to write anything positive about Key?

    Moreover, seeing that most of the offices are still being shifted around, Govt hasn’t even kicked off, isn’t it a little early to make these types of calls?

    At least we now know if journos say good things about Key they can be trusted now.

    As a final comment, how many of the governments that Key/NZ is being compared with for taking such decisive action have just been through an election? The US is a little different because it’s still business as unusual until January but it’s a valid issue – other countries haven’t had the disruption of an election.

  9. bobo 9

    Gingercrush , and I thought I was the cynic on here…
    Fyfe could have always handled it like Fontera I guess .. (can’t one ever say something positive about a head of a company? maybe it is all PR maybe I’m thick and gullible, was just an observation that heads of companies are usually more stand off-ish.)

    The only so called maverick thing Key did was not to deal with Winston after the election,,, hardcore….. He certainly doesn’t come over nowadays as the 5 minutes act kind of guy…

    John Key has never struck me as overly compassionate …, he makes a point to state he never cried, hard man.. no idea what the big deal about that is..

    And why the bitching that 2 jets were in service when they have a perfectly good Hercules which could have been dispatched days ago? I get the feeling the only reason its flying out tonight is because the media gave him a hard time this lunchtime….

  10. bobo 10

    Just one other point is Thailand has been dodgy for months now with mass public demonstration sit ins and political unrest.. Maybe Kiwi’s should think a little bit more about than just if the hotel has an on suite bathroom or free mini bar drinks when they book their cheap holidays. You see the tourists on TV say how dare these people protest and disrupt their travel plans as if they have some special badge of immunity… count themselves lucky the situation hasn’t turned into all out riots yet..

  11. insider 11

    The Govt has no reason trying to ‘rescue’ stranded holidaymakers when they are in no direct danger. Let their insurers/travel agents sort it out. Jeez -nanny state or what?

  12. bobo 12

    Scary thought part of me agrees with insider hehe… Surely travel insurance could organize a coach trip a few hundred miles to nearest working airport.. It looks so easy on those VISA card commercials 🙂

  13. sweeetdisorder 13

    Well all, I am booked to fly out to Bangkok on the 26th December and looking forward to it. I think it should be all sorted out by then. If not, anyone who wants to get my daily on the spot blog is welcome.

  14. Kerry 14

    I dont buy the argument that öffice’s are skeleton staffed” i mean someone should have told those protesters in Thailand that they had to call off any sort of protest as its not convenient for New Zealand as they have a new government!!!

    Come on guys pull finger and show some leadership.

    Insider:- your comments go to prove all right wingers are pigs! Hope you get caught in a foreign country one day… would be banging down the Embassy door! HELP HELP

  15. Camryn 15

    Kerry – Yeah, Insider is a pig for suggesting that people use their travel insurance to arrange alternative flights through neighbouring countries since the situation is one of inconvenience rather than danger. So heartless! In any case, by your logic I should be able to claim that all lefties share your flaws, whatever they may be. I can guess at a few if you think your logic is valid!

  16. mike 16

    “Rob Fyfe is all PR. He does it well (pays enough for it!) but that’s all it is.”

    Sums up you bitter lefties perfectly – attack the man not doing it – attack the man as he’s only doing it to look good.

    Very sad to see Fyfe criticised on this topic but par for the course for you guys.

    Captcha: immoral debats – exactly

  17. Mr Magoo 17

    “Rob Fyfe is all PR. He does it well (pays enough for it!) but that’s all it is.’

    Sums up you bitter lefties perfectly – attack the man not doing it – attack the man as he’s only doing it to look good.

    I think you both are as gulty as one another of a very common fallicy:
    More specifically, “Ad hominem circumstantial”

    Statements stand in of themselves and the person who made them and their motivations are not grounds to conclude they are incorrect. (they are certainly grounds to scutinise them for truth!)

    I am sure Hitler, Stalin and Bush made the occasionally correct and agreeable statement!
    (yes, I am using an associative PR trick to associate Bush with certain people…very funny..)

  18. randal 18

    keys has always been in a position where to tell the truth means losing customers
    you cant teach an old dog new tricks

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