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The photo-op PM, a ‘nice to have?’

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, April 21st, 2011 - 76 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Key’s helicopter rides. Huge waste of money for what? A V8 photo-op then a golf club dinner.

Why are we paying this guy $7750 a week to do nothing but photo ops?

Where’s the recovery package for the West Coast? Where’s the Chch plan? Where’s the brighter future?

Sorry, PM’s been too busy playing race cars and eating fancy dinners.

76 comments on “The photo-op PM, a ‘nice to have?’ ”

  1. What is it with Tories and helicopters? Michelle Boag, Sarah Fergusson, and now John Key.

    • toad 1.1

      You are forgetting Anne Tolley.

      • higherstandard 1.1.1

        And Winston peters

        • Monty

          You are forgetting Helen Clark who was a much more regular user of the Helicopters than John Key ever has been, and Clark used the Helicopters for electioneeering. 

          Don’t make me call you leftists a bunch of Hyprocrites now???

          • Colonial Viper

            Yeah thats a pack of drivel

            And lets not forget that to the NAT’s, every day is an electioneering day

            • Monty

              Viper – it is about winning – and that is something Natioanal are so good at doing – as opposed to your lot which seem to spend their life in-fighting the factions and generally doing everything they can to ensure they lose the election.

              • mcflock

                Nats are “so good” at winning?

                Come on – over the last 20 or 30 years the Nats have managed to win about half of the elections when their major oponents “seem to spend their life in-fighting the factions and generally doing everything they can to ensure they lose the election.”

                Opponents that bad and all they can do is scrape through on a c-minus? That’s not exactly a glowing assessment of National’s competence (accurate though it might be).

              • Jum

                Monty – you’re right there – Nats are ‘anal’.

          • Deborah Kean

            You are forgetting Helen Clark who was a much more regular user of the Helicopters than John Key ever has been, and Clark used the Helicopters for electioneeering.

            Er, I don’t remember that – really!

            • PeteG

              I don’t remember it either but apparently so:

              However, the use of RNZAF aircraft by him and his ministers has fallen well within the air force’s budget in the past two years.
              Use of RNZAF aircraft was higher when Helen Clark was Prime Minister. She was criticised for using a King Air plane to get to a Grey Power meeting in Southland in 2008 when commercial air traffic was disrupted.

              Use of air force aircraft hit 326.2 flying hours in 2003 when ministers and VIPs were flown to war commemorations in Korea and Italy, on an official visit to the Solomon Islands, visits to Defence Force personnel in the Middle East and to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria, among other trips.

              The Defence Force’s 2010 report shows the department used 82 flying hours across all three aircraft types. Just 32.2 hours were used in 2009.

              Maybe it was just a normal part of the PM going about her business and wasn’t  something anyone tried to make an issue out of.

              • Draco T Bastard

                It’s not that the PM uses the air force to get about when necessary – it’s about John Key using the air force to get about when completely unnecessary, ie, a fucken waste of taxpayers resources.

              • burt

                And don’t forget that when inconvenienced by grounded planes because of a baggage handlers strike in Melbourne she called the Air Force to get her home.  Crazy that a Labour leader decided to completely mock the striking workers – but hardly surprising for such a self serving ….

  2. Sookie 2

    What a tosser. I feel like I’m living in America these days, where Average Joe’s have been brainwashed into applauding and commending our smug, rich prick overlords while viciously turning on the disadvantaged i.e themselves and their neighbours, in the pathetic hope that they one day will be as rich and awesome as ‘good bastard’ Key. But I expect that’s exactly the kind of toxic environment Fairfax/Nats/Business Roundtable/Mediaworks/Crosby Textor etc wanted to create. I don’t see Average Joe agreeing with me that Key is a tosser, they’ll think he’s The Man.

  3. PeteG 3

    What is it with lefties and helicoptors?

    In 2008, former prime minister Helen Clark came under fire from ACT for using an air force flight on the campaign trail after commercial flights to Southland were cancelled.

    National declined to criticise Clark at the time.

    Wasn’t this yesterday’s beat up?

    • Bright Red 3.1

      Clark came under fire, Key comes under fire. What’s your problem?

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        I’d also suggest that having your commercial flights cancelled, which is out of your control, is a little different than booking yourself in for two engagements with a strict time limitation on attending both and then needing to arrange alternative transport to suit your schedule.

  4. Tigger 4

    Part of this is the reaction to the lisping catwalk shocker where Key looked as camp as a row of tents.  But no number of helicopters and V8 cars can make Key look butch.

    • todd 4.1

      Agreed! However the main issue is that we’re paying for Key to undertake non-essential flights for his photo opportunities. Clearly Shonkeys mediocre appearance is not nice to have plastered over the TV every night and I’m starting to suffer from over saturation. The fact that his climate change credibility is further damaged probably never crossed his mind. There is no benefit to the public from such escapades and I fail to see why the general public is accepting Shonkeys continued abuse of power. I hate to think about how much this jaunt actually cost the tax payer, while National hack and cut every possible area of social spend they can think of. For all intents and purposes, it’s an indictment of how disassociated National is from reality.

  5. According to Wayne Mapp it’s definitely not a ‘nice to have’, it’s ‘perfectly acceptable’ even given public service cut-backs and such straightened times:

    However, Defence minister Wayne Mapp told Radio New Zealand this morning that the Prime Minister’s use of the Iroquois was “perfectly acceptable”.
    “When the Prime Minister accepts an invite it’s important he shows up on time,” Mapp said

    Apparently, the time issue was also so important because protocol demanded that the PM arrive before the GG at the dinner. That protocol is apparently not a ‘nice to have’ either – absolutely essential. Then there’s the V8 race appearance – not a nice to have either, despite potentially delaying the PM from meeting the demands of the ever-so-important protocol for the black-tie dinner.

    • Sean 5.1

      I’m pretty sure, that with a bit of planning, a trip between two functions, one in Auckland, the other just down Highway One in Hamilton, would not require a helicopter.

      Given that the Hamilton V8s was an extended event during the weekend, the Prime Minister could structure his attendence there at any stage, or cancel it all together. John Key isn’t a member of the Hamilton City Council, what stake did he really have in it beyond a chance at being photographed?

    • Lanthanide 5.2

      It’s a pretty weird protocol. Why does it matter who turns up first?

      • Bright Red 5.2.1

        yeah. If you’re calling out the airforce for several hours of flights at $900 per hour just so a stupid protocol won’t be breached at some stupid dinner (golf club now has royal in its name, whoopdee do), you’re really out of touch.
        captcha – taxs

        • mcflock

          It’s because the G-G is the head of state’s representative. Comes down to who is expected to be hanging around waiting for whom, and basic courtesy.

          But then if I had a “highly important” pissup to get to, I’d make sure I wasn’t spending the day at the races too far away.

          Kind’ve stuffs the blokey image he wanted by going to the V8s, though – helicoptering away to go to a black tie function.

          Although I quite liked Goff doing the interview while in his own car.

      • William Joyce 5.2.2

        Probably royal protocol given the GG’s substitutionary role.

        • Jim Nald

          We should get real and not slavishly and rigidly be tied down to protocol handed down to us from the colonial days.
          Our GG is our own representative – Anand Satyanand is a nice, friendly, non-pretentious chappy, and we’re not given to airs. No great disaster and uppity nonsense as to whichever one arrives after the other.
          As someone said, with a bit of preparation and better scheduling, there would have been no need to resort to the helicopter. The resources of the State are not just suddenly reduced overnight to be subject to the fancy and the disposal of John Key just because he became PM and his poor planning.

  6. KINTO 6


    Farrar defends key invoking Labours acient “closing the gaps” policy.

    Does this man have no shame? or just no credibility?

    • Na, he’s just trying to step into the territory of the other uber-male leaders, Berlusconi and Putin – you know, who when they go out at night in the bush, piss around their own sites to ward off any potential predators, although with Berlusconi – he is the predator, whereas Putin seems to want to attract the predators to wrestle with.

  7. randal 7

    I guess greasing up to the lead heads and the golf club are now matters of state importance and require the most dignified carriage we can supply from our budget…choke, barf, yetcchhhh etc.

  8. sodapaper 8

    Sure Key is a dork|rich-prick|hypocrite  blah blah blah yet his use of a chopper won’t make the slittiest bit of difference to his popularity. Whats far more important is for Labour to pull finger and offer up something to believe in.

    • William Joyce 8.1

      Well, said. Because of the weigh this issue has been framed it seems to the masses sitting in front of their weapons of mass distraction as a petty attack.
      This issue has been framed wrong. It’s like the bitching is about the use of a helicopter per se. It should be about the use of the helicopter to go to something trivial and unnecessary.

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9

    Helicopter: one of the most inefficient forms of transport ever invented; more fuel used and more CO2 emitted than for practically anything else per passenger kilometre.

    V8 racing: cars going round a track to see which one can use fuel and generate pollution the fastest.

    It’s obvious what Key’s agenda is: increase profits for oil companies and melt the planet.

    • M 9.1


      Yep my thoughts exactly – mindless waste of fuel and generation of carbon emisions flying to see mindless waste of fuel and the resultant carbon emissions.

      Motor sport in all forms should be outlawed immediately.

  10. chris 10

    Ex. Herald this AM
    “However, the use of RNZAF aircraft by Key and his ministers has fallen well within the air force’s budget in the past two years. The Use of RNZAF aircraft was higher when Helen Clark was Prime Minister.”

    Sticking to new policies, ideas etc .would be more conducive to gaining votes don’t you think.

  11. JonL 11

    Who cares – the RNZAF helicopters are part of the defence budget and have an allowance for flying “dignataries” around, anyway!
    Just another red herring to divert peoples attention away from the important things and give the media something else to howl about..
    Sookie – I agree with you totally!

    • Bright Red 11.1

      “the RNZAF helicopters are part of the defence budget and have an allowance for flying “dignataries” around, anyway!”

      The point is that maybe that budget ought to be cut – because it’s a nice to have.

      And don’t give me that ‘but they own the helicopters anyway’ crap. They own the limo that Key didn’t take too.

      • Bazar 11.1.1

        The limo wasn’t an option in itself so don’t bring it up as an alternitive.
        And cutting the budget, what would that achieve? Other then make transport for ministers harder to come by.
        In fact it’d result in these outcomes
        1. Less travel by the airforce, resulting in cost savings, but lower productivity.
        2. More travel by commerical travel, resulting in more costs to the tax payer
        3. Budgeting overruns by the air-force.
        None of those outcomes are very appealing.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Actually, the limo was an option or even just a taxi but the best option was not to go to the V8s. It certainly wasn’t worth the extra needed to get an air force helicopter in to ferry him.
          1.) Productivity is likely to be about the same.
          2.) Actually, the air force is only used to transport ministers when commercial flights aren’t available as commercial flights are cheaper.
          Actually, you’re 1. and 2. contradict each other anyway. “cost savings” in 1. going through to “more costs” in 2.
          3.) WTF? A part of the budget that isn’t used results in budgetary overruns?
          Bazar, you’re talking out your arse. Of course, you are a RWNJ so this is expected.

        • William Joyce

          The BMWs were an  option. Duncan Garner said that, talking to people travelling that day, there was no traffic problem. Obviously just a perceived one.
          The issue is not how he got there as much as the justification – If in your project to manage the PM you run into a scheduling issue then you identify that your project has a crucial point in the timeline that cannot be missed ie. must be at the golf club no later than xyz hours. You then work backwards and i.d. what is or is not essential and can be dropped or rescheduled.
          The races were not essential to anyone else but Key. THAT is the point of attack. The debate should have been framed – “John Key thought that xyz number of minutes at an event that a prime minister was not required to attend (and could have dropped or rescheduled) was worth wasting tax payers money.
          If the counter argument is that they would have been training to carrying a dignitary anyway then all that tells us is that here is a place where the defence department can save some money. How difficult is it to carry a dignitary? As opposed to anyone else? What new skill set do they need?
          When they practise they carry a dummy anyway – what’s the difference?

        • Deadly_NZ

          Oh BULLSHIT all reports were that the traffic was light, So as usual he was just doing an expensive smile and wave.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      the RNZAF helicopters are part of the defence budget and have an allowance for flying “dignataries” around, anyway!

      Doesn’t mean that that budget should be used. Hell, it’s thinking like yours that gets bureaucrats accused of wanting to build empires.

  12. Irascible 12

    The trappings of arrogance are the meat & vegetables of the infotainment media cockroaches. This behaviour is what passes as news and criticism in their view of the world.
    Wait,now, for a breathless statement from Key, that he sympathises withKey is behaving more and more like the petty dictators who are nw getting their comeuppance in the  Middle East where the public have growndisillusioned with the wasting of their resources supporting the  “leaders” bank accounts and lifestyles.
    Along with the heated seats of Key’s BMW and the self awaded tax breaks Key is simply living the life of the petty dictator and, as such, must return to his asylum resort in Hawaii.

  13. Janice 13

    I wonder if why this use of the helicopter has got so much airplay is because John Boy has taken his senior spin doctors and media lackeys overseas with him for photo ops with other dignitaries and there is nobody left to shut it down apart from a few second rate trolls. It will be interesting to see what the compliant (paid for) TV3 does with it in their news tonight.

    • Carol 13.1

      The TV news will probably focus on the pre-match build-up to the wedding.  Happily I won’t be watching the TV One or TV3 news for the foreseeable future.

      • Deborah Kean 13.1.1

        So far, we’re nearly at the end of 3 News and they have ignored the whole issue…

  14. Sam 14

    I’m curious as to why Left leaning activists seem to think that The Minister for Tourism shouldn’t be actively engaged in his portfolio?
    We know that John Key has two roles: The Minister of Tourism and The Prime Minister.
    We also know that on the given day, Each role required attendance in a different city in an official capacity.
    I would also would be raising questions if the Minister of Tourism didnt attend a significant event such as the Hamilton 400.
    Keeping such in mind, I think the use of an Air force Iroquois was a pragmatic decision that allowed John Key to carry out official duties on the day.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      Because that particular wasteful event should be canned with extreme prejudice.

    • Colonial Viper 14.2

      Wow John Key wasting state resources is now “Pragmatic” according to the Right
      Or it could be a sign of an out of touch leader who loves the Perks too much.

      • Jim Nald 14.2.1

        “Pragmatic” is such a weasel word, aye.
        Just keep an ear out for Shonkey repeating that more in the coming months.
        “Pragmatic” is like like like erm unprincipled! Ha ha!

    • rosy 14.3

      Are you sure he went in his official capacity? I was under the impression he took his kid to the races, like half the petrolheads in the country want to, but he could manage to tuck in a couple of election photo-ops so he could get the taxpayer to pay for the transport.

  15. wild.colonial.boy 15

    Key is riding so high in the polls that I doubt that he or his minders care about the flak.

    It might be worth pointing out that in Sydney, where regular peak-hour gridlock is a way of life, it is common for the elite to get around by chopper. Kerry Packer had his own pilot, Dick Smith flies himself, the NSW premier has a state chopper. It is just one of their options ..
    But a V8 photo-op and a golf club dinner at a time when seniors are shivering in damaged Christchurch houses as winter looms ? It says a lot about the priorities of this government.

    • mcflock 15.1

      Key is riding so high in the polls that I doubt that he or his minders care about the flak.

      Pride goes before the fall – National need to watch their step, simply because as a party they were at this level at this stage of the last election and still lost 10%.

      Yes, they still won in 08, but the more they relax now the more they’ll sweat come election time. And anyone who says they don’t sweat at election time is a fool or a lier 🙂 

      But I hope you’re right and they’re beginning to get careless…

      • Galeandra 15.1.1

        …and their shills are beginning to have sweaty palms. Notes the rising levels of shrillness in the troll flock? Real NZ is beginning to stir, a cool little breeze is beginning to eddy.

  16. Frederick 16

    Imagine you’re a tourist in this country and you see a major news item is a problem with the leader of the country taking a 20 minute ride in a helicopter to an event he’s attending. You would either laugh hysterically or seek diplomatic assistance to leave urgently.     

    • Carol 16.1

      Yes, said tourist might be afraid they have inadvertently entered a country run by a corrupt, but floundering dictator, with violent street protests not far off.

      • mcflock 16.1.1

        Oh noes, everybody! We’re being economic saboteurs by criticising the prime minister! Quick, call the SIS for a dawn raid!

    • Draco T Bastard 16.2

      You forgot to mention that he only needed to waste all that expense because he went to an event he didn’t need to making him late to another.
      Said tourist would probably be wondering if they’d walked into a banana republic and if they were safe.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.3

      I dunno Fred. Everyone thinks their own country’s politics looks pretty daft, and most often they’re right.

    • Ms M 16.4

      Fredrick I’m glad you have raised the pettiness of of New Zealand politics from an international perspective as some years back a BBC report started
      …When other countries in election time are facing assassination attempts, countries on the brink of civil war, acid attacks and the like, how quaint it s that all those in NZ had to worry about was whether or not their sitting PM was speeding in a car she wasn’t driving.


  17. Aaron Newbie 17

    I guess the last PMs thousand+ arts, culture and nature, photo-ops are the only ones deemed worthy. Her NZ Rugby League patronage offered no such opportunities either and any mileage was obviously just the mere fact of her turning up.

  18. gobsmacked 18

    You ungrateful peasants just don’t appreciate the sacrifices made by King John on our behalf. He choppered off to the V8’s in Hamilton not for himself, but for us.

    Need proof? 

    Here he is hard at work in Hamilton, making sure the nation’s precious assets are in good hands, and keeping abreast of things …


    • Irascible 18.1

      Suitable for a caption contest.
      Could begin with John asks where Tony Veitch is as he gropes toward another brief encounter.
      “See Liz I can leer and drool just like Shane so why not join me.”
      This is definitely an indcation that Key is modelling himself on the life style of an Italian PM.

      • Jim Nald 18.1.1

        Is that why he was running late?
        I can hear his helicopter cumming.

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.2

        This is definitely an indcation that Key is modelling himself on the life style of an Italian PM.

        I hear the parties were young and nubile.

    • Ms M 18.2

      “how yoooou doin'”

  19. Jenny 19

    No amount of money is spared for these luxuries while honest Kiwis do it hard

  20. Chris 20

    ‘gobsmacked’ maybe if Goff came across as a normal kiwi bloke his poll rating might lift from the margin of error.

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      Ha, last I looked, Goff hit double digits for the first time.
      It’s Key who has no margin for error 🙂

      Still, there is room for improvement, significant room.

      • PeteG 20.1.1

        No, you are “forgetting” the last time you looked and are hoping an unusually high (for Goff) previous poll wasn’t just an anomaly.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hey PeteG, you haven’t figured it out yet?
          At this stage, I’m only interested in “anomalies”.
          Because one of those on Nov 26 is what’s going to take Key and the rest of the NATs out of office 🙂

      • Jim Nald 20.1.2

        As gamblers would know – John Key’s high polling will fall.
        The donkey bubble will burst.

        • MrSmith

          And lets face it Jim Wonkey’s a jinks Pike river,Earth quakes,Oil prices like all Gamblers his luck has run out

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