It took a few cocktails to loosen Bill English’s tongue when he thought he was among friends. Rodney Hide just needed his coco pops.
At his highly dubious ministerial function/ACT fundraiser breakfast*, Hide told his table that John Key “doesn’t do anything”. The only ‘achievement’ by Key that Hide could identify was the cycleway, which, of course, still hasn’t started despite the recession being over.
Hide revealed how he has been able to push through his radical Supercity agenda with little oversight or criticism from his ministerial collegues in Cabinet because “you turn up with your papers” and “they are too busy with their own stuff they’re not bothered”.
I think Hide’s comments on Key can be interpreted in two valid and inter-related ways.
One is the guy really doesn’t do much in the way of being Prime Minister. He seems to think (and the forces behind National running the Right’s agenda, seem to think) that his role is to be Clown-in-Chief, having a laugh, smiling for the cameras, being popular in a Bush-esque fashion while the real work is done behind the scenes.
The second way of viewing it is that his government really hasn’t done much to confront the big issues of our day (unemployment, low wages, climate change) and Key has ruled out doing anything hard if it will cost him popularity.
Of course, all this is pretty much what we’ve been saying all along. This is a poorly run government with a guy in charge who cares more about being personally popular than governing well.
So, who wants to guess John Key’s response? Yup, you got it in one – he is “relaxed”. I suppose if I was being paid $1000 a day for not doing anything, in the assessment of your own ministers, except hamming it up in front of the cameras a couple of times a month I would be pretty relaxed about life too.
* contrary to Hide’s claim that the $45 cost of the event was only to cover the cost of breakfast, it did make a profit. Stung by the criticism generated by The Standard exposing ACT’s corrupt practice of using ministerial speeches as party fundrasiers, they donated $200 of their profit to St John. I calculate that leaves ACT with about $500 in profit.