Let’s think back to some of the ministerial scandals of this Key Government. It’s a surprisingly long list for an administration that’s less than two years old.
and there’s probably more that don’t come straight to mind.
Along with his dismal handling of the economy, his failure to discipline his ministers in any of these cases is what earned Key the ‘Do Nothing PM’ Nickname. Indeed, Key has actively supported his ministers in nearly all of these cases, even saying he wished Heatley hadn’t resigned and promptly reinstating him.
Apart from whatever Richard Worth did, Key has not enforced a single standard of ethical or professional behaviour on his ministers.
Ministers know that Key will try to keep his personal brand clean but he won’t do anything to pull them into line. This has created a culture of impunity in the government, which has started to spread wider. The whole Right has been emboldened to let the mask slip – the culture of hatred and fear of anyone but their own rich elite (for whom they demand slavish worship) is in greater evidence than ever across the Right blogosphere and the Right media.
And so we get to last Monday. Paul Henry is interviewing his old National Party colleague Key. He’s got a mandate from his bosses to be offensive and gets paid very well for it. So, he decides to say what he really thinks about the Anand Satyanand. He doesn’t expect any negative reaction from Key, after all the guy was excusing racism from one of his ministers just a couple of weeks ago, and he doesn’t get it. Key laughs and tries to make a joke of it.
Throughout the debacle, Key has sought to close down the issue: first he didn’t think Henry deserve any punishment, then that two week’s suspension was ‘appropriate’, and, now, that the resignation brings ‘closure’. Key seems to now think the management culture that led to Henry’s actions doesn’t need to be addressed.
When you ask why Henry felt he could ask such a bigoted, racist question, remember who he was asking and look at Key’s failure to condemn Henry to date.