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Key’s culture of impunity

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, October 11th, 2010 - 18 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national/act government - Tags:

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.

  • Bill “Double Dipton” English’s accommodation rort.
  • Phil Heatley’s credit card rort
  • Rodney Hides’ travel expenses rort
  • Rodney Hide’s admission that Key ‘doesn’t do anything’
  • Anne Tolley virtually declaring war on the education sector and lying to Parliament
  • Paula ‘Basher’ Bennett’s breach of the Privacy Act in her attack on single mothers who dared to question her cutting of a programme that she herself used to upskill to get off the DPB.
  • The PEDA affair, which seems to have involved Bennett, Georgina te Heuheu, and English
  • Maurice Williamson’s offensive ‘jokes’
  • Tim Groser getting drunk and causing a scene on a flight during a diplomatic trip
  • Gerry Brownlee’s attempts to mislead the public over Schedule 4
  • Nick Smith’s attempts to mislead the public over just about everything he has touched
  • Murray McCully’s failure to act on Andy Haden’s racist claims
  • Judith Collins’ attack on the Police Commissioner
  • John Key’s ‘blind trust’

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.

18 comments on “Key’s culture of impunity ”

  1. Herodotus 1

    yet again this site continues its attack on PH, yet very little of the attention has been directed towatrds those at the head of TVNZ, I wonder if this is only a political attck to remove PH and lacking principles as to who was issueing the orders and trying to change a culture that has been there within NVNZ for quite some time.
    Many of this list could be interchanged with Labour Mp’s from the previous regime, so until blind partisan us vs them conituals. Doing something FOR the improvement of NZ and its citizens we will be left swimming in the muck left by a crap Nat a crap Lab led govts, whose only concern is the continuation of power. Remember the Key brand ios no dirrerect than the Clark brand, infact Key may have copied Helens tactics of distancing herself from the dirt, and why not it is a great tactic that only a full wound not follow.

    • Marty G 1.1

      actually, the post criticises the lack of action on TVNZ’s leadership.

      you’ve got to read to the bottom.

      eddie, dead right. The way Key has defended Bennett’s actions, for instance, has given licence to every angry rightwinger to take it out on beneficiaries.

      • Herodotus 1.1.1

        Marty- so why will the masters of NZTV remain untouched and be allowed to manipulate out of sight and let the puppet take all the heat?
        As stated was PH given free reign without boundaries or even worse was given instructions that “All publicity is good publicity” and to go for it.
        Are these the same execs that “used” NZ on Air money usde for the olympic bid (All care and no responsibility + a big fat check to go with this) ?

        • bbfloyd

          H.. your frantic shifting around is getting a bit dizzying.. what is it that’s missing in you that drives you to make an ass of yourself repeatedly simply to enable yourself to continue these mindless attacks on anyone who criticizes your beloved leader?

          don’t you realise how transparent you are yet?

          • felix

            Crikey, you actually read that gibberish? I gave up trying to decipher Hero’s comments after about the 2nd or 3rd one I ever saw. Scroll scroll scroll….

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Apart from whatever Richard Worth did, Key has not enforced a single standard of ethical or professional behaviour on his ministers.

    And what exactly did Richard Worth do? I missed that bulletin. Anyone the wiser now?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Nope, apparently it’s “not in the public’s interest” as to why one of our MPs was fired.

  3. stever 3

    Not that it would be welcome, but I’d expect that in the next survey of corruption around the world NZ won’t come out near the top like it always seems to.

    This list is appalling and brings shame on us all for not doing more to make the government account for itself.

    It’s hard to see how a country with a government that behaves in these ways can expect to be thought highly of in international circles with regard to corruption.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Only Blinglish’s rort would come close to knocking the corruption ranking down. That ranking has very little to do with the top layers of government (at least in NZ), it’s more about the rest of society like cops asking for bribes, corporate kickbacks etc.

      • Exactly! I tend to spend a day or so swallowing bile and monitoring my blood pressure when these “corruption rankings” come out. That is precisely what they measure.

        In a Western democracy like Australia or NZ you’re not going to get anywhere if you slip a $50 note into a police officer’s palm when you hand him your licence. But that same officer, if he arrests you, is likely to Taser you 13 times, pepper spray you while off duty when involved in an argument and so on.

        These sort sof incidents, together with more serious things such as lying under oath, planting evidence and suborning perjury from witnesses are what’s commonly called noble corruption. It’s not measured by these stupid surveys and yet it’s rampant – not just in the police but throughout all tiers of government.

        New Zealand needs and independent anti-corruption commission to investigate most of the things on Eddie’s list (not inappropriate jokes or alleged drunkeness, obviously) as well as the culture that exists within other levels of power.

  4. tc 4

    Agree that it’s not a very flattering list for any gov’t seeking to be held accountable on transparency/governance/public accountability/competancy however this is a Corpratocracy not a government.

    Sideshow is enforcing corporate governance which roughly goes if you can get away with it, go for it, if you get caught we’ve got some spin and diversions ready in that event.

    NACT aren’t interested in good government just in ‘lowering taxes, brutalising the minorities and ruling you like a king..” Now that’s paraphrasing Krusty from the simpsons episode where he fraudulently becomes mayor of springfield, check it out, just substitute Sideshow John for Krusty.

    • Bright Red 4.1

      Funnily enough, that’s actually a quote from Sideshow Bob:

      “Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king”

  5. Bored 5

    Actually, Key did not repeat NOT do it. Nothing. Anything. He just does not “do”. Get real, he does not “do”, has no “culture” and as far as “impunity” goes he’s got plenty. Gets that from not doing anything…..

  6. tc 6

    Thanks BR….my ageing memory deserves a position in cabinet….where I can selectively recall whatever I like.

  7. I remember writing the day after the last election that John Key was going to be the “Tillerman,” the Tillerman who would till the soil to plant the seeds for the next gereration of discontent in New Zealand.

    Trouble is with John Key and his ilk is they have no respect for the worker of this country yet they expect the worker to not only respect them, but to work hard to make New Zealand the country they want to live in and bring up their families in.

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