Well, John Key took my advice and gave a speech at APEC different from the pro forma MFAT-written speech that might have been expected. Unfortunately, it’s still all style and no substance, all bark but no bite.
Key is scathing of his fellow money-men for taking on more and more risk; he accuses them of being reckless. He says there needs to be more regulation of these “reckless” money-men (although one has to wonder how long he has believed these businesses are behaving badly, given he has most of his money invested in financiers Merrill Lynch).
So far, so good. He’s saying what the Left has been saying all along, and the Right is now conceding – the financiers are greedy and neoliberal de-regulation has permitted them to gamble too much with the result that the rest of us have ended up carrying the can for the problem they created (surprising he never said it during the campaign when he was making capital off his finance experience).
But, unfortunately, this is where he stops, whereas it should be where he is just beginning. He calls for regulation but offers no substantive suggestions for what regulation is needed; says reform is needed but not what reform that should be. Which means he’s not actually saying anything; it’s just empty bluster. In a disturbing continuation of the fluffiness that characterised his time as Opposition Leader, Key identifies a widely recognised problem and then says ‘we need to do something about that’. Real leadership is about providing solutions. So far we’ve seen none of that from Key.
This was Key’s first major test; his chance to make an impact on the international stage. He gets a partial credit for identifying the problem, and a bonus mark for rhetorical style, but on substance, the important stuff, he fails badly.