Rhetoric: on donations to Winston Peters, John Key 2008:
“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.
“Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.”
Reality: on donations to John Banks, John Key 2012:
John Key stands by Banks on Dotcom donations
Prime Minister John Key says calls for him to stand aside his minister outside Cabinet John Banks are a “political sideshow”. …
As prime minister Key was only required to have confidence in his minister. “I have to believe what they tell me or how can I possibly enjoy their confidence? I’ve dealt with John a lot over the last couple of years and I’ve found him to be honest.
“If somebody thinks that John Banks isn’t telling the truth, they have a very simple remedy – they go to the police.” …
“I think that’s a political sideshow, frankly. A number of legal experts have opined that he may well have complied with the law.”
Update this morning – another revealing quote from Key:
Asked if he was happy for ministers to act unethically as long as they complied with the law, Mr Key said: “There is quite a wide definition of ethics … The test I have to apply is the law.”
Wrong. Key is required to hold ministers to the “highest ethical standards”. Here’s what the Cabinet Manual has to say on the matter:
In all these roles and at all times, Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.
Key is the kind of politician that gives politics a bad name.