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Rhetoric and reality: Key’s principles

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, May 1st, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, john banks, john key - Tags: , ,

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.

42 comments on “Rhetoric and reality: Key’s principles ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    “Higher standards”–no. JK has classic sociopathic selective memory, wavering between total recall and don’t recall depending on the issue e.g. his personal shareholdings and possible conflicts of interest.

    The ’81 tour is still raised in regards to the prime minister because his “don’t recall” whether he was pro or anti tour while at University- (there were not many if any neutrals) is such an obvious example of bs that people of his age and older can relate to.

  2. Carol 2

    And even John Armstrong, usually more slanted to supporting the Nats & Jonkey, is saying something pretty similar to Anthony, albeit with one or two sideswipes at Clark and Labour:


    Such a “I won’t sack him until I have to” position was the one that prime ministers took before Helen Clark’s time in the job. Under her regime, there was less tolerance of ministerial misdemeanour. That was accompanied by a greater willingness to reinstate ministers after they had served a period of penance on Parliament’s backbenches.

    Key claims to be applying an even tougher regime when it comes to ministerial standards even though the Cabinet Manual already stipulates that ministers have to behave in a manner that “upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards”.
    Banks may be found to not have broken the law. But he is hardly upholding the spirit of the law – something that is surely obligatory for an MP, let alone a minister.

  3. Key is the kind of politician that gives politics a bad name.

    Should that be “politicians are the kind of politician that gives politics a bad name”?

    There’s a lot of comparative detail here, summarised:

    While disliking both sets of actions, I point out that Peters was actually the Foreign Affairs Minister when he was lobbying on behalf of Glenn, and his lawyer received the money while he was Minister.

    Banks was a private individual at the time he lobbied.

    Labour’s position was that Peters did nothing wrong with lobbying for Glenn while not disclosing he had donated $100,000 to pay Winston’s legal fees – so their outrage over Banks is totally fake.

    (More on Banks)

    Political commentators in glasshouses have to be particularly careful with stones.

    For the record, I have never been a fan of nor supported either Peters or Banks.

    • Politics is a dirty business no matter who you are.

      It’s facts like that Pete that’ll get these guys all excited. Que “You don’t know what you’re talking about/Kiwiblog is just National Spin/Peters was never convicted” etc etc.

      Oh yeah – I have never been a fan of nor supported either Peters or Banks. For the record…

      Though I am willing to admit that Key should stay consistent (as the left should re: Peters) and stand down Banks the same way he called for Labour to stand down Peters.

    • Te Reo Putake 3.2

      “For the record, I have never been a fan of nor supported either Peters or Banks.”
      You lie, Pete. You’ve been openly supporting Banks here, at the sewer and on your own site since the story broke. Just another lying Tory apologist.

      • Pete George 3.2.1

        You’re either mistaken or you’re the one who’s lying. I haven’t supported Banks on this, and I note you have not substantiated what appears to be an attempt at smearing. Aren’t baseless accusations against moderator’s rules here?

        I may have supported due process, and I’ve pointed out (as many others have) that there is no proof that Banks thanked Dotcom for a donation, but I’ve never been a supporter of Banks and I’d be quite happy to see Banks disappear from politics.

        • Te Reo Putake

          Yeah, keep lying, Tory Pete. You’ve managed to convince one other dull witted righty, the conformist Contrarian, so you must be winning the argument, aye.

          • Pete George

            Tēnā rūkahu tēnā. Te kōrero parau?

            • TheContrarian

              Pointing out the Standard doesn’t play by it’s own rules is ‘righty’?

              Or is stating “that Key should stay consistent (as the left should re: Peters) and stand down Banks the same way he called for Labour to stand down Peters.” ‘righty’

              You’ll have to be more specific.

              • It looks like it’s TRP’s turn to an old repeating lie trick, I guess it’s either to try to annoy, provoke or smear, but it’s a bit old hat. All it does is reflect on her/him.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  ““For the record, I have never been a fan of nor supported either Peters or Banks.”
                  You lie, Pete. You’ve been openly supporting Banks here, at the sewer and on your own site since the story broke. Just another lying Tory apologist.”
                  Care to try and prove that statement wrong, pusillanimous Pete? So far all you’ve done is dissemble, when the truth is you have been backing Banks to the hilt at those three sites.

                  • Nonsensical, I can’t prove something I haven’t done.

                    You’re the one trying to weasel your way out of backing up your accusations. The fact you aren’t even attempting to prove your accusations says a lot.

              • Te Reo Putake

                No, it’s specifically you that’s right wing, Contrarian. Nothing to do with the Standard, or those unrelated references. It’s just the way you are. Perhaps you just haven’t realised it, yet?

                • Please substantiate what makes me right wing or retract it.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    Your politics makes you right wing. You might also have a look at your comments here or you could visit your own website (somebody has to, I guess). All solid evidence of your conservative political leanings.
                    If you are still confused about where you sit, politically, you could try the test at the political compass. Let us know how you get on.

                    • Haha, the political compass, last time I tried that I was close to Greens and where David Cunliffe thinks he is (as indicated on Vote Char last year).

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      For the political compass to be of any use, you have answer the questions truthfully, Pete. I think that explains your strange result.
                      I’m just between Mandela and Ghandi, BTW. And I so wanted to be next to Uncle Joe and Uncle Ho, Dammit!

                    • felix

                      I don’t think it’s that inconceivable for you to share some views with the Greens, Pete.

                      I think you probably have a clash of personalities with the Greens, or a clash of style, but most people who dig into the Greens’ policy positions find they have more in common than they expected.

                    • McFlock

                      I’m sure Pete did answer truthfully.
                      His innate instinct is to avoid “strongly” agreeing or disagreeing with anything. Given that the engine is probably a simple lykert scale of some description, that would be a bias towards the centre. And then it comes down to an inclination to agree mildly vs the left/right orientation of each question.
                      If there were more than a basic lykert behind the scenes, one of the compass results would be along the lines of “political dissonance: holds contradictory opinions” 

                    • felix, I’m not surprised I’m close to the Greens in some ways, I’ve voted for them and for Green candidates. Quite a few of their ideas and principles are very common sense and easy to support. UF and Greens have more than a few policies in common. It’s not surprising Labour take on some of their policies.

                      I differ from them on some of their more socialist and anti-business and anti-development ideas, and I think some of their suggested solutions are impractical and idealistic.

                      But I’ve always supported having a significant Green presence in parliament and still do. I’m more inclined towards Normanish Green than Tureian Green, and far more towards Genterish Green than Hughesian Green.

                      Green’s current size seems about right to me until they get some experience in the realities of being in Government. There’s a risk that if Labour keep stuffing around like they have been then Greens might get too much influence in power too soon.

                  • Tiger Mountain

                    @ contrarian: If you want to waffle on and be contrary to showcase your amazing intellect and think more people may want to read your blog accordingly good luck to you.

                    Your shotgun scatter “plague on all of ’em” approach puts you firmly in the right wing camp.

                    • I have done the compass and never got a right wing answer out of it. But to satisfy you Te Reo Putake I have done it again and am firmly in the centre of the green “libertarian/left” box between Mandela and Dalai Lama.

                      So what part of my politics is right wing?

                      @Tiger Mountain:
                      “Your shotgun scatter “plague on all of ’em” approach puts you firmly in the right wing camp.”

                      How so?

                    • McFlock

                      How so? 
                      Because trying to agree with all principles = a complete lack of principle = “unprincipled”.
                      As far as I’ve seen, Left-wingers always have principles, though some of them may be completely wrong / unethical / drug-induced. 

                    • ‘Because trying to agree with all principles = a complete lack of principle = “unprincipled”.’

                      I don’t try to agree with all principles. I don’t need to try. Where was it I ever said I try to agree with all principles. Is it because I am not an ideologue?

                    • McFlock

                      meh. Whatever. Trying to DISagree with all principles = unprincipled, then.

        • mike e

          puerile git by supporting unbalanced follicles you are supporting the paties you enter coalition with and that include peters and banks .

  4. felix 4

    As Pascal’s bookie said on another thread, Keith Ng nails it

    Legality is not the issue here. John Key isn’t deciding whether to throw him in jail, but whether he wants this guy as a minister.

  5. prism 5

    I am reminded of Groucho Marx’s quote and got it from the The Quotations Page.

    Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.
    Groucho Marx US comedian with Marx Brothers (1890 – 1977)

    Key probably hasn’t ever heard these words as a joke. He’ll just go on presenting himself as relaxed about everything. Like a bean bag.

  6. Flip Flop

    Wasn’t that National’s favourite term between 2005 and 2008?

  7. tracey 7

    “I’ve dealt with John a lot over the last couple of years and I’ve found him to be honest.”

    I think that tells us all we need to know about the Pm’s judgment or standard for honesty.

  8. bad12 8

    Principles and Slippery in the same breath???come on this is the bloke busily turning the office of Prime Minister of New Zealand into nothing more than the shack found on any used car lot anywhere in New Zealand,

    The only thing that’s a surprise from this Slippery lead National Government is that they havn’t got round to auctioning stuff off on TradeMe yet,

    Laissez faire dictates that if its saleable then sell it, if someone needs something,(like citizenship),then sell it to them,

    To the likes of Slippery and the neo-liberal capitalists ‘ethics’ is some form of transmittable disease which should be stamped out and the word removed from the lexicon…

  9. Blue 9

    One of the hallmarks of John Key as a politician is that he doesn’t really care about moral/ethical issues, he is all about financial and economic issues.

    If you can’t express it in dollars and cents, Key isn’t worried.

    That has been a good thing, in that he will never try to impose conversative moral laws on NZ (unless he were doing a deal to get something out of a support party). But it also means that when it comes to ethical issues he gets himself in deep shit because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    In 2008 he was trying to be the poster boy for ethics, but it didn’t suit him. All his protestations that he wouldn’t deal with Winston Peters and that he would hold his ministers to higher standards have left him in some awkward positions because he didn’t mean a word of it.

    Exhibit A – refusing to say why he sacked Richard Worth. Exhibit B – Completely overreacting by standing Coleman down for two bottles of wine. Exhibit C – trying to avoid sacking Nick Smith and not being able to say why he had changed his mind. Exhibit D – continuing to support Banks now.

    Key prefers to avoid this type of situation, and you can see why. His usual response involves fobbing off journos until they stop asking questions and move on to the next thing, and it has been a very successful strategy for him.

    He’s getting to the end of the usefulness of that one though. Honeymoon waning, etc.

  10. crashcart 10

    He got really pushed by the interviewer on 3’s morning show this morning. She didn’t just accept his fob off answers. She kept pushing. you could see he wasn’t use to someone not behaving as he wanted and didn’t know how to handle it. I really enjoyed it. All the right wingers I was watching it with were getting really angry at how disrespectful she was being to the PM.

  11. seeker 11

    I keep trying to find the Mark Sainsbury Close up interview he did with Key in Key’s kitchen, just before the 2008 election. Bronagh was there and Key was poaching Mark an egg or two. At the end of the clip Key said something to the effect that he had told his son that he may hear that he (Dad Key) tells lies but his son would know that this is untrue.

    I have never forgotten this completely volunteered comment as I thought it was strange that he needed to use his son as testimony that he does not lie. I then thought, methinks this man doth protest, not too much, but in such a way that we are in for a big helping of porkies.Can anyone else remember this oddity?

  12. freedom 12

    there are a slew of these images doing the rounds, highlighting the distance between reality and the PM’s public statements, but this one in particular puts the canyon of disparity into perspective

    • BLiP 12.1

      I think you might find that depiction to be one of the few times John Key has told the truth. So far as the privatisation legislation is concerned, there are no provisions for adjusting, preventing, monitoring the new owners subsequently on-selling some or all of the acquired assets. Last I heard, there weren’t even any provisions for when new-owners issue additional shares and the state has to maintain its percentage shareholding. There are no provisions.

      This is a better insight . . . http://youtu.be/rrPgK3bf9_4

  13. xtasy 13

    Oh, yeah, remember, remember, there were those days, where Key lambasted Helen Clark for not dealing with Peters, not sacking him or else, and he claimed so resolutely, if he were Prime Minister, Peters would have to step down.

    Now a few years later, what a radical change of tune we have. National is running the show, blue banners all over, a pampered leader who treated the public as convenient idiots in his first term, and now he is faced with Banksie being dodgy. Oh no, oh no, is it law, ethics or else, the Cabinet Manual, yes or no, but it is all different now, National does not sack or force ministers to stand down until matters are resolved.

    It is again: ONE law for us (Nats and ACT) and another for the rest, of course applied in the same way for the supporters of parties.

    What revelation now. Key is the Don Keypone, for sure, stepping it up in good old style, which ruled once Chicago in the days of prohibition and so forth. He still has his mates and supporters cling to him, all expecting to get the perks they want.

    NZ needs to put up the standards, wake up and finally start scrutinising this crap that goes on, but does anybody really care, apart from a few posters here!?

  14. Georgecom 14

    The only thing that Key needs to do, is, do what he says. The only words that need to be spoken are the ones Key himself stated.

    “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.”

    All we require of you Key is to follow your own demands of others.

    • vto 14.1

      If he did that he would almost be re-elected. If he wasn’t re-elected at least everyone would respect him. What is he is trying to achieve for himself?

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