Should he have stayed or come home?

Written By: - Date published: 2:47 pm, May 8th, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: families, military - Tags: , , ,

Today, all the Herald’s political commentators talk about Key’s decision to come back from his Middle East trip after the ANZAC Day helicopter crash. The Sprout’s already cited approvingly the criticism of John Langley, a businessman who was on the tour of the Gulf Co-operation Council countries ahead of the FTA signing. Langley said that Key should have put trade interests ahead of being in New Zealand for the funerals.

My immediate impression was that it said more about the values of New Zealand’s capitalist class than anything else. There is a normal expectation that the Prime Minister will fulfill a leadership role after a national disaster – and the mostly deadly incident involving Defence personnel in years if not decades occurring on ANZAC Day is definitely on of those. As tempting as if may be to jump on with any and all criticism of an awful Prime Minister, I know that I would have been damning of Key if he had chosen to remain on a trade mission rather than come back, and one can’t have these things both ways.

But my opinion is reversed by the revelation that Key’s return to New Zealand meant Tim Groser had to stay on to head the trade delegation despite the death of his mother. If returning for the airmen’s funerals was a right and human thing to do then surely letting Groser be there for his own mother’s funeral would have been even more so. Someone had to stay to stay to lead the delegation. I think it would have been far better for Groser to be allowed to come home and Key stay with the delegation. Fran O’Sullivan pointedly makes a similar argument:

“We don’t know whether Key’s PR advisers even considered whether in all the circumstances it might have been best to send Trade Minister Tim Groser back to NZ (his mother died during the mission) and deputy Acting Prime Minister Bill English to front in his place at the dead airmen’s service.”

I know there would have been disappointment at the PM’s absence from the airmen’s funerals but I think Kiwis would have thought it more appropriate for Key to remain in the Gulf so Groser could have been with his family.

27 comments on “Should he have stayed or come home?”

  1. freedom 1

    When i first heard that comment about Groser’s Mum i admit i thought someone was making up bad taste porkies. Now we now the truth i believe SlinKey should definitely had stayed where he was and left the deputy PM to carry out the duties of office at the funerals and the bereavement ceremonies

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    The memory of the airmen who died could also be served by having an open and thorough inquiry. The Airforce is used to having a coverup for these things, see the last time a pilot was killed. And the way the defence force handles these things was pretty obvious in the Berryman bridge fiasco

  3. Craig Glen Eden 3

    I to thought that the bit about Tim Grossers Mum was perhaps just a bit of poor taste gossip from the last post on this issue, I commented in response to that post that I thought Key had made the right decision in coming home for the servicemen funeral UNLESS Tim Grossers Mum had indeed past away.
    In which case Key should have stayed and English could have represented the government at the funerals.

    My thoughts go out to Tim, no man or woman should have to miss or have delayed their family members funeral for political reasons such as we have here.

    I have never thought highly of John Key the man as apposed to his politics ( which I despise ) but their is no way I have any respect for him as a person now.
    Personally I can hardly believe you could do this to another human let alone one of your close team. How could any one vote for Key in the future knowing he treats people like this. So much for family values aye?

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    I’m with you Marty. I thought Langley’s criticism was a whinge.I still do. I actually thought it was better to leave Groser and send home Key, as Groser is by far the more adept negotiator.

    But in lihgt of the fact Groser’s mother passed away (and my deepest sympathies go to Tim and his family) it now looks selfish in excelsius.

  5. Irascible 5

    Key’s return to NZ was not because of a “national disaster” but because of a tragic accident that occurred. I would have thought Key’s return more appropriate if he’d come back for an event on a scale of Tangiwai. To return for a tragic accident and leave Groser, who’d experienced a deep personal tragedy, to hold the fort stinks of self-serving opportunism and a lack of sympathy.
    Key should have sent Groser home and told Blinglish to represent the NACT government and carried on working for the country.
    Langley’s commentary has been manipulated by the spin meisters to favour Key’s self serving behaviour.

  6. outofbed 6

    Says as much about Groser as anybody else. Who amongst us wouldn”t have flown directly home?
    What is more important than that?

  7. Irascible 7

    Fran O’Sullivan demonstrates two things in today’s Herald. One she is a poor journalist – she could’nt name Cognition Education correctly. She refers to it as Cognitive Education throughout. Then she can’t name Stewart Gorman correctly – referring to him a Germman.
    Thenn she rescues herself with this – a perfect justification for Langley’s comments about Key’s behaviour.

    “But for him (Gorman) to go on and claim that the delegation was an “outstanding success” and had “really put New Zealand on the map” so far as the Gulf Co-operation Council countries were concerned was complete nonsense.

    Particularly when the next day’s newspapers quoted other mission members speaking frankly of the trip being like a “cross between the Beverly Hillbillies and speed dating”, with the mission being embarrassingly late to meetings – some of which were cancelled after the PM bowed out.

    Public opinion is relatively evenly split on whether Key should have come home or stayed for the mission.

    We don’t know whether Key’s PR advisers even considered whether in all the circumstances it might have been best to send Trade Minister Tim Groser back to NZ (his mother died during the mission) and deputy Acting Prime Minister Bill English to front in his place at the dead airmen’s service.

    Grumpy business people have also taken some stick for allegedly putting Mammon over simple humanity.

    But what is generally not publicly recognised is that one of the reasons why business people join trail-blazing New Zealand trade missions is to demonstrate to the other nations that their Prime Minister has huge clout and support from leading Kiwi players.”

    The revelation that the delegation got to meetings late and that once Key had deserted his post others were cancelled because the delegation had lost face in the region should put the pro-Key spin to bed.

  8. MikeG 8

    A couple of my thoughts:
    1. While the helicopter crash was a tragic accident, it was not while being deployed on an overseas mission, so in my mind not so different than any other work related death.
    2. Surely the Minister of Defence would have been an appropriate stand-in for the PM at the funerals.

  9. Anne 9

    The revelation that Tim Groser was unable to return for his mother’s funeral told me what I had suspected all along. Key was really in it for the glory and the photo ops. If he had been genuine he could have explained the circumstances and nobody – least of all the killed airmen’s families – would have expected him to return.

  10. QoT 10

    I think it’s very fair to say Key would have come under criticism whether he stayed or came back to NZ. But I cannot think anyone could have criticised him* for saying “I wish I could be there for the funeral of our servicemen, but I was not going to make Tim feel like he had to miss his mother’s funeral and I know the Deputy PM/Minister of Defence will be there in my stead”.

    *Okay, maybe a military-fanatic like Ron Mark?

  11. sean14 11

    And the Oscar for damned by The Standard if he does, and damned by The Standard if he doesn’t, goes to… John Key!

  12. deemac 12

    the whole reason for cabinet government is so the PM does not have to do everything themselves.It was a job for the Defence Minister.
    The only justification for the PM to return from abroad would be something much more significant, eg if they’d been killed by terrorist action. Though even then you could argue that “business as usual” is the best reaction.

  13. Key is sucking up to the yanks, militarism and all. US FTA is worth a lot more than FTA with a few US oil rich client states in the ME. Quid pro quo is NZ fights shoulder to shoulder with No 1 terrorists. US Generals visiting to inspect the ranks. US has got almost all East European countries to send troops to Afpak. Even Mongolia ffs. Key electioneering in Afghanistan to justify keeping SAS there. Of course he had to go to the funeral of the ANZAC Three, after all he ‘knew’ the poor sods and we are rebuilding our national identity around celebrating fighting as deputy dogs for Uncle Sam. He’s still fooling most of us most of the time.

  14. pseudopanax 14

    Oh dear ShonKey…

    That, and without being too critical, is a subhuman decision.
    My heart goes out to Groser, which is no normal event, and a sad indictment of Key’s decision.
    That he would rather camwhore for the media, than have the good grace and dignity to allow one of his high ranking ministers to attend his mother’s funeral appalls me. Such a selfish act.

    English would have been ample support at the funeral for the airmen.

    I’m not normally terribly impressed with Key, but I’m certainly not normally this critical either.
    For shame, John.

  15. graham 15

    The truth is that is dosent matter what you think.No one here is ever going to vote national so we dont give a toss what you think.
    But heres a tip defending DPB moms and slaging of john key for going to a funeral for Air force personal is not going to get you votes

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      “No one here is ever going to vote national so we dont give a toss what you think.”

      And yet you keep coming back.

      And why on earth should anyone write blog posts with an eye to ‘getting votes’ from the mythical middle. You’d end up with a blog that looks like National’s.

    • felix 15.2

      Where are you from, graham?

  16. Alexandra 16

    “But heres a tip defending DPB moms and slaging of john key for going to a funeral for Air force personal is not going to get you votes.”

    Have you read the threads graham??? This post does not relate to “DPB mums” you sexist moron and most threads are supporting Key going to the funeral, but not at the price of Grosser not being able to return home on the death of his mum.” Any how, I wish all the mothers your associated with a particularly a Happy Mothers Day!

    • graham 16.1

      DPB refers to the attacks on paula bennet(ms fuller)
      why does a tory come here ?
      I must confess it is a bit like going to a freak show here if middle new zealand was to see what you guys pubblish every day national would be in power for a very long time

      • Craig Glen Eden 16.1.1

        Thank God you don’t represent or speak for so called middle NZers Graham.

        As to where does Graham come from? One clue, he can see Russia from his house.

  17. graham 17

    no i see lovley green grass, center pivots,and lovely brown cows
    and besides if this place represents middle nz why is helen in new york?

  18. randal 18

    the thing is Rambo Key would have done anything rather being trapped in dubai with hooton running after him yap yapping and no chance for escape.

    • Pascal's bookie 18.1

      I’m pretty sure being stuck in a helicopter with hoots is against the geneva conventions.

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