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Slippery John: trainwreck on Morning Report

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, March 6th, 2008 - 31 comments
Categories: flip-flop, john key, slippery - Tags: , ,

Bill English must just be sitting there in his office cringing as he listens to interviews like these.

Sean Plunket spoke to Slippery John this morning about his latest policy flip-flops. It was a trainwreck. Have a listen – the text below is just a short excerpt.

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Presenter: Is your policy today to follow the current law?
John Key: Well the policy is as I just outlined to you.
Presenter: Okay, which was on Monday it was, we’re going to follow the current law and not change it.
John Key: Well look, you know Sean, you know, from time to time there will always be a need to update what’s happening in the world, I mean I think internationally there’s been a view that strategic assets…
Presenter: No, no, no, I know all that, I’m trying to figure out what your policy is, not your view on, you know, what eddies are likely…
John Key: Well the policy, the policy is as I’ve outlined today, which is 50, if there’s, we want to see majority control held for strategic assets in New Zealand in New Zealand hands.
Presenter: And would you seek to change regulations to clarify that?
John Key: Yes.
Presenter: Which is different from your policy position on Monday isn’t it?
John Key: Well policies evolve, and as I said to you, the whole area of strategic assets is something that is worthy…
Presenter: Yeah okay, but you’ve got a different policy position today than you had on Monday, is that right?
John Key: Well the, the whole point is we haven’t rolled out every single policy…
Presenter: It’s easy, just a yes or no.
John Key: Well, of course it’s different in the sense that we hadn’t articulated that in the past…

31 comments on “Slippery John: trainwreck on Morning Report”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Looks like more traing in how to handle media questions is definitely in order

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    I think knowing what your answer is would be the first lesson.

  3. insider 3

    The lesson is stop making up policy as you go. It’s about discipline. IF you are not certain, don’t answer or say you don’t know the detail.

    AIA could have been dealt with by saying the govt has changed the rules without telling anyone, that’s a bad look, they are still working out what this new rule means so no-one has certainty, another example of bad governance etc.

  4. I’ve gotta say the “feign irritation” trick is definitely in play here.

  5. the sprout 5

    poor Bill, playing second fiddle to such a klutz.

    “The lesson is stop making up policy as you go… IF you are not certain, don’t answer or say you don’t know the detail.”

    you’re absolutely right insider, but Key’s problem is that if he took your advice it would become even more appararent just how out of his depth Key really is. and he’s running out of time to bone-up on all the stuff he should’ve been learning well before now.

    now the media can smell his blood. obviously APN’s a tame poodle, but some of their competitors will happily eviscerate Key with the added bonus of further destroying APN’s cedibility.

  6. Steve Pierson 6

    Robinsod. See I think Key is actually angry. I don’t think he expects to be questioned like this, he finds it personally insulting for mere journalists to hassle him.

  7. out of bed 7

    Poor Bill, a competent politician takes the Nats to the dizzy heights of twenty something percent
    And slippery John, I don’t know what day of the week it is, Key is up in the 50’s
    He must be sooo pissed

  8. mike 8

    “And slippery John, I don’t know what day of the week it is, Key is up in the 50’s
    He must be sooo pissed”

    Says a lot about poor old Helen and co in the low 30’s too…

  9. Yeah Mike – it says National’s five year smear campaign is finally paying dividends. Pity all their support is so shallow. I think we’ll see it “slip” away pretty quickly…

  10. out of bed 10

    “Helen and co” are only 3 to 4% down on the 2005 election result what are you on ?

  11. pohutukawa kid 11

    Methinks I see some cracks appearing in the carefully constructed facade!

  12. the sprout 12

    you bet pohutakawa, and the cracks are bleeding red like the undersides of your bark

  13. mike 13

    Its all turning pear shaped for Sullen as well.
    9 years with head in trough and now the kittys empty. English is going to have a ball…http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10496497

  14. the sprout 14

    “the kitty’s empty”?

    weren’t the RWNJs only just sqealing about the supposedly enormous surpluses this government was generating? mike you seem to have Key Memory Syndrome

  15. mike 15

    Yes but when you spend like a drunken sailor as Sullen has it does not go far.

    Will he now break one of his own “4 rules” on tax cuts as he will certainly need to borrow for any meaningful cuts?

  16. the sprout 16

    well i would hope any plans of a tax cut were cancelled – that would be the prudent thing to do

  17. higherstandard 17

    Ant chance of some reasoned debate today or are we just going to spit bile at each other ?

  18. BeShakey 18

    Unless one of the parties was planning on funding tax cuts from the Cullen fund (did I miss that press release) today’s results don’t mean a lot. It might make it harder for the Nats to say that the government is rolling in money, but that was misleading anyway. The money that is really available for spending is down, but not down so dramatically as to pull tax cuts off the agenda.

  19. highstandard 19


    I think we need to ask how those in charge of forecasting for the respective funds managed to be so far out – 20% down on forecast. I don’t think this kind of forecasting error can provide any confidence to whomever is in government.

  20. andy 20

    HS, on surplus.

    Read the article in the Herald:


    Have you not noticed that global markets have not had a good quater! An the Cullen Fund ROI is part of the surplus! So projected earnings have changed, bet your investment landscape has changed also?

  21. highstandard 21


    I think you’re reaching a bit.

    There’s a difference between a cautious surplus and a gigantic warchest for election year.

    My basic question however still stands why can’t we have persons of a higher calibre or hold the incumbents more accountable in the public service.

    My question about Judith still stands I haven’t seen or heard anything from hear for an age.

    And I sure even ancient would agree that he gorges on his crapulence at times as do we all.

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    Hi all. The forecasts were indeed well out – but no one can predict something such as the US subprime collapse (well some people do, and they must make a killing). this caused a downturn in international financial markets, and impacted New Zeland’s exposed portfolios – primarily the ACC, EQC and Cullen Retirement funds. A drop in them of a few percentage points equates to some fair dosh. As they say, a billion here, a billion there, and soon you’re talking about some real money! 😉 I think EQC is about $60bn on thereabouts.

    I don’t think it’s an indictment of Treasury, nor is it something that will affect day-to-day spending.

    I think it will instead show why taking a prudent line with government spending is important.

    It also brings out ill-informed comments from people such as mike, who clearly have no idea how this works. It’s not like the government has a savings account that Cullen has blown on shoes and candy.

  23. r0b 23

    “Key Memory Syndrome” – that’s a keeper!

  24. Phil 24

    That forecasting error is pretty much all the result of the spanking that financial markets have taken – something which no-one was in a million years ever going to accurately forecast…

    But anyway, the actual cashflow (which is far far more important for determining if money for tax cuts is available) is still running at $3.1 bln.

  25. andy 25


    I fell for HigherStandards bait and switch of topic, my comment is in moderation.

    This is a similar story to the crab pot story, Key should be on solid ground here. The Nats have had the policy retreat and its not like the AIA deal was a suprise (the govt reaction was though), he should have been all over cullen on this issue but has turned the spot light on himself. He does seem to get grumpy when pushed. Note to JK, just say ‘I don’t have the facts in front of me’….

  26. gobsmacked 26

    Breaking news … a Bill English press release:

    “National is appalled to learn that funds have been openly invested in share markets, as we had not noticed this before. We have also just discovered that, according to experts talking on the telly before the sports news, these markets can go down as well as up. It is a disgrace that Michael Cullen has alllowed markets to fluctuate in this way, and we demand immediate intervention to control the global marketplace. Under National, funds for the long-term benefit of New Zealanders will be invested under the mattress.”

  27. r0b 27

    Ant chance of some reasoned debate today or are we just going to spit bile at each other ?

    You puzzle me HS. You’ve been around for a wee while, and I had you down as a simple bile spitting troll – eg:

    please as your esteemed Deputy Leader (Gollum) stated quite rightly he is a rich prick

    Ancient perhaps you are guilty of gorging on your own crapulence.

    Is Judith still alive I thought she died a couple of years ago

    …and so on. But recently there is a new found desire to raise standards and encourage reasoned debate? Good For You I say, I’ll support those goals 100%, but I’m just wondering why the change of heart on your part?

  28. r0b 28

    I think we need to ask how those in charge of forecasting for the respective funds managed to be so far out – 20% down on forecast. I don’t think this kind of forecasting error can provide any confidence to whomever is in government

    Exactly! Treasury has a history of naff forecasts. So Cullen plays it safe by running a cautious surplus to allow for errors and unforeseen contingencies.

    And for this he has copped nothing but incredible grief from most of the media (and truly hysterical ranting from the Kiwiblog Right) about “tax cuts now!”. Sigh. What is a Minister of Finance to do?

  29. mike 29

    “BS:The money that is really available for spending is down, but not down so dramatically as to pull tax cuts off the agenda.”

    So what you are saying is that there is less money this year than previous yeas but as its election year Labour can still offer tax cuts for the first time. Poor Old Cullen hows he going to sell this one?

  30. r0b 30

    That forecasting error is pretty much all the result of the spanking that financial markets have taken – something which no-one was in a million years ever going to accurately forecast

    Phil – anyone paying attention knew this spanking was coming. I’ve been watching it unfold for a couple of years. For just a few examples, see predictions of:

    Housing collapse, August 2006

    Impending Global Financial Crisis, July 2007

    Widespread crash, August 2007

    America’s banking system crash, January 2008

    It’s going to get worse, January 2008:

  31. Matthew Pilott 31

    Mike, what we’re saying is that the money gone isn’t spending money.

    Q: If you own a house and it decreases in value by $50,000, would you need a loan to cover the loss?

    Think carefuly mike.

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