At a meeting in Kerikeri last year with a business leader, in the presence of journalist Greg Robertson, National Leader John Key said ‘we would love to see wages drop‘.
When this story broke last week, the political commentators were naturally cautious. It is an extraordinary quote. Not because a National leader would think wages should fall, everyone knows rightwing parties favour lower wages for workers and higher profits, but because a National leader would let himself be caught on tape saying it. This quote is the single most important public statement by a National politician in many years. Because of this, the political commentators erred on the side of believing the report to be false.
But their suspicion should have been raised by National’s multiple and contradictory defences of the quote ‘he never said that’, ‘he was joking’, ‘he was talking about Australia’, ‘he is misquoted’. All of which amount to an unwarranted attack on Mr Robertson, an experienced and respected reporter.
Strangely, the political commentary not only accepted these excuses at face value (can you imagine them doing that over Owen Glenn?) but, now, Tracy Watkins has invented an entirely new excuse for National: it was ‘a slip of the tongue‘. Watkins needs to realise her job is not to invent new excuses for Key. At no point has National said that what came out of Key’s mouth was not his intended words, it has only offered explanations for the resulting quote that don’t stack up. There is no slip of the tongue. All evidence anyone has seen is that Key meant what he said about New Zealand wages, and was quoted correctly in context.
Key says he would love to see your wages drop.
It is time the political commentators examine this issue properly.