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Tiring of it?

Written By: - Date published: 6:50 am, June 17th, 2009 - 52 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Duncan Garner said something interesting during the Mt Albert by-election special: “I’ll tell you why John Key came back from overseas… He came back to get the t-shirt that says ‘I’ve been Prime Minister’.

It marries up with what failed National Party candidate Paul Henry said yesterday: “I have a slight nagging fear in the back of my mind that maybe John Key is tiring of it just a little bit. Maybe the excitement of being Prime Minister and running a country is wearing a bit thin.”

Earlier this year Key told Noelle McCarthy he was surprised how much work there was to being PM, basically ‘I thought it would just be signing off on things but you actually have to make lots of decisions every day’.

Now, he’s annoyed that journalists think the public should know why one of their government’s ministers was fired. His cutsie shtick that worked so well in opposition isn’t working now. Even his smart-arse comments in Parliament aren’t coming off anymore.

I geninuely think he didn’t realise how tough the job would be and the standards of accountablility a government is expected to live up to.

The guy looks worn out and sick of the job despite the fact he’s only been in the job for seven months and spent a month of that on the beach in Hawaii.

52 comments on “Tiring of it? ”

  1. Kevin Welsh 1

    A bit of a worry when two of your cheerleaders won’t wave their pom poms.

  2. craig 2

    A bit like Obama really…


    “I am surprised compared to where I started, when we first announced for this race, by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time.

    You know, when I first started this race, Iraq was a central issue, but the economy appeared on the surface to still be relatively strong. There were underlying problems that I was seeing with health care for families and our education system and college affordability and so forth, but obviously, I didn’t anticipate the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

    I’m not saying the NZ PM has as big a job as Obama, but that it’s hard to judge exactly what a job’s like before you start it.

    Anyway I’d assume that with $50 million John Key doesn’t really need the money, and when he’s actually “tired of it”, “worn out” and “sick of it”, he’ll quit. But it’s hard to see him doing that at the moment, especially with the sort of popularity he has nationwide.

    • I’m not quite sure how you think those quotes from Obama have any comparison!

      • craig 2.1.1

        Well for a start, even Obama with all his amazing advisors didn’t anticipate the extent of the economic crisis (which is a world wide phenomena)….

        The only reason Key would be stressed out was if he did care about the people of NZ, and about doing a good job. If he really doesn’t care and just decided to be PM for the hell of it, what would there to be stressed about??

        John Key fired Richard Worth because he was doing a crappy job, bringing the government into disrepute, removing attention from more serious matters, being attacked by hacks from the left, and attacked by hacks from the right. Isn’t the fact that everybody wanted him fired good enough reason to fire him in politics?

        Anyway National doesn’t believe you should need a million excuses to fire someone remember – this is that policy in action. You fuck up and your gone. It’s a bit like their criminal justice / sentencing policies really – it’s supposed to be an incentive to everybody else. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but at least it’s consistant.

        • Rochelle Rees

          Obama was talking about how he was facing a number of challenges. John Key said he never expected the job to involve making decisions. I still don’t get how they are comparable.

          • craig

            You seriously believe John Key didn’t think he’d have to make decisions as PM? Oh, because some guy thinks he may have heard it on some radio show. Good one.

          • Maynard J

            Sure craig, because when people say things in real life we know they are not true, because people like craig on the interwebs say so. Good one.

  3. Great post 🙂

    ‘I thought it would just be signing off on things but you actually have to make lots of decisions every day’.

    What an incredible thing to say. He thought running a whole country wouldn’t mean making decisions?

    Eddie have you by any chance got a link for that quote?

    • Eddie 3.1

      I might be able to find it. He said it to Noelle back in Jan or Feb I think. I meant to post at the time on it but didn’t. Fortunately, RNZ keeps all their audio online now.

      • Eddie 3.1.1

        Damn. It looks like RNZ don’t have audio from the Summer Noelle programme. The interview was on the 19th of January

        • Anita

          So is it a quote? Or a paraphrase from your memory?

          Oddly enough the reason I was reading all the comments thoroughly was that I was hoping you had provided a source for the quote. It’s a great quote if it is a quote, and shouldn’t be in quote marks if it isn’t.

          • poptart

            I remember the quote from the time, was astounded by it.

            Also in Eddie’s defence, the quote was qualified with “basically”.

            Must be lonely there in the pendants’ corner Anita.

          • Anita


            Nah, there are heaps of pedants we have special meals every second Tuesday and critique the capitalisation on the menus 🙂

            If I was to paraphrase I would “John Key basically said that up was up and down was down and firing Worth was his prerogative and the media had no business questioning him” <— see, no quotes around the paraphrase, so it's clear it is a paraphrase not a quote.

          • Anita

            Nah, there are plenty of pendants we have dinner every second Tuesday and critique the capitalisation of the menu 🙂

            If I were to write a paraphrase I would do something like this “John basically said that the sun comes up and the sun goes down and its his prerogative to fire Ministers and the media’s got no business asking questions” <— see, no quotes around the paraphrase, it's clear it's a paraphrase not a quote.

            (Apologies if this is a duplicate comment, my first one seems to have been accepted and eaten by the abyss)

    • indiana 3.2

      …is there an expectation that decisions would solely be made by the PM in how the country is run? Is this how all previous PM’s have run our country?

  4. Zetetic 4

    This is the problem with choosing someone who’s in it for the glory, not to serve the public.

    Craig’s right that Key will just give up when he’s tired of it. No dedication to anything other than himself. He’s got PM on his CV. What more is there for him to keep him interested?

    • indiana 4.1

      …bugger! You’ve just worked out how the electorate votes…NZ voted for who wanted the glory the most!

  5. Bill 5

    But wasn’t this all clear from watching the result coverage on election night? I wasn’t the only one to remark that he was acting and looking like a wee school kid.

    He got the T-shirt, the brownie points, the wee gold star on his wall chart or whatever and was all puffed up as any eight year old might be….which might have been his age when he decided he wanted to be PM and all emotional and psychological development ceased?

    Think I’ve commented along similar lines some months back. So he’s tired. He’s looked that way for some time.

    When’s he going to stick up his hand for the toilet and bail?

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    I agree with you Eddie this bloke has no love of politics or indeed fortitude for the daily grind. His desire to be Prime Minister was nothing more than ego and rank opportunity
    Despite what some believe Politics is hard work if done properly, regardless of what party you stand for.
    While he liked the Title PM he thought he would run the Country like he was the CEO of NZ INC . A good example was his stance with the media over Worth
    “Im not saying why Worth went you should trust me I am the anointed Boss”

    His”Im so relaxed I was busy drinking and being in love at Uni Tells us heaps, mean while anyone with a political bone in their body had formed a position on the Spring Bok tour .
    I suspect this is also what really pisses English off. English knows the ropes and has done the hard yards then this little rich kid comes along and floats from cloud to cloud playing Corporate CEO.

    It cant be a happy club, many of the newbies went into positions that they have no qualifications or experience on the ground with. English must wake up in the morning plant his feet on the ground and think shit, I have to put up with that little prick telling me what to do again today.

    • Bill 6.1

      Maybe John was one of the dead rats?

      Now it’s a case of waiting for the digestive juices to do their work and turning him to shit, leaving the door open for…?

    • Sparo 6.2

      “Im not saying why Worth went you should trust me I am the anointed Boss’

      bears pointing out the contretemps of from whence the big Bossman dogma came those BSDs and corporate guys have – almost all I’m pretty sure 😉 — gone. Swept away, as we say.

      Oh no, I’m not about to say how his going would put him in like offset company. Far from it.. for one thing if a viable Opposition ever needed a ‘friend’ by way of recent exploits this would have to be it…

  7. Mr Key has little experience of the particular pressures associated with, for example, being a junior minister, never mind the extraordinary expectations attached to the role of PM. As Ms Clark showed, you need a combination of intelligence, command of detail, total application, political insight, and the ability never to let down your guard.

    Senior managerial roles in business are in many ways different. For example, the level of external, critical scrutiny is lower. Few senior business people have to explain themselves to their constituency on a daily basis, usually in the face of a hostile audience. Their authority is not subject to similar pressures. There is more frequent down time during which batteries can be re-charged. The range of issues for which one has responsibility, and for which one is held responsible, is likely to be smaller. There is no need to appear simultaneously commanding, accessible, democratic, interested, tolerant, firm of purpose and so on. No babies must be kissed.

    Mr Key has not completed the apprenticeship needed to be a successful senior politician, He may survive if, exceptionally, he is a very quick study, has excellent support, and is prepared to put in the effort. The question is now being posed: is he that exceptional person, or has he taken on too much? National MPs will now be asking that question quietly over their drinks. There is no crisis yet, but more slips and fumbles will exacerbate their concerns.

  8. Hilary 8

    Incidentally, Duncan Garner had a particularly nasty and unfair barb for former MP Marian Hobbs on TV3 news last night. She must have really got to him with her criticisms of the shallow NZ media in her valedictory speech.

    Key is a public figure so can challenge Garner if he chooses to..

  9. It’s interesting to contrast the way John Key and Bill English act in parliament during question time.

    Bill English is all serious, and answers the questions put to him in a serious and proper manner. Yes he sometimes adds in a few political barbs – about Labour’s unfunded commitments usually – but in general there are few shennanigans.

    In contrast, John Key seems to spend most of question time giggling and laughing and picking up random newspaper articles to quote from in response to questions that are often not particularly related to what he’s talking about. Sometimes he makes a good point, but in general one gets the feeling he’s just not taking the whole thing particularly seriously.

    The only exception to this was when the first questions about Richard Worth were put to him by Phil Goff. Perhaps more than anything else, it was his seriousness about that issue which made a lot of people go “heck, this is something pretty serious”.

    • Ianmac 9.1

      Too true Jarbury. And the questions asked of him seldom get an informed answer in the public forum -except in set pieces. Fluency 3/10. Conciseness 2/10. Illumination2/10. Grin 2008 9/10. Grin 2009 3/10.

  10. Ianmac 10

    Lets bring back the knight-hoods for the good of New Zealanders.
    “Hey! Did I say?” says John. “Being SIR John just happenned to be on my bucket list, so umm……”

    • Jasper 10.1

      And cos he’ll need a staff to stop from falling over, we can rename him Sir John Falstaff!

  11. sk 11

    Robert’s post gets to crux of John Key. In his career at BT and Merrill he was a salesmen, not a trader or position taker. He was the equivalent of an East-End jobber, who was a nice bloke but not a deep thinker. Clients may have respected his instinct, but not his analysis. He had no apparent interest in politics even as late as the 1990’s.. . .let alone 1981.

    So getting into politics was about ego gratification, not about making a difference. He has no background at all . . . and that is hurting him. He does not have a political memory to dig into when the pressure is on, and he cannot think congnitively. Moreover, he has no one in his team who he can turn to.

    Where I differ is that crisis is already underway – . And in politics in NZ – unless it can be turned around – that means one term . ..

    • coolas 11.1

      Interesting comment. I met an American visitor who worked with Key at Merrill Lynch and she was shocked he got to be PM. She said Key was a good ‘yes man’ for his clients but had poor analytical skills.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        Actually, I thought he got to be leader of National because he was a good “yes” man. Somebody who could be managed, by saying “I thought it would just be signing off on things but you actually have to make lots of decisions every day” I think he thought that as well.

  12. Craig Glen Eden 12

    Sk I think you are right a few more hard hitting issues or hits and I think he will lose his will,he is not tough. Love her or hate her Clarke was tough and she was politically experienced, you just cant rock up to parliament and think its going to be easy. People like Clarke and Boldger make it look easy but it aint!
    As Key is finding out its your own team who often lets you down.

  13. the sprout 13

    he is definitely tiring quickly, it was evident months ago.

    Get a shave mate, you’re the PM

    The guy’s tired already

    it’s what you get from someone who’s really only in it for the glory and novelty. easy come, easy go.

  14. Zaphod Beeblebrox 14

    Hey guys, take some more cool-aid and lay off a bit. Taking one isolated quote and attributing a whole range of motivations (which really only he can answer) is a bit over the top.
    Just because he’s looks tired sometimes and can be a bit flippant is no reason to think he hasn’t got his heart in it.
    What’s probably more important is that his office is set up properly and he is getting good advice- thats what I would be worried about at the moment.
    And the ideological differences of his ministry. Seems to me that JK is actually way to the left of a number of his ministers who want to turn the clock back to the early 1990s. How is he going to control Jeckyl and Hyde?
    If you are getting a bit bored of what is happening at the moment- there is lots of good reading about what is happening in Iran- much more interesting than how JK’s health is.

    • the sprout 14.1

      he may or may not “have his heart in it”.

      my concern is that, consistently, he seems to have very little stamina.

      • craig 14.1.1

        Clearly the public can’t be trusted to elect a party whose leader has good stamina – would it make you happier if we just let you decide who the PM is Sprout?

    • Draco T Bastard 14.2

      Just because he’s looks tired sometimes and can be a bit flippant is no reason to think he hasn’t got his heart in it.

      But it is a good reason to think he’s not up to the job.

  15. Pat 15

    I agree. I think he’ll chuck it in around 2018.

    • GFraser 15.1

      Is that 2018 tonight? or will he hang on to 2100?
      Nah 2200 would be better, just in time for the late news:-)

  16. gingercrush 16

    You lot are in the same self-denial mode as what right-wingers opined about Clark for years and years. On that record Key should see three terms. Where we on the right had low opinions of Clark so too do you on the left have low regard for Key.

    • Daveski 16.1

      I have no doubt that Key is finding the role significantly stressful – after all, he hasn’t had a lengthy political apprenticeship to prepare himself for this role.

      Oddly, this “outsider” personna may actually appeal to the punters but not the political tragics.

      Having said that, the more that the comments here bag Key, the more assured I am. It’s the similar of the Aussies bagging Richard Hadlee – the position is fixed so don’t need to worry about any facts or analysis.

      If Key came off the bench on Sat night and scored the winning try, he’d still be bagged for not doing enough work off the ball, or missing some tackles, or getting Worth sent off 🙂

  17. Pat 17

    I think the next preferred PM polls will be very interesting. If Goff can get to second place, that will be a huge triumph.

    • Ianmac 17.1

      I don’t think the polls will show any significant change for a long time. Change will seep in rather than sweep. Takes a while for concern to cause doubts. Only a few of us take a keen interest in demeanours and polls.

  18. Craig Glen Eden 18

    ZB If you read the thread you will see we are not talking about one incidence. We are talking about a lack of love, knowledge, experience of politics.

    We are talking about a guy who has no history no experience even as a cabinet minister. Key despite what the National Party and media told us is no wonder boy.

    Money could buy you a good media strategy and campaign company but it does not make decisions for you and help with the day to day trials of being PM

    His comment is very telling, to even admit this shows how naive he is.

    If you look at Mt Albert Bye election National got hammered. Why? They did not have the experience on the ground.
    If you watched Q and A on Sunday you would have seen Coleman looking at a TV camera preening himself,problem was, it was on. He looked like a total arse

    This stuff is basic shit,it may seem small but its not, we are talking about a Government thats been in office 7 months and already they are looking to lean against the ropes and many of them are short on ring time experience.

    Lots of people look good saying smart shit to their competitor in the media circus before show time. But when the bell rings you better be able to work the ring and take a punch or ten. What people are saying and rightly so is this bloke has not got the stamina skill or chin to be in this ring.

    Just how good Goff is we are all about to see but, we know he has been in the ring a long time he is a tireless worker and he can duck and weave he is a survivor. I suspect Key has been talking a few classes above his weight just like Melissa Lee .

    • Pat 18.1

      And the prize for Most Extended Metaphor goes to…

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 18.2

      Ok he’s had a bad month, before that though, he hardly put a foot wrong. I would blame his advisors and his ministers who have let him down badly.

      I don’t feel JK is the weak link in the govt, he’s got a very good thinking brain and can get loyalty from colleagues (witness how he has handled the minority parties).
      Considering who he had to pick from he did well picking the ministry- getting rid of some dead wood, going out on a limb over Bennett). His three biggest mistakes so far have been picking Worth, giving Hide Auckland and backing Lee for Mt Albert.

      National’s biggest problem seems to be their personnel, the dead weight of ACT and the fact that their ideology is out of date and inappropriate for the times- Key is the least of their problems I would have thought.

  19. ghostwhowalks 19

    Remember , for his first 18 months as leader, Bill English would turn up at interviews to chaperon Key if the questions got too hard. he must miss that!

    he must have expected a Yes prime Minister style where all the heavy lifting was done by others and he would have say, ‘3 names to choose from for a bishop’, and that sort of thing.

  20. Craig Glen Eden 20

    Me Pat I know, it was over doing the analogy a lot, but I think the points made were fair, boxing is like politics it looks so easy from the outside.

    • Pat 20.1

      Three minutes is a long, long time when you are in the ring, just like a day is a long time in politics.

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