When it was revealed that John Key had told a business leader he ‘would love to see wages drop‘ it undermined everything he’d told national media about wanting to lift wages. It also had the potential to do irreparable damage to his rhetoric on tax cuts and to show him as being less than honest with voters.
National’s response was interesting. First, we had Key’s telling silence in Parliament. Then we had the excuses that John couldn’t recall the exchange, that he was misquoted, that he never said it and even that he was joking. When those lines failed, National changed tack and claimed Key had been talking about Australian wages all along.
Now the Northern Advocate has released a transcript that proves not only was Key lying, he is now on the record telling a business leader he wants to give working New Zealanders a pay cut.
The transcript has Key’s full quote as well as the question he was answering, and it clears up once and for all what happened:
During a Northland meeting on his Heartland tour, John Key met Kerikeri District Business Association president Carolyne Brooks-Quan in a cafÃ© with a journalist present. Key seems to have taken little notice of the journalist, referring to him in a later media interview as ‘a young guy’.
During the meeting Brooks-Quan expressed to Key her concern about calls for employers in New Zealand to pay their workers more:
‘There’s been a lot surrounding the exodus of people to Australia that are lured by higher wages. There are some calls here for employers to pay more. What’s your take on that?
John, ever the business-friendly politician, replied:
‘We would love to see wages drop. The way we want to see wages increase is because productivity is greater. So people can afford more. Not just inflationary reasons, otherwise it’s a bit of a vicious circle as it comes back to you in higher interest rates. We really want to drive that out.’
So there you have it. John Key says his party would love to see wages in New Zealand drop – no ifs, no buts, no maybes.
Note that ‘we really want to drive that [wages rises for â€˜inflationary reasons’] out’ is also a call for people’s wages to stagnate or fall while inflation decreases their buying power.
There is no plausible way in which Key’s comments could be interpreted as wanting to see wages fall in Australia.
Key has been caught lying, plain and simple. Now he has some explaining to do.