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Trust me, I’m the Prime Minister

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, June 17th, 2009 - 30 comments
Categories: corruption, john key - Tags:

Some thoughts on Key’s continuing refusal to tell us why he fired Worth.

First, it’s tautological to say that a Prime Minister fired a minister because he lost confidence in him. The statement provides no new information.

Second, it is completely irrelevant that Worth is no longer an MP. The questions are about Key’s decisions while in the office of PM and Worth’s actions while in office.

Third, the test isn’t ‘why should he tell us?’, it’s ‘why shouldn’t he?’. The era when the default position of government was secrecy is long gone. Now he has contradicted his earlier statement about not wanting to contaminate a police inquiry, Key has no excuse not to make the reason public.

Fourth, even those who say ‘we don’t need to know why Key fired Worth’ are guessing the reason. Paul Henry for example said  ‘we don’t need to know, it was obviously something to do with his conduct’ [yes, but what to do with his conduct, Paul]. The fact that everyone’s guessing shows the public interest.

Fifth, we have a right to know. We have a right to know why ministers of the Crown are fired. We have a right to assess the quality of the Prime Minister’s decision-making in firing the minister and how that reflects on Key’s decision to appoint him in the first place. No, there is no legal need to disclose but there is a political imperative. No other Prime Minister has ever kept the reasons for firing a minister secret. In fact, they’re usually more than happy to tell us to show that they are firm leaders who set high standards.

Sixth, isn’t it telling that National’s attack dogs are still trying to distract everyone with more mauling of the women at centre of the Worth complaints? If even Farrar can’t come up with some positive spin of his actions (and suddenly becomes fascinated with Iran instead), you know Key’s behaviour is indefensible.

Seventh, Key’s already told the National caucus and his senior advisers the basics. By now they’ve told their staffers and families. It’s like swine flu. Now it’s out there’s no containing it.

30 comments on “Trust me, I’m the Prime Minister”

  1. So Bored 1

    A comprehensive NO (regardless of the issue).

  2. Zaphod Beeblebrox 2

    No mystery to me- he thinks Worth’s an idiot. Bigger question should be why did he make him a minister in the first place.

  3. Pat 3

    “Trust me, I’m the Prime Minister’

    Has Helen Clark’s election campaign restarted?

    • Merlin 3.1

      That’s all you’ve got Pat? Even you can’t defend your hero, just run distraction instead.. must be desperate times.

  4. Pat 4

    “The era when the default position of government was secrecy is long gone”

    November 2008 was not that long ago.

    • ghostwhowalks 4.1

      Yes its terrible not knowing the reasons for any of the ministers that were sacked or stood down for the 9 years of the Labour government.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        We don’t know all the nitty gritty of Helen’s conversations when she sacked said Ministers, though, do we? Nor should we, but it seems that this is what many are now seeking from Key.

        It does seem bleeding obvious. Worth embarrasses Key several times, is probably on last warning, and then (another) ex-marital sexual exploit/allegation emerges. Don’t come Monday, Mr Worth.

        • Merlin

          “We don’t know all the nitty gritty of Helen’s conversations when she sacked said Ministers, though, do we? Nor should we, but it seems that this is what many are now seeking from Key.”

          No it’s not. We just want to know the reason. Like we know the reasons why Clark sacked mnisters.

          I note that you’re also providing a guess yourself as to the reason, so you do feel that we should know.

        • Maynard J

          “We don’t know all the nitty gritty of Helen’s conversations when she sacked said Ministers, though, do we? Nor should we, but it seems that this is what many are now seeking from Key.”

          Straw man. I do not want to know the conversation. I want to know why Key lost confidence. We do not know how Clark’s chat with Dyson went, but we know the reason. Same goes for all the other ministers. We know the reason.

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    The Journos are not going to buy this. The likes of Mr Key and Paul Henry might want to move on but the political journos will be sick of talking about Keys kids dog , and what a nice chap he is by now.
    They know the smell of some thing that is not quite right about all of this

    • Daveski 5.1

      Perhaps but a quick scan of the papers show that the journos are starting to run out of steam.

      More importantly, the one article I saw on the NZH included the following:

      “I have no intention of going into the specifics, but I can say that Dr Worth did not meet the standards I set for my ministers, and therefore when I lost confidence in him I sought his resignation,” Mr Key said.

      And finally:

      Under parliamentary rules, Mr Key does not have to give any reason for dismissing a minister other than loss of confidence.

  6. I certainly see double standards with the level of transparency expected of Key and that demanded of Clark’s government.

    Personally, I think Key erred in not sacking Worth over the Indian trip and that would have saved a lot of the resulting issues.

    Having said that, once the new allegations surfaced, then I Key acted reasonably quickly and the solution was better all round, especially if you compare to the TFF circus.

    Frankly, the only issue that matters is the first point. If the PM loses confidence in a minister that is it. We may be interested but we have no rights. Confidence is a subjective matter in any case.

    As has been said before, I think the worst of this has hit the Nats already. Goff is the one who is most exposed at this stage if the evidence fails to live up to the damnation, a point you miss.

    • Maynard J 6.1

      Yes, confidence is a subjective matter. It tells us nothing. Perhaps Key walked into Worth’s office and saw him covered in peanut butter, wearing a wedding dress and talking to his teddy bear while splashing about in a paddling pool and thought “better not have this guy running Internal Affairs”. I doubt it but who is to know.

      What happens if Key does the same to an Electorate MP – will they get to know why their MP has been forced out? Key is damn lucky Worth was a list MP and not so directly beholden to voters, and that anyone who actively supports National was happy to wholeheartedly sledge Worth from the get go. Some people might have voted for National party because they supported him – their vote has been devalued, and they are not being told why.

      • Sparo 6.1.1

        And mebbe as the Minister of Internal Affairs he did like they do in Iran—tell Mousavi he had won!

  7. Zaphod Beeblebrox 7

    You were doing well until you tried to link Goff to Worth. Do you know something everyone else doesn’t? If you have a reputable source lets hear it.
    If Phil did have a plan to embarrass Key, he must have a Maciavellian mind of huge proportions.

    Having said that- you are correct. The public does not have any inherent RIGHT to know. If this term is enshrined anywhere I would like to know.

    • Daveski 7.1

      ZB I should qualify what I wrote – I did not mean it to Goff set this up but I think he overplayed it. In other words, his intentions were IMO pure at the start (off the record conversations etc) but he seemed to lose his way later on.

      I also accept that our respective views are flavoured by our perspective – I have ever suspicion that had the roles been reversed, I would have been demanding greater transparency while fundamentally acknowledging nothing illegal is being done. The true nature of politics eh!

  8. Hon PETE HODGSON to the Prime Minister: Why did he lose confidence in Dr Richard Worth as a Minister?

    Hopefully Labour leave a few more supplementary questions up their sleeve this time….

    • gingercrush 8.1

      Why is Pete Hodgson tackling this now and not Phil Goff? And I presume Key isn’t going to be in the house today since Goff isn’t even asking the PM a question.

      • gobsmacked 8.1.1

        Goff asked the PM a question. Key didn’t want to face it, so passed it on to English.

        Not fond of fronting up, is he?

  9. Scribe 9

    The fact that everyone’s guessing shows the public interest.

    Who is everyone?

    Worth has gone from a major topic of discussion at my Tuesday poker night to not registering last night.

    Worth’s resignation has taken the steam out of this story from the mainstream media’s perspective. I can’t imagine it’ll last much past this week (other than the police investigation).

  10. I imagine that public interest in Worth will die down. The absence of new, particularly titillating material will mean that popular media will move on to other things.

    However, the Worth case exists at two quite distinct levels – the popular and the parliamentary/political. Popular discourse operates at one level, that of Parliament at another. The more thoughtful journalists in the Lobby and the Opposition in Parliament will not forget the manner in which the Worth case was managed, just as they will bring to bear on it a different, more technical, wonkish, ‘political’ perspective . The Worth case, along with the cases of Ms Rankin and Lee, and the no-show at the Mt Albert concession, and the interesting contrast being drawn ever more frequently between the performances of Messrs Key and English, and the failure to control Mr Hide’s local government agenda, and the sense that a number of ministers are not performing too well in their portfolios (some almost missing in action), and more, will now be part of the ‘story’ that is recounted in Wellington around the current government. As that story develops and takes firmer shape, so will Worth etc become important factors in whether the story is positive or negative about Mr Key and his government.

    Mr Key still has time to influence significantly the substance of that story, but two things are important in this. First, he has no previous successful political track record against which he can contrast any current adversity. Second, there is a snowball effect – once a government is sufficiently mauled, it rarely recoups its reputation (as Mr Brown is realising in the UK). It may be that Mr Key needs to draw on all the experience of his caucus now if he wants to avoid a mauling medium-term.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Being off the front pages doesn’t mean the story is dead. Nixon had time to win an election in the months that Watergate was just a “beltway issue”. It didn’t save him in the end. Sleeping and dead are not synonyms. (Although admittedly Washington had real journalists, which we’re a bit short of).

    But there is a police investigation. Eventually it will end. Then the last fig leaf falls.

    • Phil (not Goff) 11.1

      That comparison is so very ripe for a ‘deep throat’ innuendo gag…

  12. Mach2 12

    Make what you will of the notion but a poster over at Farrars tried to connect some dots, buggered if I can find the post, along the lines of a Korean business woman, Worths behavior and a by-election.
    capcha; lite bouffant

  13. Jasper 13


    Might it have been this comment ?

    • Mach2 13.1


      • Jasper 13.1.1

        Mmm, that comment came out due to the fact that the Indian Woman hasn’t been formally identified, nor has the Korean Businesswoman from Auckland.

        Two comments saying “strikingly beautiful” (Goff) and “labour activist” (Rudman) seems to be all that it is for the media to pick up and run with Neelam, thanks to Whale.

        So lets right some muck and do the same objective analysis on a korean businesswoman from auckland in a wellington hotel.

        It’s deeply curious and the whole Mt Albert affair is odd.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    Key gets another grilling in the House. Better questions from Hodgson this time, extracting the truth bit by bit. Brownlee and Lockwood form a human shield for Key to hide behind.

    He’s not doing himself any favours on this.

    • Ianmac 14.1

      Yes good questions but evasive answers. Funny that a Leader needs protecting?????
      Is it possible that there is stuff known by people like Hodgson, which may be very embarrassing for the PM when/if it is released? eg: PM was panicked into making the wrong decision and was stuck with it.

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