John Key to resign as PM

December 5, 2016

John Key has announced he’s resigning as Prime Minister and National Party leader:

A special caucus meeting will be called on 12 December, when a new leader will be decided upon.

He said it had been a privilege to serve the people of Helensville, and he will stay in Parliament long enough to avoid a by-election.

Mr Key made the announcement at Parliament today.

He told his Cabinet and caucus colleagues this morning that he did not intend to stay on for a fourth term as leader, he said.

“To me, this feels like the right time to go.”

The timing would give caucus and the new leader time to settle in prior to next year’s general election, he said.

It was “the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. . . 

My first reaction was disbelief then sadness.

John Key took on the party’s leadership as it was on the way up in popularity and built on that.

He led the party to three election victories and has been at the head of a government which has maintained unprecedented levels of popularity.

I first met him when I was National’s Otago Electorate chair and was very impressed with him.

What I saw then, the intelligence, approachability, and both interest in and concern for people,  have been signatures of his leadership of the party and the country.

When he became Prime Minister New Zealand was facing a decade of deficits. He and his team, not least of all his deputy and Finance Minister, Bill English, have turned that round and projections now show growing surpluses.

He has led a strong united caucus and party. The mutual respect between the parliamentary and voluntary wings and party staff is unquestioned. That won’ change under a new leader.

The commentariat and opposition will be delighted and think this will help change the government next year.

But the party’s strength and unity will continue under the new leader as will its compassionate conservatism and policies which work for all New Zealanders.

My initial reaction was sadness. I still feel that, but I am also optimistic about the party and the government, and the new leader, whichever of the several able candidates that will be.

Update:

The PM’s resignation speech:

Just a few days ago I marked the anniversary of my eighth year as Prime Minister and my tenth as leader of the National Party.

Such an occasion seems a fitting time to not only take stock of the past 10 years, but to look forward.

Being leader of both the party and the country has been an incredible experience.

Along with my Cabinet and caucus colleagues, we steered the country through the global financial crisis which was arguably the worst recession since the Great Depression.

We have stood with Christchurch in the wake of the earthquakes – the greatest natural disaster to hit our country since 1931, and we have mourned the victims of the Pike River Mine disaster; one of the saddest days our small nation has endured in recent times.

During my time as Prime Minister the Government has positioned New Zealand so that our economy could harness the opportunities offered by a burgeoning Asia and a more connected world.

Reforms have been far reaching, including substantial changes to our tax, welfare, planning and labour laws, not to mention the successful partial sell-down of state companies, the considerable overhaul of our Justice, Security and Corrections agencies and, of course, trade liberalisation.

Ten years since I first became leader of the National Party, I believe we can look back on advanced race relations and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.

We also have a more confident, outward-looking and multi-cultural New Zealand that competes and succeeds on the world stage.

Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love. All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me – my family.

For my wife Bronagh, there have been many nights and weekends spent alone, many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend.

My daughter Stephie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job.

I thank them for their tolerance. Bronagh and I are immensely proud of them.
My family has also had remarkable opportunities and experiences as we have met people and visited places from one end of our country to the other.

We have celebrated alongside fellow Kiwis in their happiest times, and wept with them in their saddest.

Simply put, it has, for me, been the most remarkable, satisfying and exciting time of my life.

But despite the amazing career I have had in politics, I have never seen myself as a career politician. I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in Parliament.

The National Party is in great shape. Bill English has told me that in all his years here, ours is the most cohesive Cabinet he has seen. And I personally am humbled and gratified that after eight years as Prime Minister, my personal support from the public remains high.

I absolutely believe we can win the next election.

But I do not believe that, if you asked me if I was committed to serving out a fourth term, that I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders.

I also believe that leadership change, for the right reasons and handled well, is good for a political party.

For all these reasons, I today told my Cabinet and caucus colleagues of my decision to step down as Leader of the National Party and as Prime Minister.

It is my expectation that on Monday 12 December National MPs will hold a special caucus meeting to select a new leader and later that day I will tender my resignation to the Governor-General.

This has been the hardest decision I have ever made and I do not know what I will do next.

But for me this feels the right time to go.

It gives the Cabinet and caucus plenty of time to settle in with a new leader before heading into the next election with a proud record of strong economic management, a commitment to the most vulnerable in our society and lots of ideas to keep lifting New Zealanders up in the world.

It would be easy to say I have made this decision solely to rediscover the personal and family life I once had, and that is a factor, but it is one among many.

Over the years I have observed many leaders who, in a similar position, fail to take this step.

I can understand why. It is a hard job to leave.

But, for me and the National Party, this is a good time to go. Party membership is high and the party is well-funded. The caucus is talented and eager to serve, and one of the achievements of which I am proud is having built with my colleagues a Cabinet team that is capable, committed and cohesive.

That is a great legacy for National’s next leader.

Just as I grasped the challenge of leadership so will a new leader.

Inevitably they will bring their own personality, emphasis and priorities to the role.

This is part of the process that allows a long-serving government to keep delivering.

For my part I am confident the caucus has a number of individuals who would make a fine future PM.

It is inevitable I will be asked who I will vote for at the caucus meeting on December 12.

Whoever the caucus elects will have my unwavering support, but if Bill English puts his name forward then I will vote for him.

For 10 years now Bill and I have worked as a team. I have witnessed first-hand his leadership style, his capacity for work, his grasp of the economy, his commitment to change and, most of all, his decency as a husband, as a father, as a friend, a colleague and as a politician.

Bill has, I believe, grown a great deal since he was last Party leader.
Fifteen years on he has more experience and the party and political cycles are quite different.

I believe that National, under Bill’s leadership, would win the election in 2017.
This is not the time to thank all of those who have made the past 10 years possible for me.

But nor can I stand here without acknowledging Bronagh, Stephie and Max who have sacrificed a lot for me to have been able to do what the job demands.

No person in this role can succeed without the support of an enormous number of talented and dedicated individuals.

I thank my deputy Bill English, the Cabinet and caucus for their loyalty and energy and, of course, my wonderful staff, so well led by Wayne Eagleson, who have done more than I ever could have hoped or expected.

I also wish to thank and acknowledge our support partners ACT, United Future and the Maori Party without whom the strong and stable Government we have delivered would not have been possible.

I have no doubt my successor will look to build upon these relationships.

Last but not least, I wish to put on record my everlasting gratitude to the people of Helensville for electing me, and to the New Zealand public for their support, faith and encouragement. It has been my privilege to serve you all.

I have always believed that the test of a good Prime Minister is that he or she leaves the country in better shape than they found it. Over time, others will judge whether I have done that.

All I can say is that I gave it everything I had.

I have left nothing in the tank.

Finally, while I intend to stay in Parliament long enough to avoid the cost and inconvenience a by-election would cause the good people of Helensville, I will at an appropriate time prior to the next election step down as an MP.

On that day, I shall walk from these buildings for the last time, a richer person for the experience and privilege of being here, and hoping and believing that New Zealand has been well served by the Government I led.

Thank you.

There’s a video of the speech on Facebook.

And his Deputy, Bill English’s response:

John Key’s intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister of New Zealand means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“On behalf of the National Party, the Government and New Zealand I thank John for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to our country.

“Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference.

“I thank Bronagh, Stephie and Max for the sacrifice they’ve made to enable John to be an extremely successful and effective leader.  We are deeply appreciative.

“While the gap he leaves is huge we understand and respect his decision to step down from a job from which there is no respite.  We wish John and his family every success with their life out of the public eye.

“Under John Key’s leadership the Government has worked alongside New Zealanders to ensure our country is one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in the world.”

The National Caucus will consider the implications of the Prime Minister’s decision and how to ensure New Zealand stays on course to continue building a strong economy, increasing opportunities for our families and businesses, rewarding enterprise and effort, while protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s outstanding leadership that he will leave behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward and build on his legacy,” Mr English says.


Right royal, vice regal birthday

November 14, 2012

Today is Prince Charles’s 64th birthday.

It is also the 58th birthday of Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and they will be sharing their party with other New Zealanders who were born on November 14th.

With the exception of the oldest applicant, the names of the 64 were chosen at random.  And like the group they were chosen from, the 64 are of all ages, from 18 to 101 and from throughout New Zealand.

The Prince is reported to be looking forward to the party:

. . . “One group will be of particular interest, namely those who were born on 14th November, an illustrious group which includes the Governor-General, Mrs Key and, er, me,” the Prince said.

“I look forward very much to our joint birthday party on Wednesday along with 64 fellow Scorpios and to discussing our plans for world domination.” . . .

It will be a right royal, vice regal celebration and a birthday to remember for them all.


Will Labour complain about this too?

October 5, 2011

The latest Australian Women’s Weekly has a cover story about John and Bronagh Key and Phil and Mary Goff.

The stories are about the couples and their relationships and each concludes with a Q&A with the MPs.

It’s a little heavy on gush which my, admittedly rare,  readings of the AWW suggest is not unusual for this magazine, but the stories do show something of the people behind the politicians and both are treated equally.

But I bought the magazine because I saw the Keys smiling at me from the cover. It was only when I went to read it that I noticed the Goffs in the corner.

Will Labour follow up their complaint about the PM’s RadioLIVE slot with a complaint about the unequal cover coverage too?

Apropos of the complaint, Labour would have been on much stronger ground complaining that the radio programme breached electoral or broadcasting rules had Goff not asked to host a show too.

P.S.

Dim Post has  something else for someone to complain about..


The Royal Wedding – live blogging

April 29, 2011

12:34: I do love a lovely wedding, and this was a really lovely one. They look happy, I hope they are.

12:32: Everyone back into the palace.

12:30: Fly past.

12:29: A second kiss. Very decorous, a peck rather than a snog.

12: 27: The Queen leads other members of the royal family onto the balcony. The crowd is excited. They kiss (Kate and WIllaim that is, not the crowd).

12:26: The Duke and Duchess are on the balcony waving.

12:25 Net curtains on the palace window behind the balcony – tell me no!

12:22: The Brits do secuirty and crowd control well too – all those people and no sign of anything untoward.

12:05: Photos here and here.

12:03:Offical royal wedding pages here.

11:59:  Three hours of bell ringing might be a wee bit much for most people, not least those doing the ringing. Wonder if they wear ear protection? Do they do it in shifts?

11:44:  The Brits do do pomp and ceremony well, don’t they?

11:34: They’re calling it the wedding of the century – it’s been glorious but with 89 years (90 if you’re a pedant) to go that’s a big call.

11:26:  It’s not easy getting out of a carriage gracefully in a long dress and a longer trains, but she does it.

11:25: Back at the palace. Those are very well behaved horses.

11:20:  There’s a reason for that royal wave – the royal arms would get very tired if they did too much ordinary waving.

11:11: The sun is shining, they’re smiling and waving to the crowd.

11:09: WIlliam puts on his cap and gloves. Into the carriage.

11:08:  They walk out of the Abbey to cheers from the crowd and the peal of bells.

11:05: They bow and curtsy to the Queen.

 11:04  Prince WiIliam and Princess Kate (or is it now Princess Catherine?), the DUke and Duchess of Cambridge, return to a fanfare.

11:03 The clergy go to the door.

11:02:  The families return. The choir is still singing.

10:53: Pippa gives Kate her bouquet, they walk forward into a chapel, followed by their parents and siblings, to sign the register. The choir sings.

10:52: God Save the Queen. She doesn’t sing but Prince Phillip does.

10:50: Another prayer.The choir sings Amen.

10:47: Hymn – Jerusalem. Elton John doesn’t seem to be over familiar with this either. Many in the crowd outside are singing more enthusiastically.

1044: PrayersI know Roman Catholics don’t say the last bit of the Lord’s Prayer (for thine is the kingdon . . . ) but didn’t realise Anglicans don’t either.

 10:40 The choir sings while WIlliam and Kate move to the, is it the nave? Pardon my ignorance of church architecture is showing. No it’s not the nave, it’s the alter.

10:39:  He finishes with a prayer which William and Kate wrote.

10:32:  Address by the Bishop of London. He starts quoting Saint Catherine of Sienna – Be who you are mant to be and you will set the world on fire.

10:27 Anthem This is the Day The Lord Hath Made, commissioned specially for the service as a gift to th couple.

10:24: Bible reading by James Middleton- Romans chapter 12. Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good . . . Either he’s using a teleprompter or he’s got a very good memory.

10-:20 The second hymn – Love Divinewe sang it at our wedding,

10:17: A ring for her but not for him.

10:12 Dearly beloved –the Dean begins the service with the  traditional words.

10:11 Sophie’s veil is off her face, she looks happy.

10:10: The first hymn – Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer. Elton John doesn’t appear to know it.

10:09: Harry looks nervous, William looks happy.

10:08: What restraint – William hasn’t glanced back yet.

10:05: Kate, her father and the Dean walk slowly down the aisle. Her veil is over her face.

10:04: William and Harry are led to the alter steps as the choir sings I Was Glad.

10:03: Is that a tear in her mother’s eye?

10:00: It’s 11am in England. Kate and her father have arrived at the Abbey, PIppa is coming out to greet her. Kate’s dress is simple and elegant with a train which is several metres long. It was made by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

9:59: All that waiting by all those people who cheer as the bride and her father glide past in seconds.

9:56: Pippa Middleton (stunning in a sleek, champagne coloured gown), the flower girls and page boys are going into the Abbey.

9:55: She looks happy.

9:51: Kate Middleton, wearing lace and carrying a posey, has got into the car with her father, Michael. My, what a long train.

9:49: The Queen and Duke have arrived at the Abbey. Her outfit looks more subdued inside. She gets a  fanfare fromt he band and a kiss from her son.

9:48: Two page boys in mini-military uniforms.

9:44 Charles and Camilla  are going into the Abbey.

9:43:  The bridesmaids (in champagne coloured dresses) are getting in to the cars.

9:41: The Queen and Prince Phillip have left the palace – she’s in yellow, he’s in red – would it be impolite to say they’re colours I wouldn’t put together?

 9:40:  Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are wearing what Lyn of Taw would describe as visual symphonies on their heads.

9:38: Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are on their way to the Abbey.

9:35 Prince Andrew, his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; Prince Edward and Princess Sophie are leaving the palace.

9:33: Carole MIddleton and her son James have arrived at the Abbey.

9:30:  The junior royals are travelling from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey. Mini vans don’t have quite the same impact as Rolls Royces or carriages.

9:26 – Carole Middleton, Kate’s mother, in sky blue is on her way to th Abbey.

9:24:  In other news the Blues have beaten the Highlanders 15 -10 at Carisbrook. The Breakers have won the basketball final against the Taipans.

9:22:  The fascinators many women are wearing are fascinating – and surely better for the people sitting behind you than a large hat.

9:20: The princes took off their caps as they entered the Abbey and are chatting to the Dean.

9:12: Princes William and Harry have left Clarence House on their way to the Abbey – William in red, the dress uniform of the Irish Guards.

9:05: British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha hold hands as they walk into Westminster Abbey.

9:pm: Commonwealth leaders arriving including the Keys and Julia Gillard – the latter in pink.

8.35: Promgramme:

From 8:50pm               Governors-General and Prime Ministers of Realm Countries (including John Key), the Diplomatic Corps, and other distinguished guests arrive at the Abbey 

 9:10pm                        The Bridegroom and Prince Henry of Wales (Prince Harry) leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9:15pm)

 9:20pm                        Members of Foreign Royal Families arrive at Westminster Abbey from Buckingham Palace 

 9:20pm                        Carole Middleton (Mother of the Bride) leaves the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey (arrive 9:27pm)

 9:25pm                        Members of the Royal Family (except those listed below) leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9:30pm)

 9:35pm                        The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex ,The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral

   Timothy Laurence leave Buckingham Palace (arrive at 9:40pm)

 9:38pm                        The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.42pm)

 9:40pm                        The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.45pm) 

 9:48pm                        The Bridesmaids and Pages leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.55pm) 

 9:51pm                        The Bride, accompanied by Michael Middleton, leaves the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey 

10:00pm                       The Marriage Service begins 

                                       Service will be conducted by Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey

                                       Vows will be presided over by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

   Sermon delivered by Right Reverend Richard Chartres   

11:15pm                       The Carriage Procession of the Bride and Bridegroom with a Captain’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, followed by The Queen’s Procession with a

   Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, leaves Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace

11:30pm                       The Bride’s Carriage Procession arrives at Buckingham Palace

11:40pm                       Members of the Royal Family and Members of Foreign Royal Families arrive at Buckingham Palace

From 11:40pm             Guests arrive at Buckingham Palace for the Reception  

SATURDAY NZT

12:25am                       The Queen and the Bride and Bridegroom, together with their Families, appear on the Balcony to wave to the crowd

12:30am                       Fly Past by the Royal Air Force and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (includes the traditional kiss)

8:25 My farmer is watching the rugby but I’m enjoying watching people arrive at Westminster Abbey.

Earlier this evening Prime Minsiter John Key and his wife Bronagh showed off their wedding finery – she in a Trelise Cooper pink lace dress with a royal blue coat and hat, he in a greenstone-washed merino suit. Tv3 here; TV 1 here and here.


Fashionistas should stick to own kitting

November 23, 2008

Just a couple of week’s into John Key’s tenure as Prime Minister and the fashionistas are after his wife Bronagh.

Her fashion crime? Wearing the same outfit twice.

Shock, horror! 

It’s just as well I’m not in a position which brings me to the attention of the fashion police because not only do I wear the same outfit many times I do so over many seasons. If it wasn’t for a problem of wardrobe shrinkage (when you hang clothes in the wardrobe and find they’ve shrunk when you try them on a few months later) I’d be wearing them for a lot longer.

Bronagh appears to be a confident woman, comfortable with who she is and what she wears so I hope she ignores the unsolicited advice.

Wearing something more than once isn’t a fashion faux pas, it’s displaying environmental and financial sense.

We’re continually being exhorted to reduce, reuse and recycle so wearing an outfit just once is simply wasteful and  when we’re facing the worst financial crisis for decades it could also be regarded as profligate.

The fashionistas should stick to kitting out those who seek their advice and leave attractive and well dressed women like Bronagh to enjoy their own style, which includes wearing outfits as many times as she likes.

That way she’ll be a role model for the majority rather than a fashion horse for the few because while the fashion police have a vested interest in getting women into new clothes as often as possible that’s neither sensible nor possible for most of us.

UPDATE: The Hand Mirror  and Kiwiblog also comment on this.

UPDATE 2: goNZo Freakpower writes from experience.

UPDATE #: So does Madeleine at MandM


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