John Key has once again impressed us all by his sheer lack of political nous by labelling David Cunliffe ‘an idiot’ for attacking him over the total lack of respect in Australia for New Zealand people and products.
Cunliffe has recently been holding Key to task on issues like entitlements that New Zealanders living in Australia are offered (eg. student loans and social security), and has also called for Key to get tough with Tony Abbott on the exclusion of New Zealand products from supermarkets in Australia. Given that New Zealand and Australia are right next to each other, and are supposedly partners in a number of international deals, you’d think that these comments were fair enough, and that Key should probably do what he was elected to – like maybe, I don’t know, try and work for the best interests of his country…
However, after a high profile meeting with Tony Abbott last week, Key has yet again not let us down on his track record of totally letting us down. After the meeting, Key emerged to announce that he and Abbott had developed some sort of weird man love, but no progress had been made on the serious issues facing New Zealanders. As he rightly should, Cunliffe questioned the lack of progress. Key’s reply:
“What an idiot. I’m sorry, but I mean, the guy goes in there and says ‘Why don’t you get better rights for New Zealanders?’ forgetting he was part of the government that signed New Zealand up for this.”
I think that this tells us several things about our Prime Minister. Firstly, as Cunliffe has pointed out, he wasn’t a Minister in the Labour Government when Australia stripped New Zealanders of entitlements. That’s not so important however.
Secondly, it tells us that after 5 years of government, the National Party are still obsessed with the Fifth Labour Government. The stock reply of most of the high ranking National ministers when questioned about a problem is something along the lines of ‘BLAME THE LABOUR GOVERNMENT’. In almost every speech that Bill English has ever made he has blamed Labour for the state of the economy, despite Michael Cullen producing surplus after surplus, and leaving a fund behind him that has made more this year than the whole asset sales programme. After nearly two terms in power, you’d think that National would have implemented some policies that go somewhere near fixing the so called ‘problems’ left by Labour, but judging by their continued tantrums about the last government, this evidently hasn’t happened. It is not a sign of good government that after 5 years they’re still complaining about their predecessors.
Thirdly, I think that this little incident demonstrates that John Key is tired of being Prime Minister. Calling your main political opponent ‘an idiot’ is not smart, nor particularly funny – it demonstrates an inability to actually engage with criticism. Given that Key’s popularity is built around his famous tendency to obliterate opponents with political savvy and polished performance, a slip like this may herald the end times for the Prime Minister.
Above all, this entire situation shows Key’s lack of regard for serious issues affecting New Zealand. He was more interested in his bromance with Tony Abbott than fighting for New Zealanders in Australia, or for our produce industry. No one can blame the ‘unidentified guest’ for wanting to boost his public profile a bit, but everyone should blame him for putting that above the needs of his country.
If John Key won’t get tough with issues that matter, then he shouldn’t be Prime Minister. I think that we’ve all seen that David Cunliffe knows where the problem lies, and will fight for New Zealanders abroad and at home, while our current government poses for flashy photos.