Key says will vote for English as National leader in December 12 caucus vote; says National can win 4th and 5th terms with English as leader; Key says wants quieter life with family; eyes board positions in Australasia or Asia

Key says will vote for English as National leader in December 12 caucus vote; says National can win 4th and 5th terms with English as leader; Key says wants quieter life with family; eyes board positions in Australasia or Asia

By Bernard Hickey

Finance Minister Bill English is set to become the next Prime Minister of New Zealand as soon as next Monday, although he has not formally put his hand up for the job yet.

John Key's shock decision to resign as Prime Minister has set the ruling National Party up for a short contest for leader or coronation of a new leader in just seven days.

English put out a statement paying tribute to Key, but did not specifically say he would stand for the leadership.

He held a news conference this afternoon to say he would consult with caucus members and his family before making a decision in the next 24 hours. He said he did not expect an early election because of the leadership change and said he did not expect a lengthy or divisive contest for the leadership, suggesting he expected the caucus to quickly coalesce around a leading candidate.

"The caucus has only known about this for two or three hours and I think we just want to give ourselves a bit of space," English told reporters in Parliament.

"I personally would like to be able to talk to members of caucus, talk to my famiIy in considering it. I certainly appreciate John's endorsement," he said.

Key said he told English of his plan in September and it would be unthinkable for Key to endorse English without English wanting the job or having the numbers. The other contenders are seen as Steven Joyce, Paula Bennett and Judith Collins.

Key has made his preferences clear in his statement and in a news conference.

"I didn't want ambiguity on my part," Key said at the news conference.

"If I didn't think he was right to be Prime Minister, then I shouldn't have thought he was right to be deputy," he said.

"Whoever becomes the leader, and I have put the cards on the table -- the cards that I hold -- I think they will be a fine PM and I think they will demonstrate to the country that they are worthy of a fourth term," Key said.

"And so often in politics leaders leave because there's a coup and they stay a bit too long and they white ant the next leader and there's no clear air for the person to take over and demonstrate what they are capable of doing," he said.

"And what the country wants is strong and stable leadership and I think if we can transition to a new leadership team and do that efficiently, with unity and dignity, then I think we can provide that."

'No pre-arranged deal'

Key denied he had a long-established deal with English to hand over the leadership, as was the case with the British Labour Party's Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

"I am not going for those reasons, no," Key said. "He, I think, genuinely believed he would never get the chance to do this and he has been the most utterly loyal deputy that I think the country has ever seen," he said.

'Economy the major success'

Key said the economic leadership of the Government had been his biggest success, along with its response to various crises.

"Very few countries are in the financial position we are in. We are strong, we are in surplus, we are growing, we are creating jobs, we are doing well. I think secondly we have shown good leadership in those difficult times NZ has faced, whether it be the Christchurch earthquakes, most recently Kaikoura, I think with Pike River, the Rena, the Global Financial Crisis, there has been a lot of things there," he said.

"I do think as a govt I am very proud of what we have achieved in terms of trying to help vulnerable New Zealanders. There was a lot of advice to me to pull the rug out from underneath them in 2008/9 when I first came in and I stood by those people," he said.

"And I know there will always be people who say I didn't do enough, but I think that we did everything that we could practical to the circumstances that we had."

Little ready for election

Labour Leader Andrew Little said he was just as surprised as everyone else at the decision.

He paid tribute to Key for his contribution to Government.

"John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication. Although we may have had our policy differences over the years, I respect the Prime Minister’s decision to stand down," Little said.

“I can empathise with his reasons. Politics requires much sacrifice. We may all be politicians, but not all our lives are politics," he said.

“The Prime Minister has served New Zealand through times of considerable global instability, and will leave politics proud of his achievements. I wish him and his family the best for the future."

Labour was ready to fight the next election, even if there was an early election, he said.

(Updated with more detail, reaction, English's comments)

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Knighthood, somewhat more deserved than most, if you believe in those sort of things. Unlike Muldoon he at least has had the grace & patience to step down first. Undoubtedly the most effective and modern PM we have had internationally, his legacy at home remains open to debate.Largely through his fresh approach and modern style of politics he has left the Labour Party far behind, way back in time, in a room without windows. Also English has come into his own in this enviroment and is now very well equipped one would think to step up.

Will BE aka 'Double Dipton' be given a poisoned chalice?



Has everyone forgotten that BE has already lost a general election?
Abysmally...I must add.

Exactly, the top 5 at National are hardly inspiring.

I could possibly see Coleman, but the others already have far to much mud stuck to them.

If it's Collins I'll vomit up a lung.

If I saw Coleman I'd go to Specsavers: but Adams PM/English Deputy come election time could be on the money.

Like the ex Merrill Lynchs head of global forex that he is MrKey has made a calculation
about what lies ahead and is bailing before the crash

He has utterly ignored the migration numbers outcry for years and has sold the public
a positive negative with a big smile and flippancy.

Bill English will be foolish enough to accept the poison chalice and history will only record
what a great legacy PM Key handed to a hapless Bill English

John Key provided confidence to outsiders viewing NZs economy Then he became a worldwide
laughing stock ponytail puller . His world status hit regardless of what anyone says otherwise. To me that was the beginning of the end and undoubtedly he felt it along with everything else. No fourth record term.

Good Luck Bill English & be very prepared for rocks falling on the road ahead

That the rock star economy might be about to OD was one of my first thoughts as well, but I also wondered if the rest of the party is trying to get him to see the Super age must be addressed, or maybe Pike River has gotten to him. I also thought perhaps ill health, not necessarily just his, might be an issue.
Whatever it really is, it does seem odd, the timing and and all. I guess time might reveal the real reason, if he has just run out of puff would be a pretty pathetic reason.

Key worked for Merrill Lynch, not Lehman Brothers. But I suspect you know that...

Indeed. Jeff Skilling springs to mind.
Skilling resigned suddenly. It was a shock to all concerned.
He cited "family matters" for his resignation and made assurances that Enron was in better shape than ever.

Enron filed Chapter 11 less than 4 months later.

Yes, quite the obscene betrayal of New Zealand families hoping to purchase there first family raising home, do the numbers?I would suggest that this next generation of homemakers will need to take on a completely unnecessary Extra HALF A TRILLION of additional mortgage debt and interest payments, over the next 30 years,due to keys National misgovernance,of immigration policy and outright deceptions of non-resident purchaser competition.Let alone their do just about nothing responses on the supplyside issues.
Throw them out, no Knighthoods earned!
Half a trillion extra,by thd time those families get through the ownership mill and mortgage drudge

Don't forget non-citizen buyers ie foreign students and temp visa workers.

In Singapore, Australia and Canada they have classified these foreign buyers also and charged Stamp Duty.

Of course it must've slipped my mind Gareth
Merrill went bankrupt a few months later of course

The outgoing PM has done his job.
After all these years I'm sure it takes a toll.
The constant pressure must be immense.
Well done Mr Key.

Labour has a good chance of regaining some of its lost voters now to be honest, as Noncents said the top 5 are hardly inspiring.

I can't see Labour making any ground on this. Labour are just too incompetent at the moment to make any sense of this - they will draw the wrong conclusions and continue down their dismal policy approaches.

Nah. Labour are being patient and its just won handsomely for them. Release any decent policy now and key would have just copied it. Andy little has been in politics a very long time and is no fool. Not saying I'll vote labour, but write him off at your peril.

I can't see Labour learning the right lessons. For too long they have held a delusion that somehow Key was "fooling" New Zealanders as though it was just him. So now that Key is gone they will just think it is their turn. I know some don't find the National top 5 inspiring - but the Labour bench is old and tired and has not been refreshed in 9 years sitting in Opposition. I am calling it now - National will win the election; maybe NZ First as partner.

Donald Duck could be leader at the next election for National and they would still get in. Little comes across as a nice guy, but he ain’t got it I’m afraid, plain and simple!

...forget it. National toast. They are brexit and Hillary mk 2. The lies, bluff and bluster, avoid the issue and spin strategy has no hope in hell getting through until next nov. biggest hope is an early, as in right now, election.

Sorry pal, Labour are a standing joke and have no chance. Little isn't PM material even the party know that.

A long way off till Nov so plenty ot time for the anger to build.

A weeks a long time in politics and we have yet to see the Gareth Morgan influence. If Nats will turn off the immigration tap (unlikely as its all they have), get serious on climate change, tackle property (ring fence tax losses at least, sort out land bankers another), then sure, they will be in with a chance. If none of the above, the will be toast.

There will be no influence from TOP, there has never been one new party that has come into parliament since MMP, 5% threshold will be too high, perhaps if 3% was prerequisite it would work.

"There will be no influence from TOP" " Trump hasnt got a show" "Brexit won't happen". Wake up Mr PK, times have changed...anything might happen.

Fool's hope

Entirely possible. And who said I'm hoping for it? Ignore lie and bluff like key and co has done....and we end up with brexit, dangerous nationalism and trumps. It's a warning you fool, not a hope.

Question is if Bill English knows the real reason of JK resignation and is dirty will he wants to stand to clear it.

Hoping to hear some decipherable English on the TV from now on, pun intended.

I am not making this prediction but....
I wouldn't be shocked If English took over and the housing market slumped in 2017
Just a feeling, not a prediction

Whilst I think Key is a nice enough fellow and a good statesman, I think he has failed to tackle NZ's most pressing issues

Did Key try to tackle any issues at all apart from the coloured fabric rectangle that dangles above official buildings?

Even in his departure he is happy to shaft his closest colleagues. Many of his senior ministers would have been happy to get near 100% certainty of another three years of ministerial limos etc and then retire. If Key had resigned 6 months after winning the election for them they wouldn't have cared. Now who knows what their fate will be?

But JK gets to write his little bit of history for himself. So it goes.

Let's look at things:

Housing: he promised much when first elected. But he has presided over the inflation of a massive housing bubble, the destruction of the 'NZ house owning dream' and growing homelessness. His government's rhetoric has been a miserable failure. Myopic belief in the market to solve the problem. Right focus on supply side, but nowhere enough focus on demand side

RMA reform: very little achieved. Tinkering.

Education: little progress, inequality of outcomes worsening.

Economy: superficially, quite good result...but in reality the economy has been bolstered by high net migration (often of poor quality) and the housing bubble, hardly the basis for sustainable economic growth.

Statesmanship: quite good, I thought he was quite good on the international scene, and I think he was good in the face of the 2 earthquake disasters

Infrastructure: not bad, lot of roading projects, and supporting CRL in Auckland is good.

Overall, I'd give JK a C- grade.
Could have been great

Agree on housing, RMA, and education. Would also include local government - much talk no action. Auckland amalgamation unplanned and unmonitored so going nowhere.

Economy: sacrificed every possible opportunity to the promised budget surplus. Instead GDP/capita on steady decline.

Unfortunately NZ residents can't eat statesmanship - thats a personal legacy thing for JK but of no value to us.

Infrastructure: steady decline in rail; proceed from asset sales frittered away on low value Roads of National Significance programme. Increased funding for NZTA highways obtained by reducing roading subsidies to rural councils.

C- is the grade you give to students to make them go away and never bother you again. A mite too generous for JK given how long he has been around.

how bout environment? Little if no improvement?
Water quality miserable. Has it worsened?

Not my area of expertise. Suspect over-enthusiasm for dairying and irrigation means an overall decline. Trying to find excuses for restarting logging n conservation areas. Promotion of mining. Pointless changes to RMA that would allow more extraction from conservation or natural areas. Yep environment backwards as well.

Water quality: reading everything I can on Havelock North Water Inquiry. Very poor quality government regulation a major factor. Technically introduced by Labour but tacitly endorsed by National.

Probably going to be Bill English. If the caucus passes on Bill then what? I quite like Judith, but she is no PM. Paula and Stephen won't get there. Hekia is impressive to me, but probably won't reverse her exit. Woodhouse will need time to adjust not having Key around. If the caucus makes a leap beyond then Amy Adams is a thought. Hugely competent but hasn't pushed herself to the front.
And not this time because he is so new. But Todd Muller is quality.

Gotta be Bill surely.
the alternatives aren't great, and would give Labour a real sniff.

A top man. Our best PM of the last 50 years. Well done John for having the courage to leave on top. Go well

coming into the straight in the PM Stakes in the leading bunch its farmer bill by a head from lord haw haw and crusher with mr blobby fading fast.

It's a bad time for a Prime Minister to resign, with the risk of heavily indebted banks bringing down the financial system. The next Prime Minister could well be a stand-up comedian.
It's a big loss for Wellington. He was a skilled coach with an dry sense of humor. The players that he had to work with were limited though with insufficient technical skill.
Who are we taking about again?

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