Key on economic policy successes, regrets including flag debate and TPP, Christchurch quake and Pike River, losing troops overseas and life in Parliament

Key on economic policy successes, regrets including flag debate and TPP, Christchurch quake and Pike River, losing troops overseas and life in Parliament

Former Prime Minister John Key has spoken about his time in the top job, including successes and regrets, while giving his valedictory speech in Parliament Wednesday.

Economic reforms such as the introduction of 90-day trial periods, government infrastructure investment including the ultra-fast broadband initiative, support for the film industry, advancing New Zealand’s trade agenda and Treaty settlements were billed as successes.

“I’m proud to have led a government that balanced the books,” he added.

Disappointments included losing the flag debate, the Kermadecs issue, and that he had voted against the civil union bill, although Key did say he was glad about the passing of the gay marriage bill. That the Trans Pacific Partnership did not get over the line was another regret.

Key began by referencing his upbringing in a Christchurch state house, and on how his mother had influenced his pragmatic beliefs – Key said he saw himself as a pragmatist, and not an ideolog.

While some had said his pragmatism indicated a lack of principals, Key said that was not true. Principals had been instilled in him during an un-privileged upbringing rather than from the politics 101 textbook, he said.

“Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed,” he said. This included that you really can change your own life not by wishing it were different but by working to make it different, Key added.

Key noted that he had come to Parliament from a different route to many – from Wall Street rather than having come through the party ranks. But while not political at a younger age, he said he had always been a National Party supporter.

In his early years in Parliament, Key said he had received advice to watch top politicians in the House of Representatives as a way to find his feet. He referenced Michael Cullen, Rodney Hide, Winston Peters, Bill English and Simon Power as colleagues whose speeches he watched.

Life in Parliament was odd due to the glaring spotlight and relentless scrutiny, he said.

Serving as Prime Minister had been an incredible privilege, Key said. He noted National entered power in 2008 at a time of economic recession, as unemployment was rising and finance companies were falling over.

He could not help a plug for the infamous cycleway idea that came out of the government’s Jobs Summit, noting how then Finance Minister Bill English had been sceptical on the idea.

Key acknowledged English’s work as his deputy, and said he thought English would prove to be a highly successful PM of this country. “People from Southland get to the point quickly,” Key said after reciting a story about meeting a bunch of school kids from English’s former Clutha-Southland electorate.

Key referenced his infamous three-way handshake with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, saying his natural enthusiasm had sometimes led to problems. Travel, including trips to Balmoral in the UK, China and the Marshall Islands had been a good perk of the job, he said.

He also referenced times of tragedy and disaster while Prime Minister. The Christchurch earthquakes and Pike River were events Key said he would never forget, praising peoples’ resolve, particularly in New Zealand’s second city.

A special mention was given to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who Key said deserved a lot of credit for his work after the quakes. “Christchurch and New Zealand owe Gerry a huge debt of gratitude.”

But Key said no news grieved him more than that of the loss of New Zealand troops overseas. Despite referencing decisions to send New Zealand forces overseas, Key did not directly reference allegations made in Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book released yesterday, Hit and Run.

Current Finance Minister Steven Joyce was thanked for his work as the National Party’s campaign manager and as a close advisor.

Included in the speech were a number of anecdotes, including on the day Key did a parachute jump with the SAS. On landing, he texted Bill English saying “I’m alive,” to which English responded “Bugger.” “Gonna give it another go?”

English was obviously “just a bit more ambitious than I’d thought,” Key said.

Key concluded by thanking his coalition partners, advisors, golfing buddies and family. He said he believed he was leaving having made a positive difference to the country.

“It’s been a privilege and honour and a blast. Goodbye and good luck.”

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A man for the season perhaps, and voters could be forgiven after the social agenda Helen Clark era for voting in what appeared to be afresh straight forward wall st PM

And the do nothing type of social engineering of the National govt has seen vast increases in inequality, people unable to house themselves, far, far too much immigration, becoming tenants in our own land, despite Key assuring us we should not become that. Makes shower heads and light bulbs pale into insignificance, doesn't it?
Whether active or passive EVERY government of EVERY country performs some sort of social engineering.


he came
he smiled and waved
he minced
he created the threeway shake
he had brain fades
he pulled ponytails
he lasted longer in charge than most before
he left
he will be forgotten quicker than most before him

What? No praise for his pollsters? His minders in the PMs office? His hats?

He is the One that got away...Good luck to him for the future.

  • Instigating a wave of immigration against public will, without any public debate or consent.
  • Pushing the TPPA agreement against public will, and against public interest.
  • Pushing through GCSB bill against public will.
  • Encouraging wealthy foreigners to buy as much of NZ as possible.
  • Continuously lying about the extent of Chinese house buying in Auckland. Reducing the opportunities for wealth creation through home ownership for young New Zealanders.
  • Manipulating government departments to support their false narratives, ie on foreign purchases.
  • Insulting our intelligence with a meaningless flag referendum.

New Zealand is an unrecognisable country now compared to what it was before the 5th National government took power in 2008. Before 2008 there were real opportunities for young people. Home ownership could be attained through a bit of hard work and some saving. If you turned on the TV in the evening you’d see proper investigative journalism with John Cambell tackling issues of social justice. Symbolic of the transformation NZ has undergone, John Cambbell has been replaced with American style mindless banter from the likes of Mike Hosking, a National party sycophant who seems to be the most disliked but highest paid broadcaster. The people I speak to have almost no trust in the government anymore, and less optimism for their futures than they had in 2008. Perhaps that will be JK’s biggest legacy.

This obviously coming from a pessimist!

No, it's coming from someone with rational and critical thinking skills. Would you care to name some good things Shonkey did while he was PM?

You are confusing opinions and unsupported statements as critical thinking.

He didnt do austerity like say the UK and crash the economy.

Well, he returned the government to surplus through spending restraints, which the UK will not achieve for years. So in some ways, he did austerity to a greater degree than the UK.


That clearly comes from someone who has an ability to see the truth for what it is.

>"The people I speak to have almost no trust in the government anymore, and less optimism for their futures than they had in 2008. Perhaps that will be JK’s biggest legacy."

Agree. This was compounded by his government's escalating use of urgency to pass laws without the usual process of accountability, and their obstruction and obfuscation of the Official Information Act, reducing transparency.

So, NZ was the pioneer of alt facts or alt truths ?

Met him inside the rugby ball outside Tokyo Tower before the Bledisloe and was totally oblivious at whose hand was being presented for handshake (hungover and more interested in the free coffee). Sitting outside a flash bar near the stadium, we saw him whizz by on his way to the stadium in the limo escorted by the Japanese police.

Reminds me of the diplomatic corps and the NZTE people, Nice enough and self-important, but it's never quite clear what the KPIs are.


No regrets about the housing and immigration disaster he has inflicted on our country.
Spineless and shameless. Good riddance.

He and They deferred the GFC for 9 years but I hear it knocking on the door and its starting to sound angry.


that is the worst part, by not addressing issues, especially when he first came to power, when he was at his strongest the problems will be bigger.
he seemed to be content to kick everything down the road for future politicians and younger people to deal with.
a lot of his decisions were not based on what is best to take us forward but what will keep my popularity high

An especial betrayal for many given how he campaigned on the urgent need to fix the housing crisis and make home ownership for NZers a reality.

Instead, he seemed to concentrate on making home ownership for foreign buyers a reality at the expense of young Kiwis.

An apt buddy for Barrach, you think ?

I never liked the way he would dismiss common polls wit the phrase 'what I think real NZ'ers want'. The idea being if you don't agree then you aren't a real NZ'er.

Running a country by poll?? You can't be serious.

Christchurch does not owe a lot to Messrs Brownlie & Key. The insurance companies & Fletchers owe a lot to Messrs Brownlie & Key because Messrs Brownlie & Key put their interests before those of the people they were elected to protect. For heavens sake EQC under Messrs Brownle & Key acted, deliberately, callously and cynically outside of the legislation, to persecute those who should have been protected by that legislation. Thousands on thousands of Canterbury people would be of the opinion their house, their prime asset, has been stuffed under the watchful eye of Messrs Brownlie & Key and thousands more would share that opinion. Good riddance I say! What a legacy to be proud of. What other PM in our history has ever let such a shameful episode occur?

Good riddance JK! You managed to destroy the trust, built up over generations, that we had in the National Party.

You managed to irreparably damage NZ's future, impoverishing it's citizens in favour of enriching foreigners.

And well ... if it wasn't for your utter incompetence, you would have been easily forgotten!

What will be remembered is that a man of poor character, who routinely lied to the public, who conveniently changed his tune to appease a sycophantic media on a whim, actually achieved very little for NZ other than creating unsustainable migration growth and inflating a massive property bubble.

And don't people know it. I had lunch today with a farming couple, real National heartland types, decent sized farm. They were scathing anti National. They hate this administration and if they are representative of the ill will out there, National have a major problem.

If brothers Conor and Billy are not hearing this across the board then they must be deaf

Perhaps all political parties are drifting away and becoming distant from the voting population.


Key Campbell interview

What do you want to be remembered for?”“Going back to that main point I think it was Muldoon who famously said “I want to leave the country in no worse condition than I found it”.
“Isn’t that a low ambition?”
“Yes I want to leave the country in better condition than I found it and if theres something (I genuinely beleive) It would be lifting our confidence to a certain degree about how we see our selves in the world and what we think we are capable of achieving. Now I think individually there is masses of ambition that sits out there there but can we actually take that and convert that to take the opportunity .And I always thought what was happening in the opposition of politics (of course they would oppose National, that’s their job actually apart from everything else) but it was a bit negative about out place in the world. So we played a bit about whether people coming here was a good or bad thing whether people should invest here was a good or bad thing, or whether we have a trade agreement with parts of Asia was a good or bad thing, but actually in my mind, the reason that I want to say yes to those things is because they are the opportunities that reflect our opportunities to both get wealthier (which is all about what you can do with that money) and then ultimately the oppurtunities for Kiwis. I’d like New Zealanders to feel (after my time as Prime Minister) they have become more confident outward looking nation more multicultural.
The fact that he never had to explain any of that may explain some of his popularity? I.e the media support globalism and multiculturalism.

In a seemingly blokesy shambolic way he moves from the aspirational thing to a deep dive into globalisation as the salvation for NZ. Ignoring the actual governance of a country called New Zealand.
The clever wall/web of words is actually quite difficult for any interviewer to penetrate! So no wonder the Minders chose such a gifted communicator. - the unique mix which NZers would accept - casual & disarming ,yet corporate slick at the same time. Brilliant marketing.

If I try my best to be objective this is how I would describe Key's term:

On the positive, he led a stable government during a time of some instability (post GFC, ChCh earthquakes). He connected well to people. He led his party well, and generally was a good statesman.

But that's where the positives stop for me.

Despite his pledges prior to being elected, he didn't do anything meaningful to address the housing issue.
He has failed at lifting productivity.
He has promoted a 'cheap and nasty' form of economic growth that arguably has more costs than benefits
He has done little for the environment.

Key had some insight into the housing problem in 2007 in his speech to the NZPIF

''We are facing a severe home affordability and ownership crisis.'
John Key 2007

Business -as-usual benefitts the usual business interests.

Corrin Dann
you don't want to get immigration down , to fall though, do you. I just got to say something. I saw you in a speech after the budget and you were in a big room of business people, now some of those were the biggest business minds of the country and you stood up and said: “don't worry about treasuries figure the estimation that it will go back to 12000, you were confident the figure was going to be a lot higher than that.

I just think it is likely to be higher than that

Corrin Dann
But it's like telling them you wanted immigration to be up. You were telling them “ don't worry the demand will be there, the economies going to stay there, that's what's keeping New Zealand affloat