March 03, 2013
Key still on top
Opinion: Like any other politician, John Key is eager to put a positive spin on everything he does – and on any report reflecting on his Government's performance.
He doesn't do a bad job of that either.
He's got an upbeat manner and a ready smile.
Māori and many ethnic minorities have taken a liking to him and he's fairly handy at highlighting any facts, however sparse, that suit his case.
So maybe it's no surprise he is still leading the polls.
But, when you take stock of all the prime minister's stumbles and stuff-ups, you can't help thinking that, by now, he's used up more than his quota of good luck.
Of course, despite all the razzamatazz about his credentials he didn't have much of an apprenticeship for the job.
What he had done was make a lot of money by gambling in the financial market.
That probably indicates that he's quick-thinking, is cool under pressure – and that he really likes making money. And a good many Kiwis have assumed that, by using those attributes on behalf of New Zealand, we might all benefit.
Sadly for us, all his job demands a bit more than the skill, the temperament and the priorities of a gambler.
It requires, for example, an understanding of the 1840 guarantee of tino rangatiratanga for Māori – and an appreciation that we're a South Pacific country rather than a British colony still bowing and scraping to Pom royalty or trying to curry favour with the Yanks.
It needs an awareness that, as Kiwis, we're more concerned about the welfare of the underdogs than about more luxury for the fat cats.
And we're not all that thrilled by a PM going to bat for the sort of MP John Banks has proved to be.
So, along the way, our Mr Key – as affable, unpretentious and likeable as he may often be – is building up a daunting list of failings.
There's been his pro-pokies deal with SkyCity, the skin-flint 25 cent an hour rise in the minimum wage, the Nats' obsession with having a whack at the beneficiaries, the loony fixation with selling state assets – and the equally loony assertion that he has a mandate for that from the last election.
And then, to top it off, year in and year out, he marshals the resources of the state to oppose Māori interests – as he's been doing on the water rights issue.
One of these days perhaps he may be able to point us to a secret clause in the Treaty of Waitangi which makes it clear that the Crown has a sacred responsibility to oppose Maori whenever Pakeha interests may be inconvenienced.
What other explanation can there be for his behaviour?