Trust is Key to popularity

There is a great article in the SMH about John Key’s popularity in Aussie, and how the LNP leaders might take lessons from Key.

New Zealand’s John Key may have set a national goal of catching up with Australia’s level of income per person, but when it comes to politics, Australia is taking lessons from the NZ leader.

On first blush, the conservative Prime Minister seems an unlikely role model. He was a Merrill Lynch investment banker, an occupation exposed in the year he was first elected as more likely to be made up of looters rather than leaders.

And he was known to harbour sympathy for disgraced ideas which dared not speak their name after NZ’s searing experience of conservative ideologues in the 1980s. The dirtiest word is privatisation.

But Key was not only elected in 2008, he was re-elected with a swing in favour of his National Party three years later. He didn’t win an outright majority; since 1996, no government in NZ has, and its mixed-member proportional voting system makes that especially hard. But his approval rating holds up around 60 per cent, with disapproval around half that level.

And this was in spite of walking into office to be greeted by the twin disasters of the biggest global economic disaster in 70 years and the biggest natural disaster in NZ history as earthquakes slammed Christchurch.

NZ is still recovering from both. When Key took office, unemployment was 4.6 per cent; today it is 6.9 per cent. Only around a quarter of the number of the homes destroyed in Christchurch have been rebuilt. It’s a mammoth reconstruction task that is reckoned ultimately to cost 15 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Key’s personable, breezy, everyman style has helped; his competence in handling disasters and running a well-managed government is a real accomplishment.

But he also is a case study of a prime minister who can conduct tough economic reform while taking the people with him, the holy grail of national leadership.

What a great lead off…succinctly summarises just how difficult things have been and the challenges John Key has faced.

For instance, Key raised the goods and services tax rate from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in his first term – and got away with it.

And now Key is speaking the unspeakable. Privatisation of state assets is on the agenda as he pursues a budget surplus in 2014-15.

Australian conservatives have followed the Key experience closely. Indeed, his two election campaigns were managed by the Liberals’ electoral strategists of choice, Crosby Textor. Key is on close terms with Tony Abbott.

And Abbott’s shadow minister for finance and deregulation, Andrew Robb was at a conference in NZ at the weekend, speaking about the opposition’s plans but also seeking ideas.

”The main lesson of John Key is that he’s made a particular point of focusing only on things he said he’d do,” says Robb. ”First, he established a mandate for a policy program and assiduously not stepped outside it.

”But second, if issues come up, he says he’ll take that to the next election,” and establish a mandate for it. In a world of great uncertainty, says Robb, voters crave certainty and leaders need to deliver it.

It’s true that, on the great taboo of privatisation, Key has said he would take the proposal to the people before committing to it. He took the idea to the 2011 election, won, and is now moving to implement in time to bank the proceeds to support the budget bottom line.

Say what you mean, do what you say and ask for forgiveness when you stuff up.

Some of Key’s lessons of mandate and competence may travel to Australia, but he stands on a political platform neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard enjoys – trust. Personal trust created by his life story, and political trust earned through competence.

Gillard has proved unable to establish trust, and, if he wins power, Abbott will have to earn his.

  • minarchist_kiwi

    A great article and really funny that the writer seems in a state of wide eyed wonderment at how Mr Key has managed this, or that it is even possible for a PM to be popular and be trusted.

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      Communist Helen was very popular and trusted I believe…..

  • BJ

    ‘Say what you mean, do what you say and ask for forgiveness when you stuff up.’

    That is integrity.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Could plagerized from “The Last Emperor”.
      “A gentle man, always says what he means and a gentle man always means what he says”

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        The use of the term “Last Emperor” indicates that this will be the last term for the Naked Emperor…..Sheep is now excited

  • chopsuey

    I know people who bag john Key, and when I ask them why they can’t come up with an answer.

  • unsol

    What a fantastic summary & analysis of what kind of leader John Key is & why people continue to support him.

    I am personally a huge fan I agree with his judgment – he has a cabinet filled with some really smart competent people who don’t muck around, face the public when the going gets tough & are not afraid to do what has essentially been taboo for years. Yes I am including Hekia Perata & Ann Tolley in this. I like them. I have no issue with their skills as a Minister. I like Hekia in education & I like Tolley in police. Of course my favourites are Ryall, Collins & Joyce.

    Bill English meh. Maurice Williamson…..puhleeese. Why has he not disappeared yet? Surely there are some young list MPs that would be far better.

    Which reminds me, did you know Maurice is responsible for plumbers charging us a bomb? He is currently fighting a battle about the levies his law enforced – levies paid by registered tradesman that are currently being used to fight unregistered tradesman…..levies which have apparently been overcharged by 1.8million.

    Anyway….

    • jonno1

      I don’t have much time for plumbers collectively (no problem with individuals that I know). They waged a war on drainlayers to toughen up drainlayers’ registration. Sounds fair enough until you realise that the customer ends up paying. What was the excuse? A claim that drainlayers can affect public health as much as plumbers; sounds reasonable at first glance until you remember that drainlayers’ mistakes, if any, are all underground (and were already subject to rigorous pressure testing) while plumbers mistakes can leak crap all over your house or garden. Not in the same ballpark.

    • StupidDisqus

      not afraid to do what has essentially been taboo for years

      it’s been four years. What has Key done? Name even one big real reform!

  • johnbronkhorst

    Leaders lead…from the front….while creating a desire in people to WANT to follow. Key has this. Many “leaders” try to force you to do what they believe is right (and eventually fail).
    In order to get what you know is right, to be done. You must pull people along with you, you can’t PUSH them into it.
    Achieved by force of will and personality. Not by ordering and bullying. Though that does have it’s place for the remaining 3% that won’t move no matter what.

    • James Stephenson

      “Leaders lead…from the front….while creating a desire in people to WANT to follow.”

      As my old Mum said of Maggie Thatcher: Democracy is everyone agreeing to do what the leader wants.

      • johnbronkhorst

        “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
        ― Karl Marx
        Would appear your mother may be a socialist.
        Are you as paranoid as Marx was?

      • http://www.facebook.com/euan.rosstaylor Euan Ross-Taylor

        Don’t know why the down vote James? Very similar to what I was taught, “You are not a leader if people are not following you”.

        • johnbronkhorst

          because he’s quoting ME…thumbs down for the thatcher stupidity.

          • http://www.facebook.com/euan.rosstaylor Euan Ross-Taylor

            Still don’t see a problem except to add a slight change, “Democracy is the majority doing what the leader wants.”

          • johnbronkhorst

            because that is NOT democracy

      • johnbronkhorst

        “Democracy is everyone agreeing to do what the leader wants.” No that would be hitler, stalin, castro, kim the eldest, middle and junior, mao se tung etc. Maggie was ELECTED 3 times 1979, 84, 89. So it is the VOTERS who wanted her…called a mandate…funny how that word crops up a lot.

        • James Stephenson

          You’ve got a very firm hold on completely the wrong end of the stick there, John.

          Maggie was elected, people *agreed* with what she wanted to do…how many focus groups do you imagine she ran before deciding her policy direction?

          Explaining may or may not be losing, but I’m damn sure it ruins a joke.

          • johnbronkhorst

            NONE she was just right…as history has since proven.

    • StupidDisqus

      Please explain just one actual policy Key has introduced that really changes anything.

      Hint#1: Benchmarks are Lange’s Labour (on social & foreign policy); Douglas and Ruth on the economy.

      Hint#2: Gay marriage is a Labour MP’s private bill. Key hasn’t sold anything yet. Key’s “tax switch” is fiscally neutral. Cullen dropped corporate tax 3%, Key only 2%. What has Key done?

      Pretty easy to be popular when all you do is Smile & Wave!

      • johnbronkhorst

        repeal of the electoral finance act.
        revue of the RMA
        cutting public sector expenditure via cutting over staffing
        reorganise the public sector for efficiency
        introduce private prisons and theme of more private sector input to NZ govt. projects.
        Asset sale program
        etc etc etc
        As for Cullen cutting corporate tax….only did that as an election bribe and had to dragged kicking and screaming to do it , Only AFTER many corporations had left NZ citing high taxation and over regulation.
        Colgate
        Much of Unilever (almost all the cleaning products you buy are now imported)
        Mobil and Shell (no more oil blending plats in NZ)
        etc etc all lost forever due to labours ridiculous
        TAX
        RMA
        LABOUR LAWS
        and much other regulatory stupidity.

        • StupidDisqus

          repeal of the electoral finance act. Whoop de fuck!!

          That’s the best you can do?

          review [sic] of the RMA – no real change

          cutting public sector expenditure via cutting over staffing

          reorganise the public sector for efficiency

          You know what – Hellen & co fired a few people too. Name one department actually closed down. Have you seen even 500 civil-servant-bludgers on the street? How about 10,000? Nope.

          Cramming 10 departments into one big ministry doesn’t count.

          Asset sale program

          still hasn’t sold anything.

          As for Cullen cutting corporate tax….only did that as an election bribe and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it

          So? Who cares why any of ‘em do it – what matters is who cut the most. Cullen cut 3% – Key cut 2%. Cullen wins

          However much Cullen nationalized – it is far far less than SCF.

          Let’s just say that if Key actually lead – here are just a five desperately needed easy things to do – he wouldn’t be on 60% – because 60% of the electorate are bludgers:

          – end WFF
          – end govt student loans, charge market rates (say 30-50,000 per year for university study)
          – end the DPB
          – close down KiwiRail
          – close down or sell KiwiBank

          • johnbronkhorst

            end WFF
            – end govt student loans, charge market rates (say 30-50,000 per year for university study)
            – end the DPB
            – close down KiwiRail
            – close down or sell KiwiBank
            and even though I agree with you, what would be the use of being the opposition at the next election, only to watch shearer and co fuck it all up by putting it BACK to where Clarke had it and us…ie in a deep hole.
            Wff has already seen threshholds changed and entitlements reduced
            Interest free student loans won labour the election in 2005
            DPB would lose an election
            kiwirail should be sold for whatever we can get and cut our the loses labour saddled us with
            sell kiwi bank….too right!!

          • Mr_V4

            Easy for Cullen to make all those promises, overpay for Kiwirail etc in the ‘boom’ years, where govt could live high on the hog of the taxation.

  • Dave

    What is more amazing, is it is written by an Aussie Journalist and published in Australia. Now lets think back, how many of NZ’s highly trained and skilled Journo’s have written such a story, No, the Red Card carrying Kiwi journo’s can’t see past Shearers flock. Despicable they are all so politically biased.

    • StupidDisqus

      It’s because they know Key hasn’t done anything. Can anybody say one important thing Key has actually done that Hellen didn’t or wouldn’t do? Nope!

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Yes, dictator Helen was the most trusted and appreciated PM we ever had.

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    “Personal trust created by his life story, and political trust earned through competence” – Absolutely bloody priceless!! Sheep described in one sentence…but wait…is this about John Key? mmmm….rrrr….ssss…

  • http://nzconservative.blogspot.com Lucia Maria

    ”The main lesson of John Key is that he’s made a particular point of
    focusing only on things he said he’d do,” says Robb. ”First, he
    established a mandate for a policy program and assiduously not stepped
    outside it.

    ”But second, if issues come up, he says he’ll take that to the next
    election,” and establish a mandate for it. In a world of great
    uncertainty, says Robb, voters crave certainty and leaders need to
    deliver it.

    John Key is about to destroy his “main lesson” by voting for same-sex marriage. I wonder if he will think it was worth it when it’s all over.

    • johnbronkhorst

      One way or another this is a CONCIENCE vote not a party political one.

      • http://nzconservative.blogspot.com Lucia Maria

        Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fantastic loophole for getting major social changes in.

  • island time

    I often meet with people from other countries who have a high regard for John Key. Opposition parties of course will never pay him his respects. They just try to attack as best as they can, and in doing so, lose their own credibility.

  • StupidDisqus

    But he also is a case study of a prime minister who can conduct tough economic reform while taking the people with him, the holy grail of national leadership.

    What the FUCK?

    Key raised the goods and services tax rate from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in his first term – and got away with it.

    Yeah. Because Kiwis like higher taxes. Because jacking up taxes counts as reform?

    Key has now raised taxes more than Cullen ever did – because GST hits everyone while only a few (mostly state employed) pay the 39% rate.

    Privatisation of state assets is on the agenda

    Pathetic part-privitisation of energy companies, half of which are already private.

    Selling anything important? Hell no!

    The main lesson of John Key is that he’s made a particular point of focusing only on things he said he’d do,”

    John Key has done nothing. We’ve had four more years of Clark policies and are set for another four.

  • johnbronkhorst

    Off the subject but:

    “The Share Offer is expected to open in mid April 2013 and the Share Offer
    Document will then be available.”

    From the letter thanking me for my registration and titled as the next step.
    You all should be getting yours for “this deeply unpopular policy” according to labour and the greens.

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