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Key decision surprised even our MP

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

The decision by John Key to quit as the country’s prime minister took everyone by surprise including Wairarapa MP Alistair Scott and his fellow back benchers.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Mr Key’s announcement he was relinquishing the job having “nothing left in the tank” Mr Scott said the MPs had no prior knowledge.

“I learned of it from a television conference at midday,” he said.

Mr Key’s departure would create a “huge void.”

“He will leave big shoes to fill but there are some good people in Cabinet and I think New Zealanders realise the government is not just John Key,” Mr Scott said.

Mr Key had worked tremendously hard and had given the job his all, Mr Scott said.

Caucus will get around the table and elect a new leader next Monday but Mr Scott said he hadn’t even given a thought to who that might be.

The timing of Mr Key’s eventual departure from parliament all together means a by-election to fill a vacancy would not be needed.

Wairarapa’s Labour Party candidate at the last election Kieran McAnulty said it had to be acknowledged that John Key had been a “phenomenal force in New Zealand politics” but was on record as saying he could abide losing an election and support for him as preferred prime minister was beginning to slip.

“But I expected him to contest the next election and perhaps then stand down in mid- term, not to pull out so completely and utterly like this, out of the blue.”

He said National would struggle to find a leader to replace Mr Key, as to the party faithful he was the National Party.

“I remember being at the Carterton Daffodil Festival when a busload of young Nats arrived, all of them wearing John Key T-Shirts.”

Mr McAnulty had just returned from helping Labour’s campaign for the Mt Roskill by-election in which the party’s candidate Michael Wood trounced his National Party opponent.

He said he thought that result would send shock waves through the government ranks “but I didn’t think it would end with taking a prime minister out.”

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon said from a farming perspective the resignation of the prime minister could cause an easing of the New Zealand dollar and therefore have some upside for export markets but was more likely top “just create more uncertainty” in the economy.

“The most important thing is for New Zealand to have stable government,” he said.

Mr Falloon said Mr Key had shown great leadership, particularly just lately with the Kaikoura earthquake.

On a personal note he has a bottle of Bellamy’s port wine signed by Mr Key.

“I bought it at a Relay for Life auction thinking because it was signed by the prime minister it could appreciate in value, I am not so sure now.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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