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March 17, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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An Interview with John Key

Tell me something that not many people know about you.

My first girlfriend’s name was Lynette!! [laughs throughout] How bout that?!! That’s something not many people know about me – That’s pretty obscure isn’t it?!! I tell you what, I was born on the 9th of August, and the house we lived in was 9 August place, Greenlane.

What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?

I wanted to be Prime Minister. Why? I think because it’s a revered position in the community, a position of influence, and it always seemed a fascinating thing, and I was intrigued by politics.

Do you hold the same personal beliefs now as when you were a student? – If not, why the change?

I think they change and they change, not in terms of core philosophical beliefs, you know – personal responsibility, and getting out of life what you put into it – a sense of community and family and those sorts of things are as much as anything, a reflection of a function of the environment you have been brought up in, and the way you view life. Inevitably you mature, you change, you gain a slightly different perspective of what is really important. It’s easy to take a view in life that everything is in materialistic kind of terms, like I say it’s nice to have a house, and not to have financial worries, but does it beat going to watch your children playing sport – I don’t think so. There is a Winston Churchill quote about when you are young, you vote liberally, and when you get older you vote conservatively. There is just a bit of, maturing is probably the wrong word, but, maybe the things that feel important in your life change as you get a little bit older, and you take on greater responsibilities.

How has your recent success in the polls affected you?

I think you have got to be very careful, it is just human nature – if you are doing well in the polls and when they are so consistent over the whole board, you kind of feel ‘ok, well this is good.’ I think the danger is, that in the end there is only one poll that counts. So pretty much every caucus, I start with a bit of a lecture about keeping our feet on the ground, keeping focused on where we are going, recognising that the big job is to roll out a program that reflects what government we want New Zealand to be, and it’s never over till it’s over. In that sense, we are certainly not letting it go to our heads. But it’s encouraging.

You seem to be an ideas person – how do you respond to criticism regarding a lack of substance to your policies?

Well it’s not true. The reality is that we have rolled out quite a lot of policies, whether they be education, or health, or various occasions where there has been some very substantive stuff. Governments always say to oppositions, ‘where is your policy, and where is the substance?’, To a certain degree, I take it with a grain of salt. The public have a very good primal sense of where you are going, and I think that they recognise within that, politicians are one part of that bureaucracy. I don’t think there really are any great illusions about what sort of government we would be, or what our focus of attention would be. And to just give you an example, I delivered the speech – the state of the nation speech – in January. And that speech was about youth crime, and also youth education. It was heavily researched; there are mountains of supporting documents. Every editorial in the country came out and said it was well researched and highly detailed that caught me completely by surprise.

You are relatively new to politics, becoming elected in 2002. What do you believe are essential personal characteristics for a politician?

I think the characteristics that you need anyway are honesty and integrity. Ultimately you never really know the issues that will dominate New Zealand’s political landscape in 12 months or 24 months or 36 months. The fact that they can trust you has got to be paramount in the end – I mean I wouldn’t vote for someone I didn’t think I could trust. Secondly, I think you have to have a reasonable sense of values and perspective, and know what is driving you, and what bottom lines are there? What are the things that you are prepared to compromise on, what aren’t you prepared to compromise on? You have to have a sense of vision. I think in a sense, I have, I mean I think I have reasonable personal skills, I think I am reasonably intelligent, I mean I am not stupid – but I can learn things quickly, I can work at a reasonably high level of stress for long periods of time. I very infrequently lose my rag, and that is always a good thing. Like when I was back in the banking business, there were always people who used to go berko, but I reckon if you do you lose control and it doesn’t really help you – I mean it may make you feel better for 5 minutes – but actually long term, you lose respect.

Who are the 3 people you would most like to meet?

That’s a good question. Who are 3 people I would like to meet? I would quite like to meet Tony Blair. These days, Barack Obama, just cause I see lots of him in there. Most of them I have already meet. Who else would I like to meet? Umm, there must be someone else good out there I would like to meet, who I haven’t met – I get to meet heaps of people. Yeah, a movie star – I don’t know. Tom Cruise. [laughs] Tom Cruise. I don’t want to talk about Scientology though, but Tom Cruise.

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