Hooton and Farrar slag Key – With friends like these…



julius caesar


The Panama Papers continue to simmer and National’s greatest fear is that the public will link tax-dodging to the current government. (Up-coming political polls will be interesting to see.)  But that is not all that National’s hierarchy has to worry about.

Closer to home, National is facing “Third Termitis” and an increasingly cynical view of  the government and it’s leading figures – even from within.

Some recent ‘digs’ at  Dear Leader John Key by right-wing commentators – ostensibly friendly to National – are either miscalculations, or a subtle hint that respect for Key’s leadership style is waning.

Case in Point #1 – David Farrar

On 2 May, National Party pollster and  apparatchik, David Farrar made a guest appearance on Jim Mora’s afternoon Panel (hosted that afternoon by Jesse Mulligan), on Radio NZ. Along with lawyer Mai Chen, they discussed the issues of the day;

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“…foreign Trusts and how much the Prime Minister was involved in our tax laws.”

The issue of what Key’s lawyer – Ken Whitney –  said to then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay arose amongst the Panelists, and host.

Ken Whitney, the executive director of tax-trust specialist, Antipodes Trust Group, wrote to McClay on December 3, 2014, over concerns Inland Revenue were reviewing the sector;

“We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the industry. I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime.

The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders who are keen to engage to explain how the regime works and the benefits to NZ of an industry which has been painstakingly built up over the last 25 years or so.”

Key refuted that he had “advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime“;

“One of the members of the tax, that group, the foreign trusts, asked me about it. I said I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, I don’t think that’s right that there are changes, but go and take it up with the minister.

Subsequently there’s miles of paperwork that shows all the stuff he did, I had no other involvement other than that – it happens every day to me, people come up to me all the time and say ‘what about x or what about y?’ and I say take it up with the relevant minister.”

Bear in mind when this conversation took place: December 2014.

Key is clear in his recollection of the conversations he had with his then-lawyer, Ken Whitney, and then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay;

Mr Key was insistent he made clear to McClay the connection between himself and Mr Whitney, when he alerted his minister to the approach from his lawyer about the trust rules regime.

“I’ve seen his comments, what he basically said was he couldn’t absolutely recall but it was two years ago but I absolutely told him – 100 percent.  It’s a few years with an oral conversation that lasted a few seconds but I definitely told him.”

Which is intriguing, as Key has a somewhat dubious reputation for having a shockingly bad memory of events that are uncomfortable for him to recall and discuss. Especially when journalists are present.

A particularly extraordinary example of Key’s inability to retain recollection of events took place in November 2014, when Key “forgot” a txt-conversation he had had with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater;

“He sent me a text one time, but I can’t remember when that was.”

In fact, the txt-conversation with Slater took place only eighteen hours previously. Which resulted in headlines like this one;


John Key 'genuinely couldn't recall' text messages - mediaworks - Cameron Slater


When the issue of John Key’s memory and reputation for lapses arose, Farrar made this revelation;


“Oh I’m not sure I quite accept the assertion there. I found in my experience the Prime Minister has a remarkable good memory on things. There was – I had a conversation with him the other day on something, where he referred to ‘Oh I think there was something in January, um, 2007’, and he was right. It took me half an hour to look it up, but he remembered this thing, from what was it, nine years ago. So I think actually he generally has a very good memory, just not a perfect one.”

Farrar’s willingness to share this aspect of  John Key’s mental state is reassuring. It means our esteemed Dear Leader is not suffering on-set Alzheimers  Disease or any similar brain-debilitating condition, when he insists he cannot re-call an inconvenient event.

It just means Key is lying.

Thank you, David Farrar, for clearing that up.

Case in Point #2 – Matthew Hooton

The next person to offer a singularly unflattering insight into Key’s personality was right-wing commentator and a member of the neo-liberal cadré, Matthew Hooton.

Hooton has a regular 11am appearance on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon show, where he offers his views from a right-wing, free-market perspective. He speaks frankly on a variety of issues-of-the-day and can be as highly critical of National; it’s policies; and leadership, as he is on the Left.

Hooton’s own investigation into  Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi farm-in-the-desert deal should be required-reading for all New Zealanders, regardless of their political persuasions. As political scientist, Bryce Edwards wrote in May last year;

Perhaps the strongest views are from Matthew Hooton, who has two columns in the National Business Review (which have just had their paywalls removed). The first column, Gulf games fail to deliver, gives the background to the fallout between the New Zealand Government and Saudi Arabia, with Hooton largely blaming John Key. According to Hooton’s story, the Saudi businessman was led to believe that the incoming National Government of 2008 would resume live sheep exports.

Once in power, however, Hooton says that Key changed his mind on hearing that TVNZ would broadcast “a programme critical of live sheep exporting. In a panic, and fearing further criticism from the Green Party’s Sue Kedgley, Mr Carter was ordered by Mr Key’s media staff to go on TV and rule out any resumption of the trade, ever. This was later confirmed to the Saudis as New Zealand’s new position and negotiations ceased. Furious, Mr Al-Khalaf used his influence with the Saudi royal family to ensure the FTA was put on ice”.

Hooton’s second must-read column, Flying sheep endanger McCully, turns the focus to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, suggesting that his subsequent handling of the mess could lead to his sacking. Hooton suggests the whole deal is “implausible” in terms of the bizarre farming arrangements and partnership that the Government has established.

He doubts that the promised innovative “agrihub” will actually eventuate and “If not, people might start comparing Mr McCully’s dealings with Mr Al-Khalaf with those with Mr Roberts 15 years ago. For which Mrs Shipley sacked him”. Hooton says “Key’s nervous ‘yup,’ when asked if he had confidence in his foreign minister, betrayed concern over where the story may head”.

On 9 May, filling his regular slot on Nine to Noon’s political panel, Hooton voiced his views on the Panama Papers and how – in his view – our Esteemed Dear Leader was handling the growing scandal.

As Hooton discussed cleaning up the trust sector in New Zealand,

“That is despite his government’s obvious negligence in not legislating for greater transparency around the trust industry years ago, when reputable trust lawyers themselves were lobbying for it.”

– one particular remark caught my attention,

@ 2.19

“… From talking to the people in the industry, is that some of the people I’ve been talking to, who’ve been using other consultants up till now I should say, they’ve been trying to lobby John Key on this issue since when he was Leader of the Opposition. And they’ve been wanting him to make the industry more transparent. And Robin Oliver [former head of IRD] was on Morning Report this morning and talked about this. And the people that I’m talking to anyway, they tell me that John Key’s consistently said to them, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely, totally agree, we must sort that out, yep, yep, the government will do that’.

But absolutely nothing has happened. And I don’t think that’s necessarily – there’s nothing corrupt about that. It’s how John Key rolls. It’s a refrain I hear from people in the business community, the education sector, the health sector, you name it, John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear, and there doesn’t seems to be any follow up.”

“John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…”  – a very brief, off-the-cuff remark – but one which goes some way to perhaps explaining Key’s popularity with the public. Even those who might stand to be disadvantaged by his policies.

An example of occurred in 2008, during the PSA Conference, when Key made a firm committment resiling National from any future asset sales;

“There’s no agenda to sell assets. There will be no asset sales in the first term – in fact there may never be asset sales in the year’s ahead.”

His speech can be viewed here.

In the same video clip, Key also resiled from weakening Union power;

“Yes, I support Unions, and I support New Zealanders’ rights to join unions. And no, we’re not proposing to change the Employment Relations Act in a way that weakens unions…”

Seven years later, amendments to the Employment Relations Act were pushed through Parliament. The amendments weakened Union power;

National has highlighted employment law changes as one of its key priorities in the first 100 days in Government. Proposed changes will affect collective agreements, the 90-day trial period, strike action and rest and meal break provisions.


The changes will give employers more power during the bargaining process.

As Hooton pointed out, “John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…” – and Key was speaking to the 2008 PSA Conference.  Union delegates were told precisely what they wanted to hear.

Coupled with Farrar’s comments about Key’s “very good memory” (and by a process of elimination, therefore a liar) – and we have two right-wingers close to our esteemed Dear Leader  who have shared their personal observations with “how John Key rolls“.

However, the public may not be as gullible to Key’s duplicitous charms as many would think.

In October 2009, Key’s popularity rating (3News/Reid Research Poll) was at a staggering height of  55.8%.

By July 2015, his popularity rating had fallen to 38.3%.

Whether consciously or sub-consciously, perhaps the public are coming to the same realisation that Farrar and Hooton are at; our Prime Minister is a con-artist.

And a damned good one.





Radio NZ: The Panel with Jim Mora – 2 May 2016

NZ Herald: The Antipodes email – John Key, his lawyer and foreign trusts

Radio NZ: PM’s private lawyer lobbied government on foreign trusts

Radio NZ: I told McClay about lawyer, says Key

Fairfax media: How is John Key going to spin this one?

TV3 News: John Key ‘genuinely couldn’t recall’ text messages

Radio NZ: The Panel with Mai Chen and David Farrar – Part 1 (alt. link) (audio)

NZ Herald: Political roundup – The bizarre ‘bribery’ and flying sheep scandal

Radio NZ: Key ends week deeply satisfied

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton (alt. link) (audio)

TV3 News: Labour: Key promised no job cuts, asset sales in 2008 speech

TV3 News: Highlights from Key’s 2008 ‘no job cuts’ speech (video)

MoBIE: Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

Radio NZ: National’s proposed labour laws

Other bloggers

The Paepae: John Key is getting a reputation as a liar

Previous related blogposts

The slow dismantling of a Prime Minister continues

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 16: The sale of Kiwibank eight years in the planning?








= fs =


    • It being succinctly documented and his word being meaningless are in themselves meaningless. It’s all meaningless minutiae.

      Most people don’t care. When the next distractors are created and the next ones after those are thrown up, they’ll care even less.

      It has been said before but John Key could do something foul and disgusting, cruel and horrific, illegal and insane on live TV in front of the country and people would blame the leftist scum media.

      • You know what else people do or don’t do when they don’t care enough?

        They don’t vote 🙂

  1. Excellent article from Bryan Gould in the NZ Herald today.

    ‘ CLUNK !!! ‘

    Matthew : ” What was that ??!!! ”

    David :” Just another chunk of Teflon falling off the con-ma… I mean PM, – bound to happen sooner or later ”…

  2. When are you allowed a prime time TV slot to reveal and present more such stories, Frank?

    You should be put on at 7pm, at least as a contributor to a new program on TVNZ or perhaps even TV3, as this crap we get at that time at present deserves NO time on air at any given time.

    But as we know, the mainstream media is so tied into commercial contracts, that is advertising revenue earning contracts, they cannot possibly risk upsetting their commercial bosses and friends to get upset by anyone daring to criticise John Key, his integrity and performance, and that publicly, for all to hear and see.

    Good work yet again, presenting us the obvious, which is a must read for all those that care about this country and how it should be governed.

    • Instead of the “things you never knew” bit about Top Gun movie that made the 6PM One News last night – what was that all about?

      • Agreed, Hennie. I was gobsmacked when I saw that bit on the news last night.

        With all the shit happening in NZ, including people living in cars, was that really the best TV1 could offer us??

        No wonder people are uninformed.

  3. “Anyone not happy with up to 3 billion in tax cuts after National winning the 2017 general elections, dear friends?”, asks John Key now.

    Middle class voters hear this and say, “yeah, dude, you get my vote, more cash in my pocket, throw more “pretty useless” beneficiaries off their lazy WINZ “hammocks” and get them working, and throw those “bludging” Housing NZ tenants out of their taxpayer subsidised homes, and let them pay market rates”.

    This is the same agenda followed by virtually all right of centre neoliberal governments in the developed world, and sadly too many fall for it.

    • Well tax cuts is the electoral bribe this time round – but get a load of this !!!

      Remember just before the last elections National were in a tiz about just what Nicky Hager was writing about in a new book he was touted to be releasing at the time ?

      And why there was consternation and wondering because of it in the National party camp?

      Here’s an article all about foreign trusts and tax havens and NZ’ers involvement from 2013… and mentions our lovable Hong Kong lawyer working for those ‘ chop chop’ Chinese businessmen…along with scads of Kiwi lawyers, accountants and business people… many who are still around.

      And its been going on for years in various guises … so much so that this latest Panama Papers demonstrates Key knew all along what was going on. There’s no way he didn’t know the history of this situation and yet still chose to do nothing but the bare minimum – if that.

      Always did make me wonder at the time just why Micheal Faye tootled off to go live in Ireland… well now I / we all know …

      So here you go … read and enjoy.


      So next time Key and co try to tell you there’s not enough funding in the budget to support our social services… have a wee think who it is that has been busily siphoning off those funds year in year out … and not paying their fair share of the tax burden.

  4. Keys a liar and a bum.

    And he’s coming unstuck. And by trying to win a 4th term he’s only going to be storing up the inevitable voters wrath against him. He knows it and National know it. And if there was a 4th term that is when he will bow out.

    If we were to go back through the years and see the constant lies told – saying one thing and meaning another, getting caught out time and again lying to the public, deliberately forgetting details , passing anti democratic legislation designed to favour corporate interests instead of for the people who voted him in … the only reason he’s in now is the property market and even that’s coming unstuck.

    Now its interesting to hear these admonitions from among his greatest paid sycophants … that Key is in fact a forked tongue double dealing liar.

    When the dam breaks and the trickle becomes a flood , as more instances of being publicly booed become apparent up and down the country , – he will have to be dealing with yet another issue – that of American warships in our harbour.

    This TTPA and Panama Papers is not going to be going away any time soon. And the stench of complicity will cling from here on in like he’s just swum in an open sewer.

    Couple that with the inability created by his own neo liberal ideology which will paralyze any true action taken in alleviating homelessness and poverty , will in fact precipitate …. what was supposed to be the neo liberal’s poster pin up boy ending up being its most damning liability.

    We see it now with the division between Key and his Minister of Finance regarding social funding versus tax cuts.

    And so as we have been constantly told by slanted polls and even more slanted media that Key is the most ‘ popular PM of all time’… will end up being among the most unpopular.

    The lyrics from Jimmy Barnes will be his true legacy and how he will be remembered here.

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    I don’t need crying lies
    I don’t need stupid alibi’s
    I don’t need convertible cars,
    And don’t think you can push me too far
    You got the money, I got the time,
    Nothing better to do, so you might just change my mind.

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    I don’t want to see you again
    I don’t want you for a friend
    I don’t want you hanging around
    I don’t mind just putting you down.
    You got the money, I got the time
    Nothing better to do, so I might just change my mind.

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need

    I don’t have to tell you
    How that you should do your job,
    I don’t want to have to be the one to shock your happy home.

    You got nothing I want
    You got nothing I need.

    • Yeah Wild Katipo!

      Keyster will be liking to hear that old Rolling stones hit about now eh?

      “You cant always get what you want”

      He is toast as his past is catching up with him now.

      It’s time for an honest caring coalition Government eh!

  5. Now that the sleepy hobbits have heard hints about tax cuts if National wins next year they won’t care.
    As long as the gold continues to accumulate in their pockets, anything goes.

    • Well… here’s a suggestion from one of the people posting on the The Standard today,… which to be honest… contains a lot of merit…and could be organised very easily…

      Mass sleeping in cars right outside of Keys – or any tory’s residence. Paula Benefit – any one of them – wouldn’t matter. Do that for a week or two. It could be done in rotation so you would spend at least 1 night of a week with your sleeping bag and alarm clock, – or longer if you wish.

      No more sleeping rough on the streets of Auckland city to prove a point… but instead right outside these peoples homes – or alternatively in the park down the road.

      Think of it in the same light as the ‘Occupy Movement’ .

      So there’s a project for University students, unionists , poverty action groups and all other concerned and angry citizens. A great big fat long line of cars right outside of National party PM’ s and MP’s residences.

      The times ripe to hammer the Far Right – when New Zealand’s homeless garner a news spot on the UK Guardian – you know its bad.

      When people are living under bridges , sleeping in cars and living long term in garages and tents in the so called ‘rock star economy ‘ , …when John Key feeds us bullshit last election about ‘being on the cusp of a brighter future ‘ when people continue to let him talk shit when people are living in these conditions – its time to do something proactive.

      Then let the UK Guardian report on that – with John Campbell interviewing people living in those conditions indefinitely as well as why people are demonstrating.

      No more weasel words or mealy mouthed ‘ sometime in the future’ crap from this govt.

      Name them.

      Shame them.

      EXPOSE them.

      No more platitudes from Key about WINZ or repayable loans for living in a motel putting the very people who can least afford to be in debt even further behind.

      These globalists want to play rough ?

      Lets give em rough by sleeping rough.

      Sleep rough for 1 night a week.

  6. Third term-itis is setting in with National. The longer it refuses to deal with Auckland’s housing instead of relying on the so called market, the more it becomes out of touch with the part of the country that can make or break a Government.

    But by behaving as it is with the Panama papers, the Government is looking more and more out of touch on the whole with New Zealanders. And this cartoon in the Sunday Star Times by Sharon Murdoch shows it nicely:


  7. I agree Frank, the next set of polls will be interesting in that will they reflect the continuing rise of NZF. They are the ones making the gains at the expense of everyone else. This, if it continues will give them the balance of power. Then the big question is who will Winston side with after the election. He would have to be offered a very big carrot to go with the Greens with whom he has little in common. Winston for P.M. might just do it. There is more chance with this scenario than anything to do with the Panama Papers.

    • “Then the big question is who will Winston side with after the election. ”

      Peters has always said he’ll go with the party that has the largest representation in Parliament. That’s usually the Nats. It’ll be 1996 all over again.

    • Contrary to Franks assertions the Panama papers are not simmering. They have been another orchestrated flop. And you’re right about NZF, they are picking up votes from both Labour and National, with Labour continuing to go backwards. Peters will never go with labour as long as the greens are in the mix, he is, deep down, a conservative.

        • Or, he may have learned his lessons and do things differently. The National and Labour parties Peters has coalesced with in the past are very different animals from those that exist today.

          • I’m not sure if they are that different. National simply carries out it’s neo-liberal policis in a more subtle, cunning way. The semi-privatisation of powercos and further sell -off of Air New Zealand are examples. As are sales of state houses and outsourcing of state services (eg, Serco). Coupled with tax cuts and reduction of state services; increasing user-pays, and I challenge anyone to prove that “National […] parties Peters has coalesced with in the past are very different animals from those that exist today”.

            • Fair challenge. I certainly wouldn’t describe the current national government as ‘neo-liberal’. Such a government would not have retained working for families, would not have raised benefits, would not have raised the minimum wage every year…etc etc. There are many voices noting how national have occupied a broad spectrum across the centre of politics, much as blair achieved in the UK. No government implementing a genuine neoliberal agenda can achieve that.

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  9. Key doesn’t give a rats anus he and his mates have got plenty and more than enough to live happily ever after, he doesn’t give a sh*t about the average working man and their families here in NZ.

    Middle NZ need to wake up however, Labour are a light weight version of National

Comments are closed.