John Key – inspiration for Australia’s next prime minister

by Toby Manhire / 27 March, 2013
The NZ leader has “the essential quality of public trust” that Australian counterparts lack.
Honest John: How Tony Abbott must envy Key's trustworthy eyes.

New Zealand can boast an impressive trade in human exports to Australia – in the form of a migratory flow that has bedevilled both this government and the last.

And now even the prime minister is being imported by the Lucky Country. Or, at least, his image is.
According to a column by Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher, the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, is jealously gazing over the Tasman at John Key.

“On first blush, the conservative Prime Minister seems an unlikely role model,” writes Hartcher.

But his track record, and consistently high popularity polling, makes him a hugely attractive figure.

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.

The Liberal party leader and likely prime-minister-in-waiting has been sending his lieutenants across the Tasman to take notes.

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 programme 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.

At the heart of Key’s popularity in the eyes of Liberals, and Hartcher, is “the essential quality of public trust”.

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.


Related content:

UK pundit names John Key as top "conservative hero"

Tory MEP toasts John Key - or "Low Key"
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Donna Chisholm: Defending David Dougherty
Teeks: The soul singer whose voice will give you goosebumps
71775 2017-04-29 00:00:00Z Music

Teeks: The soul singer whose voice will give you g…

by Lydia Jenkin

Growing up immersed in waiata (and the sounds of Bob Marley and Elvis Presley), soul singer Teeks has a voice that gives people shivers.

Read more
Book review: Human Acts by Han Kang
Port in a storm: How long will it take to rebuild Wellington's quake-hit docks?
71836 2017-04-29 00:00:00Z Business

Port in a storm: How long will it take to rebuild …

by Tina Morrison

Wellington’s CentrePort’s “marathon” quake rebuild is led by a chief executive who has lived through the experience before.

Read more
Hardcore exercise could be harming your sex drive
71590 2017-04-29 00:00:00Z Health

Hardcore exercise could be harming your sex drive

by Nicky Pellegrino

According to new research, pushing your exercising to the limits can have dire consequences for health, libido and fertility.

Read more
The power of an electric cargo bike in Auckland
71804 2017-04-29 00:00:00Z Urbanism

The power of an electric cargo bike in Auckland

by Paperboy

"It’s a way back to the freedom of youth, when kicking around on a bike with friends was one of life’s great joys."

Read more
Politicians aren’t talking to us this election year, but to Winston Peters
71902 2017-04-28 14:08:09Z Politics

Politicians aren’t talking to us this election yea…

by Jane Clifton

We don't want any David Cunliffe cod-bogan attempts to get down with the peeps, but MPs seem to be going way too far in the other direction this year.

Read more
9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welfare' is morally bankrupt
71856 2017-04-28 09:53:00Z Politics

9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welf…

by Guyon Espiner

Dame Jenny Shipley on being the first woman Prime Minister, plus coups and coalitions, welfare reform and Winston Peters.

Read more