Otago Daily Times
‘Quit leaking or quit party’ Key tells Nats
WELLINGTON: Former prime minister Sir John Key had a blunt message to any National MPs who continue to leak against the party: ‘‘If you can’t quit leaking, quit the party’’.He was speaking at National’s annual meeting in Wellington on Saturday morning, where he, leader Judith Collins and president Peter Goodfellow addressed supporters.
Ms Collins spoke about the opportunities that lie ahead for National and how the party could take power in 2023.
Mr Goodfellow, who was reelected as president on Saturday night, however, attacked the media and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The most applause of the morning came after Mr Key took aim at National MPs who had been leaking to the media.
‘‘Here is my very simple advice to those who like to leak to the media — if you can’t quit your leaking, here’s a clue: quit the party.
‘‘The public look at it and say ‘For goodness sake, if they can’t run their own party, how on earth will they run a country’.’’
He told MPs that it was all right to disagree and to debate ideas but he said that should be done privately.
Speaking to media after his speech, Mr Key said the leaking did play a part in National’s election loss, although there were several factors.
‘‘It was a difficult backdrop for National to campaign on but we have to own our own mistakes.’’
He said National needed to unify and regain the support it lost.
During the speech, he urged MPs and members to remember one number: 413,800.
That’s the number of people who voted for National in 2017, who switched to Labour in October’s election.
Without them, Mr Key said, National could be in opposition until 2029.
He said it was very important National had a ‘‘liberal, multicultural, outwardlooking face’’.
He said, ‘‘Some people are going to tell you that eventually the public is going to get sick of Jacinda Ardern.’’
But he said that was a mistake.
‘‘It is exactly what the Labour Party said about me for nearly a decade.
‘‘If we underestimate Jacinda and her advisers, we will be in Opposition for a very long time.’’
Mr Goodfellow, on the other hand, struck a markedly different tone in his speech to the 500 or so in attendance, who said the election descended into a ‘‘race of celebrity leadership in trying times’’.
He said reasonable debate on contentious issues almost became ‘‘treasonous’’.
He praised Ms Ardern on her clear communications in a crisis, but that’s where the goodwill ended.
He referred to the 1pm press conferences, often fronted by Ms Ardern, as ‘‘televangelistlike gospel to the masses’’.
‘‘Democracy, for a period of time, gave way to temporary tyranny.’’
That was the reality in a ‘‘Jacindamania world’’, Mr Goodfellow said.
He then turned to the media, calling some of the coverage of the election ‘‘infectious, clickbait journalism’’.
Speaking to media afterwards, Ms Collins would not be drawn on Mr Goodfellow’s speech.
‘‘I think the president did an excellent speech. It’s one where he, I think, contributed very well to the party’s AGM.’’ — The New Zealand Herald