After a tough few weeks in politics Prime Minister John Key might have needed a few words of encouragement. The boost came from his first boss, who told him yesterday: "You're improving."
Warren Bell employed Mr Key straight out of university in 1982 as an auditor at McCulloch Menzies.
"He used to order me around, tell me I was doing a terrible job, give me a kick up the backside," Mr Key said.
He admitted it was "some kilos ago", when he was "a much younger, fresh-faced-looking person".
The worry lines have deepened after weeks of negative headlines over water rights, John Banks, illegal spying on Kim Dotcom and generally gloomy economic news.
But Mr Key was in a chirpier mood yesterday as he toured the Kapiti Coast.
He began by opening the new Tuatara brewery. "I was very excited when I was looking in my diary this morning," he said.
The beer was a "great product", although he confessed to being more of a wine man.
With the Government under fire for a "jobs crisis", Mr Key was happy to celebrate a business that had started from "small, humble beginnings" and now employed 25 people.
"It doesn't happen because government makes it happen," he told staff at the firm. "All the Government can really do is set the environment which allows people to put at risk their own capital to make it work."
Accompanied by Otaki MP Nathan Guy, Mr Key toured the site of the new Ryman Healthcare retirement village in Paraparaumu, where he ran into Mr Bell, a director of the firm.
A nail gun was a useful outlet for remaining frustrations.
Enthusiastically firing metal into wood, Mr Key pledged to nail Labour, the Greens, the Dotcom mansion and asked: "Where's Winston?"
His mood didn't darken when news came through that the Government's annual accounts were worse than forecast.
"In the end, you can sit around feeling sorry for yourself as a prime minister and as a government. Or you can just get on with the job. I'm in the category of getting on with the job."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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