Editorial: Key's evasions speak volumes

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 21/12/2012

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OPINION: Everyone should be entitled to some time off over Christmas but eyebrows are being raised after John Key went to ground this week, refusing to answer questions about his education minister.

Hekia Parata's dreadful year continued on Wednesday when secretary for education Lesley Longstone announced her resignation.

The move, 12 months into Ms Longstone's five-year contract, comes on top of the Novopay omnishambles, the backtrack on class-size changes, concerns over charter schools and the backlash against school closures and measures in Christchurch.

If ever a Cabinet minister had a annus horribilis, it was Hekia Parata in 2012.

Yet for the last two days journalists - and they have been trying - have been unable to get Mr Key to answer questions about Mrs Parata, her performance and whether he has faith in her.

Mr Key even gave up his regular spot on the ZB Network's The Farming Show yesterday, with host Jamie Mackay surmising it was down to the education woes.

Mr Key put out a press statement on Wednesday night saying he did indeed back his education minister, but that has done little to douse the calls for her head from opposition MPs and political commentators.

It is not a good look when earlier in the week John Key had time to dance to Gangnam Style on one radio station and take part in a mock wedding on another.

If John Key still supports Hekia Parata then he should have no problem in coming out and saying so.

If he doesn't then that's an even more serious matter, but hiding behind press statements does not cut it when you're the prime minister.

Politically, it is a bad look and one his opponents on the Left will happily exploit.

Labour and Green MPs have been telling any reporter who will listen that Mrs Parata needs to go. Their views fill the vacuum left behind by Mr Key's silence on the issue.

Prime TV last night screened a three-day-old interview of Mr Key defending Mrs Parata. He was happy to publicly back her then, why not now?

ONE MORE THING

At least nine people have died on North Island roads in the past week including a woman in Levin and, on Wednesday, a truck driver near Woodville.

With the holiday season fast approaching traffic volumes will only increase, as will the distances people travel as they head off to see their relatives or head for the bach.

The holidays are meant to be a happy time - please be careful on the roads.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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