Key pledges PM's salary to charity

Last updated 00:44 10/08/2008

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National Party leader John Key has vowed to donate "a good part'' of his government pay to charity should he be New Zealand's next Prime Minister.

Key, named in this year's Rich List as worth $50 million, said he was planning to give away a chunk of the $361,000 PM's salary if his party won the upcoming election.

The self-made multi-millionaire said he already donated money from the $224,500 a year he earned as opposition leader.

"I already donate a good part of the pay I receive as Leader of the Opposition to charities and other good causes. I will continue that practice should I become Prime Minister,'' Key, above, told Sunday News.  

Key wouldn't elaborate on what charities he supported, nor how large a portion of his salary he donated. He said his "personal decision" was not something he wanted publicised.

Last month Key was named by National Business Review's 2008 Rich List as one of New Zealand's richest men, with a personal worth of $50m.

Key lives in an $8m Auckland mansion with wife Bronagh and their children Stephie and Max. He also owns property in Wellington and Omaha, a London apartment and a $4.5m holiday home in Hawaii.

In a classic rags-to-riches story, Key grew up in a state house in Christchurch and was raised solely by his mother after his dad died, leaving the family in debt.

But Key went on to study at Harvard University in the US and become a world leader in finance amassing a fortune in the international banking sector before returning to New Zealand in 2001.

He entered Parliament in 2002 after winning the Helensville seat and rapidly rose through the party ranks, being listed at seven on the list before the 2005 election. In 2006 he became leader.

Prime Minister Helen Clark could not be contacted last night about Key's pledge.

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide praised Key.

"Good on him," Hide said. "New Zealanders are generous people ... and John Key is a good example of that."

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons said Key was one of many MPs who donated a percentage of their government salary to charity.

"It's good, but I don't think it's something that should be made into a song and dance. I know quite a few MPs, including me, who make a lot of donations to charity," she said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he believed the move was a politically motivated.

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"I hear a cry of desperation," he said.


- Sunday News

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