Key defends Murray McCully

Last updated 08:50 27/02/2012

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Prime Minister John Key has defended his Foreign Affairs Minister, saying although Murray McCully is not missing in action, he has "absolutely no clue" where he is.

McCully has been in the media in recent weeks after Fairfax media revealed his private email account had been hacked.

He has admitted his Telecom email account had been hacked between last April and June but has refused to confirm the authenticity of the alleged emails saying he would not comment "on stolen material".

McCully has also refused to comment on news 305 staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will lose their jobs as part of the Government's drive to cut costs.

He has also been unavailable to discuss the situation in Syria.

Today, Key was asked why his minister won't front.

"I have absolutely no clue where he is, being the foreign minister he travels all the time and I haven't had a need to speak to him in the last few days," he told Newstalk ZB.

McCully was not commenting on restructuring at MFAT because he wanted chief executive John Allen to explain the changes.

"MFAT is a great organisation but most people within that organisation would accept there is some need for change and modernisation of that organisation.

"Yes, is likely to have less people in the organisation as a result of that.

"I think they would say they have some people in the wrong jobs in areas, and one or two in the wrong places."

MFAT was built up when NZ First leader Winston Peters was foreign minister under a deal with the then Labour government, Key said.

"They were frankly different economic times and we can't afford that right now."

McCully "certainly would front" on the changes at the ministry, he said.

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