Key live chat covers class sizes to Katy Perry

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 13:41 12/06/2012
John Key

ONLINE: John Key covered capital gains tax to Lego during his live chat with Stuff readers.

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Your Prime Minister has a soft spot for Katy Perry's hits and would like you all to be more confident.

John Key this afternoon spent an hour in his Beehive office answering questions from Stuff readers.

The backdown over class size funding changes brought some questions and an admission from Key that the failure of the policy was his greatest regret of the past year.

When asked how he would feel about his son's class getting larger, he said he would be "totally fine," if they were of the magnitude that had been proposed but then last week scrapped.

"I care much more about the quality of the teacher standing before my son," Key said.

"Not adequately spelling out the full aspects of the class size changes" was a regret because a move to better quality teaching was "an integral part of assisting those students who are falling between the cracks," he said.

Key also revealed an announcement on moves to try and protect the critically endangered Maui's dolphins was imminent.

Asked what one thing he would change about New Zealand's culture if he could, Key said: "To be more confident as a nation."

Pressed over the continued exodus of Kiwis to Australia, Key said New Zealand should not be "undersold" as it was in far better shape than almost any country in Europe.

"While its true we lose people to Australia, that is neither new, nor should we misunderstand that a sizeable portion of those leaving are going for opportunities in the mining sector."

Another topical issue raised was the age of eligibility for superannuation, which Key has refused to be budged on.

He said there was "very limited support" for an increase from 65 prior to 2020 and he had "much bigger issues to confront".

Means testing superannuation was not on the agenda and an "ad hoc simple moving of the age" was a "very simplistic way of looking at a very complex issue".

"The most important thing we can do to insulate NZ from all of the costs related to the demographic ageing of the population is to focus on improving NZ's overall competitiveness and growth."

With a more buoyant economy, the Government's finances would be in better shape and Key suggested there would be more of a chance for it to "take a closer look" at an issue such as the low pay of those in elderly care.

On a lighter note, Key was asked to name some of his favourite music choices and he mentioned Katy Perry, the Eagles, and Hayley Westenra.

One clever reader got a picture in to his question about making Lego free in schools - an idea Key said was not in his plans but that was "a lot better than some of the other suggestions" he got.

Asked to nominate an opposition MP to take a job in his cabinet, Key appeared to make a jibe at Labour's Shane Jones, suggesting him for broadcasting. Jones was made infamous in 2010 for admitting to charging pornographic hotel movies to his tax-payer funded credit card.

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Challenged by one questioner to prove he was answering the questions, Key came up with a fact he said no one would find about him online.

"When I was at primary school, I was sent to the 'blue room' for talking. Dare you to find that on the internet. Today, [chief press secretary] Kevin [Taylor] is typing in my answers because he is quicker than I am, and that's why I keep little pixies around the office."

Key admitted surprise at Piri Weepu being selected for the All Blacks at halfback ahead of Canterbury's Andy Ellis, but added: "Yes, but I'm having a bad enough week without wading into the reasons on this."

> Read John Key's live chat replay here

- © Fairfax NZ News

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