John Key: I'll stay Prime Minister as long as New Zealand wants me

Prime Minister John Key drinks a beer at the opening of the Tuatara Brewery in Paraparaumu. Key says he will remain as ...

Prime Minister John Key drinks a beer at the opening of the Tuatara Brewery in Paraparaumu. Key says he will remain as the country's leader for as long as he is wanted.

Prime Minister John Key says he will lead New Zealand for "as long as the party and the public want me", after confirming he plans to run for a fourth term.

Speaking at the annual Ratana Church celebrations, Key said he was still comfortable in the role and wanted to remain Prime Minister for some time.

"My position hasn't changed: I enjoy being Prime Minister and leader of the party, I think I'm making a difference.

"In the end, I'll only stay there as long as the party and the public of New Zealand want me, but that's [a fourth term] my intention."

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He rebuffed suggestions his decision was due to a lack of potential leaders in the National caucus, and said he had worked hard to "build a good group of people who can take over".

"Nobody is indispensable, even though every leader I'm sure thinks they are, the truth is if you're no longer in the job, someone else will step up and do a very good job."

Key also dismissed suggestions he was motivated to pass Keith Holyoake's 12-year stint as Prime Minister.

"I don't think being Prime Minister is a longevity test, I think it's about whether you actually make a difference and whether the country's in better shape than you found it."

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Key sported a new lapel pin with Kyle Lockwood's alternative Silver Fern (Black and Blue) flag while at Ratana, and said he had noticed more Lockwood flags flying since his return from holiday.

"I went for a walk along Omaha Beach yesterday and there were six flags I could see, five of them flying the new one."

He believed the debate was generating strong interest in the flag, and hoped Kiwis would make more use of whichever one won the referendum.

While polls have indicated the current flag is likely to triumph, Key said the increased prominence of the Lockwood design would increase its sense of familiarity and make the public more willing to consider a change.

"I've been out and about in my electorate last week, some of the more conservative bits of my electorate told me that three or four months ago they were opposed, now they're in a favour, so I think there's a bit of a groundswell of change."

Key said he would "certainly" fly the Lockwood flag somewhere at Parliament if it could be done within the rules.

 - Stuff


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