Key to go to ACT breakfast

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 10:09 16/07/2013

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It's no cup of tea, but Prime Minister John Key is to make an appearance at an ACT party breakfast next month.

The party will hold the private event for supporters, at Auckland's Stamford Plaza hotel on August 2.

Party president John Boscawen confirmed Key would be a special guest, but did not want to say if he would deliver a speech.

The appearance is sure to raise eyebrows after an election party publicity stunt - in which Key took tea with ACT leader John Banks - ended in a police investigation.  A freelance cameraman recorded what Key said was a private conversation at the November 2011 cafe meeting.

Boscawen confirmed Key would attend. ''It's not so much the prime minister, it's actually the Right Honourable John Key. When he attends private political functions like that he doesn't come as the prime minister.''

He agreed Key would be a drawcard. ''It's a very strong signal of his continuing support but I've got no doubt that he does support ACT very strongly...he would want the ACT party to be there in 2014 so that it can contest in 2017.''

It wasn't unusual for Key to give public support to coalition partners, he added. ''I've always found John Key very happy to have photo opportunities with both [Maori party co-leader] Tariana [Turia] and [former co-leader] Pita Sharples.''

Boscawen, a wealthy businessman and former minister and MP, is footing the bill for the breakfast. He said it was not a fundraiser. But he added: ''We are a small political party and like all political parties we need to raise money from our supporters.''

The event will not be open to the media.

Labour party deputy leader Grant Robertson poured scorn on the appearance: ''First it was afternoon tea, now it's breakfast,'' he said. ''It's clear John Key still wants to keep ACT on life support, even though the public have abandoned them. It's a sign John Key will continue to make desperate deals to prop up a government.''

He said political leaders attended events held by support parties, such as conferences or annual meetings, but it would be ''highly unusual'' for them to front up to a fundraiser.

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