Peters: I'm sorry for baby George

Last updated 16:12 08/04/2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe says Prime Minister John Key "stage managing" international visits.

Fairfax NZ
DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Labour leader will get his own "facetime" with the visiting royals.

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PM John Key and royal family
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GREETING DUTIES: Prime Minister John Key greets the royal family on their arrival into Wellington.

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Politicians should show "a bit of elegance and a bit of taste" rather than chasing photo opportunities with the royals, NZ First leader Winston Peters says.

"I'm starting to feel really sorry for baby George and it's only day one," Peters said today after being asked about the amount of "face time" Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe were getting.

"I just would hope that we don't see this obsequious subservient photo-opportunity behaviour. You can guarantee I won't be part of it."

In reference to Key's infamous "three-way handshake" at the end of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Peters said: "You are going to have a multiple handshake now, possibly of five people at a time."

He called for "fewer politicians screaming to get attention just because the royals are here".

To the best of his knowledge he had no "face time" with the royals.


Earlier today, Labour leader David Cunliffe took a swipe at John Key over the royal visit, suggesting the prime minister was milking the extra "face time" with Prince William and his wife, compared with his own limited meetings.

He also described a possible visit to the White House as "pre-election PR from the prime minister " who was "stage managing the calendar of the year as it suits him".

But he conceded "it may not be the first time prime ministers have stage managed international visits".

Cunliffe said it was very  important that the treatment of the royal visit was as even-handed as possible between the government and the opposition, and also that the visit was well-spaced from the election.

The split between the government and the opposition should be as even as possible - but it wasn't, he said.

Labour was positive about the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and they were very welcome in New Zealand.

"We are not going to play politics with it," Cunliffe said. He would "leave it for New Zealanders to decide" if there was sufficient gap between their visit and the election.

Apart from a one-on-one meeting with Prince William, Labour would be part of only one other event, a trip to Blenheim on Wednesday.

Cunliffe repeated he would let the people of New Zealand draw their own conclusion if that was fair or if he was getting enough "facetime".

Asked why Key had so many events with the royals Cunliffe said, "I guess he likes the camera time."

Key said that he would not be at the "vast, overwhelming" number of events on the royal visit schedule and did not believe he was milking the event.

"I don't actually think anyone's going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we're seen standing next to the royals when they're in New Zealand," Key said.

"They vote on the economy, law and order, health and education. As soon as David Cunliffe starts talking about that and not this sort of rubbish, he might do a little bit better."

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At his one-on-one meeting with the prince, Cunliffe expected to discuss those issues the visitor wanted to raise. He would also be happy to brief him on things Labour thought were important such as building a fairer and more decent country and including everybody in the opportunities.

"I'm sure that he would agree with that."

He would also talk about the deeper economic issues, such as the problems with the balance of payments.

"He's a very well read and a very substantive person and a very charming person so I am looking forward to the meeting."

- Fairfax Media


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