Prime Minister stuns press pack with cutting comment

By Derek Cheng

John Key, with wife Bronagh, says his vasectomy has been 'highly successful'. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
John Key, with wife Bronagh, says his vasectomy has been 'highly successful'. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Prime Minister John Key revealed yesterday that he has had a vasectomy, providing a new slant on questions about Budget cuts at his post-Cabinet meeting press conference.

Mr Key had been fielding questions on whether parents facing price increases at Early Childhood Education centres would still be better off from changes in the Budget.

The Government is dumping the subsidy to ECE centres that have 100 per cent of their staff trained as teachers but will still fully subsidise centres where teachers make up 80 per cent of the staff.

When asked if he would be happy for his own children to attend an 80 per cent ECE, Mr Key quipped: "I think if I sent my 15-year-old or 17-year-old to early childhood at the moment they'd have a meltdown."

But what if his wife Bronagh had another?

"I'd be extremely worried because I've had a vasectomy. If you're asking a hypothetical question, I would be happy with 80 per cent teacher-led.

"It's probably too much information for the purposes of a press conference."

As reporters collected themselves, he said: "Boy that's slowed things down. Any other questions?"

Did it hurt?

"Not overly, actually. All I can say is it's been highly successful. But anyway, we won't get into that either."

Labour has criticised the Budget and has said that parents facing higher ECE fees - up to $40 a child per week - because of the subsidy cut would be worse off, even after tax cuts.

Mr Key said ECE centres with 100 per cent teachers could shed some of their staff and replace them with non-teacher staff.

The Government was not creating an incentive for 100 per cent centres to have fewer trained staff; the incentive was for those teachers to spread themselves more evenly through the ECE sector.

"Any ECE centre has the option to be only 80 per cent teacher-led, in which case they will be fully funded.

"Secondly, over half of the ECE facilities are under 80 per cent at the moment. Thirdly, those that may be over 80 per cent, quite a lot of them have the capacity to absorb that cost.

"I'm not at all convinced that you will see large cost increases passed on to families. There will be some that in the end [will] want to be 100 per cent teacher-led, and I suspect that will be driven by the parents who send their children there, and they may be prepared to pay a little bit more."

- NZ Herald

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