Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

TPP protests put damper on long Key honeymoon

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It has been one of the longest honeymoons in political history but now Prime Minister John Key is preparing to be hissed and booed at every public outing by anti-TPP protesters.

He was shouted down on Sunday when he tried to make a speech at the annual Big Gay Out festival in Coyle Park. And on Waitangi Day, after giving the lower marae at Te Tii a miss, he was booed by a section of the audience at the NRL Nines tournament at Eden Park.

In the December Herald-DigiPoll survey, Mr Key was preferred Prime Minister by 65.2 per cent of voters after seven years in office.

Helen Clark had been similarly popular, too, after six years as Prime Minister, rating nearly 60 per cent, but had slid to 41.6 per cent by the time she lost office in 2008.

Yesterday, Mr Key said he expected to encounter protesters against the Trans-Pacific Partnership for the rest of the year.

But he would not be changing his public appearances to minimise the encounters.

"... I'm not going to back away from it or engaging with other New Zealanders because you get a small group of very noisy protesters."

Mr Key said a group of militant people he thought were Green and Mana members "hijacked" the Big Gay Out for their own purposes and that deeply frustrated people.

"With the greatest respect, TPP is not a gay and lesbian issue," he said.

The protests followed a large protest in Auckland on February 4.

- NZ Herald

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