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

Audrey Young: John Key's problem with partners

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File

John Key was holding an impromptu press conference in the staffroom at the Holy Cross School in Porirua this morning with Tariana Turia when a reporter informed him the Conservative Party leader (outside Parliament) Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.

Key resisted taking the Lord's name in van and rolling his eyes.

But he did say "it's going to be a long two and a half years."

We knew what he meant - that with Act on the decline and the Conservatives on the up, Key was going to have to respond to every whacky idea that comes out of Craig's undisciplined mouth as a potential coalition partner.

Colin Craig's response is clear example of how morality outweighs rationality in his world view.

I figured it was the moment to ask Key if it might be time to revise his decision to rule out working with New Zealand First - others commentators have hinted recently that he might be considering doing so.

He said not just yet (he doesn't need his vote just yet) but that the board would decide on that before the next election. "We don't need partners at the moment and I ruled them out and I intend to stick with that position for this three years. Could it change in the future? Who knows? That's a decisIon for another day. "

United Future leader and National partner Peter Dunne wasted no time putting the boot into the Conservatives saying they were "seriously extreme and nutty" which is a bit rich coming from the guy who brought Gordon Copeland into Parliament.

Back in the staffroom another reporter asked Key what was so tough about his job at the moment - something he'd told the kids at Holy Cross.

"It's probably the Maori Party," quipped Turia.

"Oh no," said Key. "You are the easy one."

I doubt she'll thank him for that.

UPDATE: Peter Dunne has been in touch with me to say that what I described as being ''a bit rich'' for him to put the boot in when he brought Gordon Copeland into Parliament was actually ''the voice of experience." Dunne added former United Future MP Larry Baldock to the mix as well.

"It was precisely of their involvement that I came to know what extremists they are, and why it is is entirely appropriate I warn others now," Dunne said. "I found out to my cost I do not others to inadvertently repeat the experience. Believe me, these guys are seriously weird."

Both Baldock and Copeland are with the Conservatives now: Baldock was number three on the party list in 2011 and Copeland stood in Hutt South.

- NZ Herald

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

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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