John Key, the political jester, the leader who was fawned over by others like Barak Obama who confided he was a political master, the Prime Minister who salivated over selfies, who presided over what some saw as a rock star economy and who was treated like one wherever he went, finally bows out of the business today.

Key will today deliver his farewell speech to Parliament after 15 years in the place, with incredibly more than half of them occupying the top job which just goes to show this was a man on the move. He's like the energiser bunny, he's been recharged are he's off to work part time for a Japanese billionaire promoting disabled golf.

Sitting in the majestic, wood panelled old Legislative Council Chamber he bounced from one exit interview to another, saying a lot but in reality giving away little.

He batted away the rumours he'd heard of affairs and of his son Max getting into some sort of trouble as the reason behind his sudden departure.


It was all about timing he says, to give Bill English the time to take National to its fourth term in office. If there's one thing you can't argue with Key about, it's timing. It's worked for him like few others who've won the Prime Minister's job.

He came into politics with few people knowing what he stood for and leaves with some still in the same boat. But in his exit interview with me his answer to a question that earned me more criticism from his disciples than any other in my career perhaps explains why some people are still a little baffled about his ideology.

The question came during the first television debate he had with Helen Clark in 2008, and it was nothing more than an attempt to get the measure of the man. What position did he take on the divisive 1981 Springbok when he was a student at Canterbury University and had claimed he'd wanted to be Prime Minister since his teens? He couldn't remember.

When he was asked today whether he'd reflected on it over time, he said he had. He said the Springbok tour was a defining event, particularly for those engaged in politics, and said perhaps he should have taken a side and stuck to it.

But he says he always had the view that politics and sport don't mix but he was deeply opposed to apartheid.

If he'd answer the same question today, he says he'd probably have answered it differently just to save himself the grief.

Yeah well not a lot of ideology there!