Today I wanted to go out on a political limb and talk about the incredibly highly polling Prime Minister John Key.

Apparently I am in the minority not being among the 59 per cent of New Zealanders who continue to rate him as our most trusted party leader, according to last week's Fairfax-Ipsos poll.

Interestingly, Greens co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman followed Key in second and third places at 52 per cent and 49 per cent, with Labour's David Cunliffe on 46 per cent.

On Twitter, I read someone's witticism that Key is like that new boyfriend of your best friend you don't like but can't say anything - you just let the relationship take its course and hope she comes to her senses sooner rather than later. But with several years of unusually high personal favourability ratings, is there a break-up on the horizon?


I've never met the man in person but I have watched him on TV at parliamentary question time and I don't like his style of answers. To me, he comes across as a smart-arse high school kid. Maybe that's his appeal? Someone you want to have a beer and a laugh with, they say.

Not me, especially not if he invites around his potential ally, Colin Craig, leader of the Conservative Party. Craig has threatened defamation six times, this time because of the way Norman drew attention to his views on women and gay men.

My other pet peeve with Key is that he reminds me of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. When I lived in Australia, Abbott did not inspire me as a force for good. But since I've left, even I am surprised with the news coming out on environmental matters - allowing dredging at the Great Barrier Reef, culling threatened great white sharks and investigating removal of world heritage status for thousands of hectares of Tasmania's forests.

But the most sickening news is the continued lack of respect and basic human rights shown to people seeking asylum in Australia. Just last week, 23-year-old Reza Barati was killed during attacks on the Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea.

Now there are witness stories coming out, it is horrific. One employee, Liz Thompson, who has now resigned in outrage, said it was "an experiment in the active creation of horror to deter people".

Some think of boat people, as Barati was, as queue-jumping illegals. But there is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. The very concept of seeking asylum is because you can't follow the normal channels.

I attended the Red Cross World Refugee Day event at Parliament last year and got to hear first-hand the incredible stories of New Zealanders who started life as refugees, including a Burmese woman who lived in fear at a Thai refugee camp for 26 years, since the age of 2. Now settled here, she said "in New Zealand, I feel like a human being".

Ironically, this was also the day our Government passed legislation that allows for mandatory detention of groups of asylum seekers arriving by boat, against our international obligations.


I want to be part of a country where we can be proud of caring for our vulnerable global neighbours. Let's not try to keep up with the Aussies by imprisoning those who have already been scarred in their homelands.

The sad reality is that New Zealand's refugee quota has not changed in 27 years. We actually take fewer refugees per capita than Australia. Check out the website campaigning for a doubling of our refugee quota,

I have been heartened to see thousands of Australians hold candlelight vigils for the Manus Island detainees. I hope their Government recognises the compassion in its citizens and reviews their approach. It wouldn't hurt for our Prime Minister, his mother an Austrian Jewish immigrant, to put some pressure on and distance us from Abbott's position on this critical humanitarian issue.

As Desmond Tutu says: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." That's just not the Kiwi way.