A derelict on duty.

John Key clearly loves his sports and hates funerals. In 2012 he opted to attend his son’s high school baseball tournament in the US (and spend a week in New York) rather than attend the funerals of the soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan that year. In the following year he did attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral (in spite of his sketchy recollection of where he stood on the Springbok tour and the general issue of apartheid while it still was in force) but skipped that of Hugo Chavez (I cannot say I am surprised). Last year he declined to attend the funeral of Saudi King Abdullah (departed regent of a country that is a major trade partner and which sends a sizeable compliment of students to NZ each year). This week he declared that rather than attend the funeral of Lee Kuan Yew, considered to be the greatest Asian statesman of his time and a leader who forged close diplomatic and security ties with NZ, he is off to the see the Cricket World Cup final in Melbourne so that he can “support he boys.”

In his place will go Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who has done the drill before.

Mr. Key’s priorities seem a bit out of kilter. First he disrespects the fallen warriors in order to watch an inconsequential sporting event and visit his well heeled pals in NYC. Now he skips a major opportunity to cement ties in SE Asia and reaffirm NZ’s respect for a seminal world figure in order to watch a game of interest only to the Antipodean neighbours and die-hard followers of that particular sport. In fact, Mr Key appears to prefer combining sport and holidays with affairs of state, as his Hawaiian golfing foray with Barak Obama attests. But funerals over sport? Nah.

There is a difference between being a politician, a political leader, and a statesperson. A politician serves as a representative and legislator and acts most immediately according to personal ambition framed by partisan logics. A political leader provides direction and vision to his party and the nation at large, sometimes sacrificing immediate personal or partisan gain in pursuit of the national interest. A statesperson subordinates personal and partisan interest to that of the nation and the larger global community.  S/he looks at the big picture first and foremost and orders his/her priorities accordingly. At his or her best and as much as practicable, a statesperson sacrifices personal and political self-interest in pursuit of the common good, both national and global.

John Key may be an avid sports fan (after all, he has appeared on the sports radio show of that paragon of domestic virtue, Tony Veitch). But one thing is even more certain: he is no statesman.

7 thoughts on “A derelict on duty.

  1. Chris Trotter talks of a “…tight little political and journalistic clique clustering around John Key…” – presumably he hasd names in mind. And in a memorable turn of phrase, a poster (sammy 3.0) over at the Dimpost notes “…One of the less admirable traits of our media is that criticizing the PM is lese majeste…”

    The lack of comment or criticism of Key on this issue seems more evidence for the prosecution of a dereliction of duty by a tight little clique of senior journalists and their lese majeste attitude towards Key.

  2. Doctor!

    Your last paragraph is legendary for its irony

    Your last sentence is legendary for its grip on reality.

    I have privately thought for some time now that when ever the issue is geopolitical in nature, our prime minister and any of his ruling cohorts are way out of their depth

    It is as if they have been so over awed by the presence of the US President, that any sense of NZ sovereignty is lost.

    NZ’s current political masters are a bunch of yes men no ones.

    Theses people need to ask themselves the question of ” How that want to be perceived” in future generations

  3. Now, now Edward. If you are going to use titles as a form of address, I would prefer to be known as “Exalted Cyclops.” Otherwise I agree with you.

  4. Sanctuary:
    I would hazard that most mainstream media being under resourced try like hell not to lose access and are concerned about becoming another 4th estate persona non grata in the beehive like NZ radio if they critique too hard.

  5. He certainly seems averse to political corpses, thus he was a no-show for the Osborne election night wake.

  6. After the RWC John Key’s presence at sporting events is the kiss of death for his favoured side–even his kid’s team lost in that baseball tournament.

  7. I missed this comment earlier, but I agree it was a big deal that John Key missed Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral. But this reflects the decline of John Key. In opposition he made a big deal of his meeting with LKY, and his lack of comment / acknowledgement / priortisation is embarrassing for NZ. The unfortunate triumph of provincial values under Key’s premiership.

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