Annette King versus ‘the Prime Minister’

Annette King targeted John Key’s hair pulling in Question Time. Bill English responded on behalf of the Prime Minister (who is still in the Middle East).

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Jo Muir’s on-the-fly summary at Beehive Live:

English is responding on behalf of John Key and says yes, based on his observation, he agrees.

King is asking whether Key’s behaviour was appropriate in terms of the hair pulling incident.

English says the PM apologised and long before it was reported in the media.

King has just mentioned Key’s comments of “horsing around” and someone on opposition benches is neighing like a horse.

That’s unlikely to be someone who has been criticising Key for childish behaviour.

English is defending the PM saying that his “inappropriate” behaviour is particularly disappointing considering it’s unusual for him to act like that.

Winston Peters is asking how Key explains the numerous photos of him stroking the hair of young girls and what psychological behaviour that is?

English isn’t impressed and is dismissing the question.

Peters is asking, putting the Auckland cafe incident aside, has Key apologised for all the other times he’s stroked hair inappropriately.

English says if anyone felt he had behaved inappropriately they have means to complain.


[Sitting date: 28 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes. It was an observation based on watching the third term of the previous Labour Government.

Hon Annette King : Was pulling the hair of a woman worker in a cafe arrogant, veering off into a space where he had not been before, or just totally inappropriate behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, it was totally inappropriate behaviour, for which he apologised to the young woman concerned and, I might say, well before public attention was drawn to the matter.

Hon Annette King : Does he think that in modern New Zealand it is OK to describe repeated and unwelcome pulling of a young woman’s hair as banter, horseplay, joking around; if not, why has he attempted to minimise his weird behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The Prime Minister has not attempted to minimise the behaviour; he has acknowledged the inappropriate nature of that behaviour and dealt with the issue when it was drawn to his attention.

Hon Annette King : Was the National Party warned of his hair-pulling behaviour before his actions became public; if so, when?

Mr SPEAKER : In as far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Of course the Prime Minister had an indication about the behaviour, because the young woman raised it with him and he apologised to her. I might say that the Prime Minister has, through intensive interaction with the public over a long period as leader of the National Party and as the Prime Minister, observed almost always the highest standards of appropriate behaviour.

Hon Annette King : Was there any communication between his office or his staff and Rachel Glucina or the cafe owners following the breaking of this story?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I have not had the opportunity to establish whether or not that is the case, so I simply cannot answer that question.

Hon Annette King : Does he stand by his statement that he “needs to be better at reading the tea leaves” when making decisions about how he will behave in public ; if so, how often does he use tea leaves for advice?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, the Prime Minister does stand by that statement. I might say that part of the Prime Minister’s disappointment at these events—

Grant Robertson : He did it!

Hon BILL ENGLISH : —and the inappropriateness of his behaviour is that in almost every other respect his interaction with New Zealanders is positive.

Hon Annette King : What is the difference between his behaviour and that of Aaron Gilmore’s?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : They are different circumstances and have both been dealt with appropriately.

Hon Annette King : I seek leave to table a Facebook post on the National Party’s website—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I do not need any further assistance. It is available to all members if they want to look for it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the numerous Parnell cafe incidents, how does the Acting Prime Minister explain the countless photographs of Mr Key stroking young girls’ hair, and what psychological condition is that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I reject all the imputations of that question. The Prime Minister has a track record that I know Opposition parties resent, and that is of very positive interaction with the whole range of the New Zealand community. In this case he has acknowledged the inappropriateness of his behaviour and dealt with it well before it came to public attention because, in his view, if the young woman felt that way about the behaviour, then it clearly was not appropriate and he had to deal with it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the Parnell cafe case, what about the numerous other cases where he has not apologised at all? How does he explain that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Almost without exception the interactions the Prime Minister has with the New Zealand public are not the subject of complaints. In fact, more than any other Prime Minister, he is open to those interactions and they are positive. If anyone felt that he had acted inappropriately, they are able to raise that issue and, I think, as indicated by this incident, the Prime Minister will take responsibility for his behaviour and apologise accordingly.

Hon Annette King : Has the Deputy Prime Minister ever advised him that he undertakes such behaviour in public?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Very generally, the Prime Minister has been able to conduct a very positive relationship with the broader public without the benefit of advice from the Deputy Prime Minister.

Leave a comment


  1. Budgieboy

     /  28th April 2015

    I simply cannot believe that they wheel out Annette King to front this!!!

    FFS as Deputy Leader a young man ran naked from HER home apparently in terror after unwelcome attention from a senior colleague – being a high ranking MP – of hers.

    This ponytail thing is light years from what happened that night! (yet still totally wrong)

    God help me the chutzpah of these people is incredible.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th April 2015

      Could be deliberate hoping English would refer to that incident and they could try to implant the impression in the public mind that they were on the same level of seriousness.

      • free-buffing

         /  28th April 2015

        My biggest worry, is that JK doesn’t find it necessary to flee overseas in order to escape McCready’s pending accusations, and look to hide under Helen’s skirt at the UN 😦

  2. I actually thought Jan Logie’s questions to Louise Upston were more telling, of the issue; even the minister for women’s affairs appears to be trying to cover up for the PMs disgraceful antics.. SHAME !!

  3. kittycatkin

     /  28th April 2015

    I can’t remember what happened with the naked runner. Why would one be naked with a gay man unless….well, you know ?

    This whole issue has been blown up out of all proportion. You’d think that he’d made some disgustingly indecent approach. To waste Parliamentary time on such a non-event is pathetic; Annette King can’t have much to think about.

    • David

       /  28th April 2015

      I think you sum it up perfectly. The labour caucus is quite contented at the moment as Little is not asking them to do any work at all, it’s 150 pa and when was the last time you heard from a labour mp who had actually done any work.
      I think the caucus has given up because the party and unions keep giving them rubbish leaders, why bother if your bid is tits


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