16 Nov 2011

John Key cuts short 'tea tape' questioning

7:17 pm on 16 November 2011

National Party leader John Key has continued with his refusal to answer questions about the secret recording of his cafe conversation with the ACT Party's Epsom candidate, John Banks.

Mr Key cut short questions from reporters on the issue on Wednesday afternoon, having earlier in the day walked out of a news conference.


He said the media may be interested in the contents of the recording but the public cares more about issues such as the economy and law and order.

Mr Key received some support on the streets as he campaigned in the Rimutaka electorate.

Several members of the public approached him during his walkabout in Upper Hutt to sympathise with him about the taping of the conversation.

Mr Key said he has taken a principled stance on the matter and won't be changing his position.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Key walked out of a news conference when reporters persisted with questions on the recorded conversation.

He had been speaking to media shortly after 11am, after addressing a Federated Farmers National Council meeting at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.


Radio New Zealand's reporter said Mr Key repeated that he wanted to talk about the economy and the issues that matter to New Zealanders.

But with the assembled media intent on asking Mr Key about the tapes, the National Party leader cut short the news conference after just a minute of questions on the recording.

He calmly turned and walked away as reporters continued to call out questions.

Mr Key again declined to respond during a photo opportunity at the Beehive at about 12.30pm.

He said he was not upset about the questioning but did not think the issue of the recording matters.

Mr Key has laid a complaint with police over the recording of the exchange he had with Mr Banks on Friday.

A freelance cameraman left a microphone on the table during the meeting at an Auckland cafe and gave the recording to the Herald on Sunday which said it decided not to publish the contents for legal and ethical reasons.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says Mr Key should answer legitimate questions about his conversation.

"For a Prime Minister to storm out of a press conference I think is unprecendented in my time in politics.

"I can't remember a Prime Minister, going back to Muldoon, that was so brittle that they couldn't take the heat of answering valid questions from the news media."

Mr Goff said John Key should answer fundamental questions such as why he is keeping the ACT Party alive when 99.3% of New Zealanders don't want it back in Parliament.

"He's the one that's doing the deal, so what was the nature of that discussion?"

Mr Goff said the public would move on to other issues once once Mr Key reveals what was said in the conversation.