1 Sep 2014

PM John Key back in campaign mode

5:31 am on 1 September 2014

Prime Minister John Key was back in full campaign mode after accepting Judith Collins' resignation at the weekend, insisting the controversy has not derailed National's campaign.

John Key on the campaign trail.

John Key on the campaign trail. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Ms Collins resigned as a minister after an email from blogger Cameron Slater surfaced, suggesting she had been involved in efforts to undermine the then head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Adam Feeley, in 2011. She denies the allegatins.

However, Mr Key's attempts to move on from the Dirty Politics saga were dealt another blow, with staff from his office called before an investigation into the release of a Security Intelligence Service briefing prepared for the then Labour leader, Phil Goff, in 2011.

Mr Key was back out on the campaign trail yesterday, determined to put on a brave face as he faced the crowds in a busy Auckland shopping mall.

While Mr Key was mobbed by well-wishers, Radio New Zealand spoke to some of those people who had told Mr Key they would vote for him, and that they were National Party supporters.

One man said: "It's hard for him. You've got to start with a bit of a clean slate. Just things have to be sorted out and if things aren't working you've got to make some changes."

Asked if he thought Mr Key had made the right decision the man replied: "I think he did, yes. I think if he'd let it go, some of the voters may be thinking, what else is going on?"

John Key at St Luke's mall in the Mt Albert electorate.

John Key at St Luke's mall in the Mt Albert electorate. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

A woman said: "I mean, I know it sounds harsh but it's politics and that's how it goes, so you've got to be practical about it. But no, I think he did the right thing."

Another man said: "As part of politics, I always feel that nothing is 'hunky dory' in this world and Judith Collins is one of those aspects. I definitely don't support that and so whatever happened, should not have happened that way. Yes, it might have damaged some, but we have to see the greater picture."

Asked if he thought Mr Key did the right thing in letting Ms Collins go the man replied: "Absolutely, he should have done (it) before."

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Key attended a Tongan youth event at a Mangere church.

By the time he arrived the news had broken that the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security would hold an inquiry, nine days before the general election.

Staff from Mr Key's office and Mr Slater have been called to give evidence, and it was put to Mr Key that the timing is far from ideal.

"Ah, the opposite actually. I think it's good timing, it's really, really important that the facts are on display. My position's absolutely rock solid. When we changed the law some time ago, we strengthened it to make sure inquiries would happen in a thoroughly professional way. That's what has to happen in these matters, that's what will happen," Mr Key said.

As for Ms Collins, Mr Key is taking advice about what form the inquiry into the allegations against her should take, saying he would have more details about that today.

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