23 Oct 2014

Key's blogger response questioned

4:59 pm on 23 October 2014

The Government has continued to defend the Prime Minister's right to refuse to answer questions about his contact with the right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.

John Key yesterday batted away questions about the matter when Parliament reconvened after the general election, saying he had not communicated with Mr Slater in his capacity as Prime Minister.

100914. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Winston Peters talking about police numbers at Hutt Gables Retirement Village.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Today in the House, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters asked whether Mr Key was Prime Minister all of the time or just some of the time.

Answering on Mr Key's behalf, senior minister Gerry Brownlee said Mr Key was always Prime Minister, but he was also always an MP, a party leader and a private citizen.

Mr Brownlee said sometimes Mr Key acted in one capacity and not the other.

Mr Peters questioned how Mr Key could be a private citizen all the time and in what capacity did he speak to Cameron Slater.

At Parliament yesterday, Greens co-leader Russel Norman used the first question time to ask John Key how many times since November 2008 he had spoken with Mr Slater or texted him.

Mr Key replied "none" in his capacity as Prime Minister.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report today Winston Peters said that sometimes such answer might be acceptable, but it was not in this case.

The MP said the idea behind Mr Key's response was preposterous and would have given former US President Richard Nixon an out had he chose to use it over the Watergate scandal.

Mr Peters said Mr Key's answer to Dr Norman was a new low in lack of accountability to Parliament.

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