John Key’s trip marred by absence of leadership

John Key’s choice not to raise women’s rights with the Saudi King and to reveal New Zealand troops' location to international media instead of telling New Zealanders first are the latest in a series of leadership lapses by the Prime Minister, the Green Party said today.

John Key’s choice not to raise women’s rights with the Saudi King and to reveal New Zealand troops' location to international media instead of telling New Zealanders first are the latest in a series of leadership lapses by the Prime Minister, the Green Party said today.

John Key’s current tour of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, has been marred by embarrassments, starting with revelations he repeatedly pulled on a waitress’s ponytail, his decision not to raise women’s rights with the Saudi regime and now informing international media about the location of New Zealand troops.

“This trip will be remembered for its absence of leadership from the Prime Minister,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“On this trip John Key looks like he has wanted to appease foreign leaders and journalists more than demonstrating leadership on our nation’s values or informing the New Zealand public about important issues.

“Anyone watching his interviews over the weekend would have been left with the impression that the Prime Minister would be raising women’s rights with the Saudi regime. It shows a real absence of leadership that he chose not to, leaving it to lower ranked officials.

“The key human rights issues in Saudi Arabia are women’s rights. The fact he didn’t raise women’s rights directly means he must have gone soft on the issue.

“Women in Saudi Arabia are beheaded, not allowed to drive, and cannot leave their house without a chaperone. John Key let those women down by not showing some guts and directly raising their rights with their King.

“It feels like John Key put tariffs ahead of torture. Our foreign and trade policy needs to be more principled than that.

“John Key’s decision to brief Dubai journalists on New Zealand troops being in the UAE shows a serious lack of judgement.

"It is simply untrue for John Key to assume the details of the troop deployment is not a news story back home. There has been significant reporting on this issue and, on the back of ANZAC Day, heightened public interest in our military’s activities overseas.

“New Zealanders have a basic right to know about our military deployments. We are not asking for details that would put them in harm’s way, but if it is good enough to inform international media where they are then it is good enough to tell New Zealanders too.

“This lack of leadership becomes more common with third term Prime Ministers, who often prefer to spend long periods of time out of the country with foreign leaders and avoid domestic issues and media,” said Mrs Turei.

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