Nov 19-Dec 22: Swearing-in to the start of a holiday "duty roster" (34 days)
Dec 23-Jan 20: Most ministers on holiday (28 days)
Jan 21-Feb 26: First Cabinet meeting to end of 100-day period (38 days)
Helen Clark, now mentioned as "former Prime Minister", and leader of the opposition Phil Goff are both quoted criticising the timing, given the economic crisis and the situation in the Middle East. The article goes on to note that both the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Treasury Secretary went back to work last week.
Politicians have families, and in an election year, like last year, they don't see much of them, or their friends, and often their partners and others have to pick up the slack. Holidays for Members of Parliament are often crucial times for their spouses, their children, their parents, and their broader circle of friends and whanau, to renew and recharge those relationships. For the partners in particular, the time the politician has off is time they can be focusing on many of those household and familial responsibilities that the partner carries for most of the year. So I don't begrudge Mr Key his family holiday.
The timing though was probably not the best. And this might not have been an issue at all, if National hadn't made grand promises about their One Hundred Days of Action and how they would save us all from the big bad international recession with a speedy response of epic proportions. Taking a holiday part way through that, when you haven't really done much yet, seems a bit, well, weak.
But when your kids are at school it makes sense to take a decent break now, when they are off for more than two weeks. I sincerely hope that people won't choose to use Clark's criticism to bring up the fact she doesn't have children, yet again; Goff has several kids. I was a little confused that Clark commented at all, and I wonder if she was responding to a request from a reporter, rather than seeking the story herself, given that she was apparently on holiday too.
When I think about politicians taking holidays I actually don't think so much about them. I think about the people they share that holiday with, and what that precious time means for them. We ask a lot of our Members of Parliament and a lot of the people who are close to them. They deserve a holiday too.