PM John Key Doubts NZ Labour's Ability to Manage Country, Refuses to Apologise to Malaysian Diplomat Victim

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By Reissa Su | July 21, 2014 5:33 PM EST

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key criticised Labour's coherence as it prepares for the election in September. According to reports, Mr Key said Labour was "unfit to rule" the government amid the party's poor results at the polls and other internal problems.

REUTERS/Brendon Thorne/Pool
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks at a luncheon in Sydney February 7, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Brendon Thorne/Pool

Mr Key referred to the incident over the week where an anonymous Labour insider had criticised party leader David Cunliffe for taking a holiday instead of preparing for the election.

The prime minister believes Labour party members are "openly attacking their leader." He said if Cunliffe cannot manage himself, he can't "manage the country."

Cunliffe has described the person who anonymously attacked him for taking a holiday as "dishonourable and lacking in integrity." The critic told Sunday Star Times that Cunliffe should be working to win more votes rather than taking a vacation.

Cunliffe said in an interview that he already suspects who the person is but has no proof yet. He added that he was confident the identity of the mysterious Labour insider will be revealed in time. In a speech before the 150 Grey Power members in Nelson, Cunliffe said the attack was a "disservice to the party."

Despite coming out low in the polls, Cunliffe remains confident that Labour will "bounce back." He advised Labour MPs to "hold fast and stick to core messages" to drive them towards a favourable election result.

Meanwhile, Mr Key has refused to apologise to assault victim Tania Billingsley over the government's handling of the Malaysian diplomat case.

Mr Key revealed he has received "unsolicited" reassurance that Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail will be sent to New Zealand in due course. However, no time frame was given by the Malaysian authorities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had previously apologised to Billingsley for the handling of the case. the 22-year-old woman has urged McCully to resign.

Mr Key said he will not apologise unless there's a "serious reason." Malaysian officials had promised to return Rizalman to New Zealand so he can face charges. According to Billingsley, she was "angry" and frustrated" that New Zealand had allowed Rizalman to leave the country.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Brendon Thorne/Pool / )
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks at a luncheon in Sydney February 7, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Brendon Thorne/Pool
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