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Cunliffe upset about Key's time with royals

Tuesday 8 Apr 2014 1:38 p.m.

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has hit out at how much time Prime Minister John Key is spending with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to New Zealand.

But the Prime Minister says he will only be at a small number of events Mr Cunliffe won't be.

"In the vast overwhelming portion of the visits that the royals are taking in New Zealand, I'm not with them. I'm at a few events as Prime Minister, but not many," Mr Key says.

Mr Cunliffe will be with the royals when they visit Blenheim on Thursday and he'll also have a one-on-one meeting with Prince William at Government House in Wellington.

However, Mr Key will be accompanying the couple at a number of other events, meaning he'll get more time with them than Mr Cunliffe.

"I guess he likes the camera time," Mr Cunliffe told reporters today.

"I think it's very important that the treatment of the royal visit is as even handed as possible between the Government and the opposition and that it's well enough spaced from the election," he said.

"We are being positive about this visit, we think the royals are very welcome here in New Zealand and we're not going to play politics with them."

Asked what he thought about Mr Key having more time with the duke and duchess, Mr Cunliffe replied: "I'll let the public draw their own conclusion".

Mr Key believes it's a fallacy being seen with the royal couple will mean more votes for National or fewer votes for any other party.

"I don't draw that link myself, but I think New Zealanders will celebrate the fact they're in New Zealand. I don’t think it’s a particular time for politics and I don’t think anyone's going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we've been seen snapped with the royals," Mr Key says.

"We spent a long time where Helen Clark was the Prime Minister and we didn't necessarily get the same access as the Prime Minister of the day gets, I mean, that's the point."

Mr Key says there will be two events – the opening of the National Cycling Centre of Excellence and Velodrome in Cambridge and a dinner – that Mr Cunliffe will not be at. He also greeted the couple and baby George when they got off the plane yesterday.

3 News/NZN

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