John Key: Gender quota for Cabinet 'stupid' idea

John Key (The Nation)
John Key (The Nation)

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed calls for a gender-balanced Cabinet, calling the idea "stupid".

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has called on Mr Key to follow in the footsteps of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who last year unveiled a Cabinet which was half female.

When asked why, Mr Trudeau simply replied: "Because it is 2015… The fact is, men should be lucky I only made it a 50 percent women Cabinet."

Writing in the New Zealand Herald earlier this year, Dr Blue - herself a former National Party MP - said: "Until gender equality is normalised and becomes part of our DNA, unless women are intentionally included, the system will unintentionally exclude them."

But her former boss disagrees, telling The Nation on Saturday "it would be stupid" to promise a gender-balanced Cabinet.

"I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we've got a tremendous group of talent - from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there's just a bunch of very talented women in there.

"They are there because they're immensely talented. Yes, it's great that they're women, and I think there should be balance."

John Key: Gender quota for Cabinet 'stupid' idea

Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet (Reuters)

He told host Lisa Owen she didn't get her job "because you're a woman".

"You're here because you're a good interviewer and you run a good show."

National gave the country its first female Prime Minister in the 1990s when Jenny Shipley rolled Jim Bolger. Labour's Helen Clark was the country's first elected female Prime Minister in 1999.