PM hopes ponytail-gate hasn't embarrassed NZ

The Prime Minister has claimed pulling a waitress' ponytail wasn't sexist because he "could have" done it to a man.

John Key also hopes he hasn't embarrassed New Zealand in the wake of the embarrassing saga, which made headlines worldwide.

Mr Key is back in the country after touring Gallipoli and states in the Persian Gulf, and will face questions in the House this week for the first time since the story broke last month.

He could also face a possible court date, with serial litigant Graham McCready attempting to lay an assault charge in relation to Mr Key's behaviour with waitress Amanda Bailey.  

Mr Key told Radio New Zealand there is a "quite strong" legal view the case won't get too far and would not speculate on whether he'd stand down as Prime Minister if it did.

He has sought legal advice about the case which is part of the process, but he couldn't say if it was in a personal or prime ministerial capacity.

He told TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning that the saga wasn't the "greatest of weeks" for him as Prime Minister, but had taken responsibility for his actions and apologised.

Mr Key reiterated his apology on Radio NZ today, saying he'd "misread the situation" and assured the public the action was meant in "good humour" rather than anything else.

"There is some context there in the wider environment, but every person on the planet would accept I should have read that situation better – I clearly didn't and I regret it and I've apologised sincerely for it."

He "didn't think so from memory" about whether he'd exhibited similar behaviour with other women.

"It's a fairly tactile world we live in. People come up to me all the time. I don't know how many selfies I do in a week or a month. People put their arms around me, lots kids come up to me and all that sort of thing but if you're asking me if it's an issue, then I don't believe it is, no."

When asked if he'd embarrassed the country because of the worldwide media attention of the story, Mr Key said he'd hoped it hadn't.

"But there will be a range of views on that."

He said it wasn't in any papers in the countries he'd been to on his trip, including the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The behaviour wasn't sexist because he "could have" done it to a man's ponytail, Mr Key said.

"There's a bit of context there, the context was there was a very good-natured environment we were in and it was very much a sort of thing in jest, so technically it wouldn't been possible."    

Despite the latest saga, Mr Key says it hasn't diminished his appetite for the country's top job.

Questioned over his commitment to the being Prime Minister, Mr Key said he was "absolutely committed" and that he was doing well, with the economy now stronger than ever.

"I've been working hard over the last seven years as Prime Minister and nine years as leader of the party, and I think that's reflected in the polling."

3 News

source: newshub archive