Protesters lash out at Key over Budget

Protesters and SkyCity security clash as they try to storm a lunch at SkyCity hosted by Prime...
Protesters and SkyCity security clash as they try to storm a lunch at SkyCity hosted by Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Dean Purcell
Chants of "John Key's a millionaire, that's why he doesn't care," and, "One, two, three, four, stop the war on the poor" rang out as Prime Minister John Key began his post-budget speech at Auckland's Sky City Convention Centre this afternoon.

But Mr Key seemed unfazed by the noisy reception, joking with business leaders that the rowdy bunch outside should read the Budget.

One of the protest organisers, Blockade the Budget spokesman Tim Lamasse, said they were protesting against continued cuts to tertiary education.

Class sizes were increasing, government funding was decreasing and university rankings had been dropping under the National Government, he said. "We've had enough."

More than 20 police officers worked to contain the protesters, forming human barriers outside the Sky City Grand Hotel, and entrances to the Sky Tower to prevent the protesters storming the convention centre.

Bemused tourists were escorted from their taxis by police and ushered through a heavily guarded side door.

Inside the convention, Mr Key began his speech by saying that while Finance Minister Bill English was disappointed that the Budget had dropped as the lead story from a major news website by 6pm yesterday in place of a story about a cat saving a boy from a dog, it showed there were no great shocks in the Budget.

He joked to the crowd of business leaders gathered that he preferred to see that than another headline about his daughter Stephanie removing another layer of clothing in the name of art.

Referencing the protesters still gathered outside, Mr Key apologised if convention members were intimidated, adding that as the protest had been organised before the Budget was released, it was highly unlikely they had read it.

"Maybe they should go away and have a bit of a look at it first."

- Brendan Manning of APNZ

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