by Peter Petterson
Rob, and eventually Sir Robert Muldoon, was one of a kind. A professional politician with real nous for politics. A three term prime minister who was lucky to get his third unexpected term. Labour was still recovering from the death and loss of Big Norm Kirk from ill health. Technocrat Bill (Wallace) Rowling was unlucky to have been around when Rob Muldoon was emerging firstly as a leader of the National opposition, and then as a three term prime minister.
Rob Muldoon was a natural performer and master of the new television medium. Bill Rowling was great at hall meetings but couldn’t handle Muldoon in front of the television camera. Then there were those controversial reds under the bed “Dancing Cossacks” and the brown-faced overstayers” adverts made by a foreign company that allegedly had contacts with the CIA, and made similar adverts for the Chilean colonels who had the democratically elected President Allende executed.
Three controversial terms, disasterous economic and social policies, and an equally disasterous decision by an inebriated diabetic Rob Muldoon to call an early election, saw the election of the David Lange – led government and the advent of Rogernomics. The rest is part of history.
The fourth Labour Government had three leaders and prime ministers in its two terms and introduced market economic policies and a so-called trickle down theory. They privatised billions of dollars of state assets and paved the way for the Jim Bolger-led National government in 1990 with a finance minister, Ruth Richardson, even drier than Roger Douglas. With their Employment Contracts Act in 1991, they emasculated trade unionism and severely damaged employment relations in NZ.Throw in a palace uprising in the third term that saw Jenny Shipley overthrow Bolger, and the advent of MMP politics in New Zealand and the emergence of one Winston Peters.
Three terms of the Helen Clark- led Fifth Labour Government was ended by a new type of ‘smile and wave’ prime minister who would stab you in the back when you weren’t looking. This individual, John key, is supposedly the most popular prime minister in history, but one who is detested by the political Left and hated by the poor in this country. He has just been elected to a third term a matter of weeks ago, and today Labour has elected a new leader, former union leader, and former party president Andrew Little. Forward march!