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Mike Moore

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, February 3rd, 2020 - 104 comments
Categories: class, class war, Free Trade, labour, trade, uncategorized - Tags:

It’s not often you find New Zealanders who give every single breath they have to the left and do it with resounding and even global success. Such a person was Mike Moore.

The media are calling him a working class hero. I’d like every single Labour Member of Parliament to grow up in a state house with not much like he did, and to do real hard working class work like a freezing works, and be a life union member, like he did. But I’m not going to dwell on that. I’m not going to go over the reasons he got so many national and international awards either.

Instead I want to concentrate on how he brought the most people in the world out of poverty – sure not single-handedly – but arguably he was our most effective player on the world stage since Fraser.

To give just a snippet into how he helped propel New Zealand beyond its agricultural mindset into doing something bold on the global stage, he was in charge of getting Auckland’s waterfront ready to host the first Americas Cup after we won it the first time. At the time, Auckland’s waterfront was a dreary industrial hole. It’s the way it is now because Mike Moore put through the Americas Cup Enabling Legislation that pushed through the planning framework, and got the money through Cabinet to host it. If you stroll from Beaumont Street to the end of Quay Street now, you can see the result of that seed being reborn: a fully rebuilt waterfront.

Mike Moore dying 48 hours after the United Kingdom left the European Union is pretty well perfect timing. We’ve just gone through the high point of globalization after 70 years of trying to form systems that enable us to engage through means other than global war.

Mike Moore strived to ensure that the weak and small countries like ourselves the best chance possible to have a common set of rules and enforcements that everyone large and small would be ruled by. He was a very strong part of this being successfully formed, after decades of diplomatic failure.A world without GATT and the WTO would probably have consigned New Zealand to near total trade reliance on Australia both in itself and to gain secondary market access to other countries. We as New Zealand as a whole are the stronger for Mike Moore’s work.

We were supposed to get an international trade organisation across the world as the United nations got going. That’s how important it was. It was supposed to have been a key pillar of post-WW2 economic reconstruction and development alongside the IMF and the World Bank. Such were the commercial forces within states determined to retain their trade superiority, that didn’t happen for decades. Mike Moore used his every professional breath from becoming Minister to form and strengthen that trade framework.

It took until the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for New Zealand to see the promise that the entire world would fully and finally rid itself of the state subsidies that had held our agricultural economy back from global success. Following the completion of the critical Uruguay Round with Mike Moore leading the charge for New Zealand and which took 8 years of multilateral trade negotiations, the World Trade Organisation began operations on January 1 1995. Mike Moore took the Chair role on from 1999.

The WTO has six key objectives:
(1) to set and enforce rules for international trade,
(2) to provide a forum for negotiating and monitoring further trade liberalization,
(3) to resolve trade disputes,
(4) to increase the transparency of decision-making processes,
(5) to cooperate with other major international economic institutions involved in global economic management, and
(6) to help developing countries benefit fully from the global trading system.

Imagine a world where that didn’t exist. We’ve done really well for 30 years off it. Perhaps it’s coming again.

There’s no doubt Donald Trump has forced the WTO to stop functioning is precisely so he can break the rule-based trade global order that Mike Moore worked so tirelessly and effectively for. Hard-won frameworks can be undone. Trump and the many tyrant nationalists he has spawned want to smash rules and in doing so prepare U.S. companies to smash the weak.

Mike wrote about this intense need to enable small countries such as ourselves to be given a basic platform of fairness, so that the strong did not continue to dominate the weak by simple mercantile bullying. Perhaps now in 2020 it’s hard to remember how protected we were, how intensely vulnerable to British access for our goods, how scary it was when Britain joined the European Common Market and cut us adrift. We were adrift.

He wrote about the triumphs and tragedies of this need to form rules in which the rich and powerful would be held with the same playbook as the small in his book “A World Without Walls: Freedom, Development, Free Trade” (Cambridge, 2003). In it he laid out the benefits of trade untrammeled by global subsidy – higher incomes, lower poverty, better environment, improved governance, and more.

After his time as Chair of the World Trade Organisation, he also edited “Doha and Beyond: The Future of the Multilateral trading System”, which brought together a range of experts in the field and in the context of 2020 is well worth a read, because they anticipate so many of the issues we face right now.

Even in its current state, the WTO is a far more forceful and directive body than anything that’s been formed after Kyoto or the Paris summit on climate change. Gatt and the WTO are the multilateral benchmarks that have enabled the successful CPTPP and the upcoming RCEP (that’s the one with China in it).

It needs a whole fresh generation of leaders who will anticipate such problems as he did in “Saving Globalisation” (2009), and also be supreme operators that forge new internationalist agreements that bind all and that work for the good of all.

It was a piece of extraordinary luck that we had Mike Moore as Ambassador to the United States while President Obama was in power. As a trade expert, he could see no specific need to press an NZ-US bilateral trade deal when the bigger CPTPP lay in store. Pity that the U.S. withdrew from TPP under Trump. If the U.S. had stayed in, there would have been the potential for the U.S. to organize massive trade force against China in their trade dispute.

But he kept going at the post until he had a stroke in 2014. “I’m not a lifestyle guy – if you learn I’m playing golf, shoot me in the back of the head,” he retorted gruffly to one journalist. He needed no sinecure.

With the death of Moore goes a global leader of a generation who believed to his being in global connections and movements that could unite the entire world for good. Sure, that ideal has a high modernist impulse straight out of the post 1930s socialist international: that we are defined best by cooperating than by our nation-states.

We are on the other side of those giddy heights. Big regional blocs are about the best we can do.

Mike Moore gave it everything and left New Zealand and the world a far better place for it.

104 comments on “Mike Moore ”

  1. millsy 1

    Mike Moore helped bring in WTO rules that forbid us from imposing an export levy on bottles water exports (or even setting up a state owned water company to do it), which means that overseas companies can just waltz in and take our water and give us a pittance in return. I'm not too sure how that benefits the 'working class' that Moore pretends he cares about.

    • Climaction 1.1

      “Mike Moore didn’t care about something that was within the current governments control to fix, therefore he is my enemy”


  2. pat 2

    an alternative view…

    "Moore may have preached principled pragmatism, but the pragmatism he practiced was utterly ruthless. For pretty much the whole of his political life he was willing to apply the hardness and cynicism acquired in the course of an unsentimental working-class upbringing in the dirt-poor North, to the grim task of dismantling many of the New Zealand working-class’s most important achievements.

    He did it for their own good – of course – because the world was changing and what had worked in the 1930s and 40s could no longer be made to work in the 1970s and 80s. Did he understand how important this uncompromising working-class persona was to the success of Roger Douglas’s revolution? How useful it was to have someone who could defend radical free-market capitalism in the absolutely authentic accents of a working-class Kiwi bloke? I suspect he did – especially when so many of the opponents of Rogernomics were university-educated “socialists” from the professional middle-class – with the vocabulary and diction to prove it!"


  3. RedLogix 3

    Thank Ad. I must confess I never paid enough attention to Mike Moore, and now I regret that. I appreciate this OP a lot and I certainly learned from it.

    In it he laid out the benefits of trade untrammeled by global subsidy – higher incomes, lower poverty, better environment, improved governance, and more.

    On reading it through, the thought passed my mind that perhaps the greatest gamble of the WTO order was the bringing in of China into the system. While the outcomes promised are being delivered, the price was a CCP that was prepared to game the system with policies of rampant intellectual property theft and hypersubsidisation. The inability or unwillingness of the global community to confront this has inevitably undermined the credibility of globalisation, and triggered the resurgence of nationalism the world is now seeing.

    There were of course many other factors involved, but this one is among the dominant. As a walk along any aisle of any hardware shop looking for something not made in China will attest.

    Once again, thanks for this OP. It's managed to both cheer me up and depress me at the same time. It's changed my mind about Mike Moore, before I had him vaguely lumped in with a clutter of the usual media misrepresentations, now I have a much clearer and positive view.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    So many of that generation are dead now. Rowling, Lange, Moore, DeCleene and the old men of the FOL. Of the rest, Roger Douglas and Michael Bassett have descended into the madness of fanaticism that comes to many in their decrepitude. Some, like Palmer, spend their time howling at the moon, like musty, doddering Oxford dons politely avoided at all costs by anyone living in the present and real.

    Moore was clearly a memorable character who thought he had NZ's interests at heart. He was a man of his times, with all the entrenched anti-intellectualism that infected the frontier mentality of New Zealanders of his generation. I'll never forgive him and his generation for destroying forever my belief in the idea that politics can be intellectually stimulating, for smashing the Labour party and the trashing of democracy and the hope of transformative government for the betterment of all. he sacrificed socialism on a small minded altar that held working people should commit class suicide out of hatred towards people who think about what a better society might look like. I can't imagine a bigger betrayal of the transformative vision of Michael Joseph Savage.

    I grew up in a really lefty, working class household. People who owed their ascent from poverty to the middle class to the hand up from the reforms of first Labour government. A house stuffed full of all sorts of books, because while my parents left school at 14 they valued education and ideas and thought no one should be forced into the workforce when they were still curious about the world around them. The reward Labour got from them was an unquestioning tribal loyalty from people who trusted them. Those Tory bastards – whose every social and economic humiliation inflicted on the impoverished was remembered when Labour voting jack did, indeed, become good as his National voting master – were the enemy. I recall phoning my mum to tell her big Norm had died, and the shock at the defeats of 1975 and 1978. I joined Labour as soon as I could. I canvassed day and night for Fran Wilde and Peter Dunne in 1984, a callow youth inadequately clothed against a Wellington July but determined to give that bastard Muldoon and his mates like Ron Don the electoral kicking they deserved.

    What I got in return was the greatest act of political betrayal in our history. I'll never forgive Moore and the rest of them what they did to working class New Zealand, not just economically but in the extinguishing the idea – the hope – NZ really was the egalitarian laboratory for the world.

    A huge part of Moore's legacy is a modern Labour party that is an intellectually exhausted husk, a collection of self interested cadres that serves mainly as a vehicle for the politically ambitious neoliberal middle class that and exists on the fumes of memories and hollow rhetoric, a party that owes its continual existence to an inertia of defeatism on the left that has made it to hard to get rid of.

    His service and loyalty needs to be acknowledged and honoured. But I don't beleve that in death we should whitewash his legacy or that he should escape being judged by socialists and found wanting for his role in the Rogernomics revolution.

    • Absolutely agree, Sanctuary. Mike Moore was part of the 'fish'n'chips' brigade – Prebble, Douglas, Caygill, etc., who sold out the NZ worker. I tore up my Labour Party card in 1987 (or thereabouts) and although I have always voted Labour and I have worked in a small way for Duncan Webb in ChCh Central, I've never rejoined the party.

    • Congrats @Sanctuary. Some things need to be said at times. And thanks also for having the decency in acknowledging his service and loyalty.

      "But I don't belIeve that in death we should whitewash his legacy or that he should escape being judged by socialists and found wanting for his role in the Rogernomics revolution."

      It's not just socialists that will judge.

      That's the unfortunate part of the neo-liberal religion. Some are actually true believers.

      I'm glad people like Toby Hill didn't have to witness the half of it – but that's another story that might be told after we get past the post-truth era (probably half a decade in the future).

      Just remember though that there are a shitload of people that have grown up knowing – and therefore experiencing nothing else (PM included, along with a few others). As such, whatever their political affiliation, it becomes their raison d'etre and their life blood.

      I 'spose my tribute to MM would be along the lines that "He was a battler, and passionate about what he did (going forward)". Shame the lamb burger didn't take hold because sure as shit, there are way too many Holy Cows, and even the most non-devout Hindu or Sikh will know how they're regularly abused in the pursuit of an economy MM worshipped (at the altar of an brain fart ideology that became a faith).

      But you know dear boy……Too soon……….too soon. Admonished and discharged – Stand down

    • Ad 4.3

      It is damnable bad luck that you went canvassing for Dunne and Wilde – two parasitical Wellington Labour insider centrists if there ever were. Your "betrayal" from the structural adjustments of that government were felt by many and was needlessly painful, I'd agree.

      But laying the charge of anti-intellectualism at the feet of Mike Moore doesn't stack up. The last time we had a crossover of left activism and academia and Labour was in the two decades before World War Two, and it dropped off fast once Fraser lost (There's a couple of useful books on it if you're interested).

      Moore often reacted to the tiresome pettifoggery of Labour's minor English Department cliques who were forever splitting into different kinds of Marxism. There were even shades of it in the mid-1980s. They were stale and useless and quite devoid of proletarian impact.

      You sure weren't going to get intellectual encouragement out of Nordmeyer, Kirk, or Rowling. Come on be honest.

      It's precisely the intellectual laziness of the left in the decades from Fraser through to Muldoon that enabled the hard monetarists to emerge nearly unchallenged through Labour in the early 1980s. Just imagine if they'd done the thinking to resist the ideologues within Treasury and from Roger Douglas when they finally got to power in 1984.

      There Was No Alternative because the Labour left and the unions didn't do the thinking to form one.

      All the while through this, there was accusations of Splitter! and Trotskyist! and Maoist! through our University student faculties – as if any of that mattered after Vietnam.

      Even the mass liberative movements of the 1980s failed to produce challenging tomes or fresh thinking to revive your bookshelves, although a few of their policy ideas started to seep into the outer edges of policy remits. We were told we were Passionless People (Gordon McLaughlin), and what he meant was people who don't engage with fresh thinking.

      And sure Moore was no academic heavyweight, but no other Prime Minister other than Palmer has bothered to write anything more substantial than self-serving biographies. That's true of the left and right together. What Moore wrote was well received and reviewed internationally – particularly in the field of international trade. You can't find that from any previous leader back in time until you hit Fraser.

      • RedLogix 4.3.1

        It's precisely the intellectual laziness of the left in the decades from Fraser through to Muldoon that enabled the hard monetarists to emerge nearly unchallenged through Labour in the early 1980s.

        That reads like a thunderbolt of truth. This and the utter demolition of marxism's legitimacy by the Stalinist and Maoist regimes drove many of the left's more energetic thinkers either into tiny marginalised niches, or into the arms of post-modernism. By the late-70's the radical left had been largely humiliated into silence and the centre left vainly imagined it could expand it's ponderous state-centric welfare model unchallenged into the future.

        When the hard monetarist came along and told us 'there is no alternative', it was in a sense true. No-one had prepared any argument or ground to challenge them.

        • McFlock


          My impression is that stagflation and the oil shocks gave Chicago School an opening against Keynesianism and Socialism. An untested system has no track record of failure.

          And when economic knowledge has atrophied within the left, pseudoscientific gobbledygook runs rings around supporters of principles that have apparently failed.

        • adam

          Ah but the tiny marginalised niches produced some wonderful work.

          Murray Bookchin

          Dorothy Day

          Michael Albert

          Noam Chomsky

          and one of my personal fav's

          Jacques Ellul

    • the other pat 4.4

      well felt and said sir….i felt the same back in those heady days.

    • sumsuch 4.5

      Well put. Penultimate paragraph emphasised by Jacinda today at his funeral calling him ' a working class hero' . The MSM and present Labour Party's response to him is devastating in its vapidity, nonunderstanding and picture of where we are now.

      I agree about the immense good of the worldwide freemarket for the poor but it was done by cutting across our thing, destroying us. As per all the anglo countries. Hence Trumpism as the only way forward for capitalism in America. Bad faith from a to z.

  5. mosa 5

    ” There will be fine words given, kind stories and attempts by Journalists who weren’t even born when he was PM trying to sum up his legacy ”

    Yeah that started at 10 am Sunday morning when the corporate media began their political eulogies.

    The last ” working class PM ” they reported and even that lizard Bridges described him as something he will never be a man who cared for struggling kiwi battlers.

    It was not true and i find it a total reprehensible when the neo liberals claim one of their own as a ” working class hero of the people , the spin they like too use too remind people that you can be both.

    You cant !!!

    It is like oil and water they simply don’t mix.

    Moore was elected in the Kirk landslide of 1972 ( for the record the last real working class PM ) but he sold out too the intoxicating policies of Douglas and the neo liberal revolution sweeping the globe where the promise of huge wealth at the expense of everything else was the main objective.

    He bought into the bullshit being peddled that there was no alternative , a famous quote at the time to describe the harsh medicine we were told could would lead too the nirvana of the South Pacific.

    He was he proclaimed not a chardonnay socialist during the bitter fight for the leadership in 1993.

    But then neither was Clark any more a socialist.

    It was a remarkable transformation from 1972 when he stood as a Labour candidate at a time when the Labour party still believed in policies that actually helped and supported people and their institutions and the welfare state and there was not a shred of doubt about that , no mythical bullshit ” third way ”

    He never backed away from the fact that he had supported the ” right'” approach and the attempted take over of the NZLP against Anderton who he loathed and ridiculed as the ” looney left ” and even long after 1984 and with the carnage all but complete against his ” good and tough kiwi battler ” and the theft of all their tax payer funded companies sold too the highest and lowest bidders he maintained the charade of being for the struggling kiwi family , most of them being forced into financial slavery by his government and then the vile actions of the Nasty Natz for nine years.

    Somehow representing the country as ambassador to America was a perfect fit for him and his love of their capitalist system forgetting rather conveniently how the Americans had treated New Zealand after the ANZUS rift and schmoozing with Key after being appointed Mike was where he was at his most comfortable and a hundred years away from the government he swore too up hold and its policies in 1972.

    Working class hero ?

    There is no such thing , just a figment of the corporate media’s imagination.
    And those who like too re write history to suit the narrative.


  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    Personally I like this take..

    Mike Moore 1949-2020: Working class battler to neoliberal architect

    "He was a tragic political figure, caught between his working class union background and his refusal to believe the political ideology he had unleashed upon NZ alongside Roger Douglas had permanently damaged those communities he called home."


  7. Anne 7

    Yes I know there were things Mike Moore did that were more to do with political ambition than anything else but despite everything, he never stopped being a Labour man and I am saddened by his passing.

    I knew him as a young political up and comer and you couldn't help but be affected by his almost 'over the top' enthusiasm. One amusing anecdote about Mike Moore that is not generally known:

    He lost his Mt Eden seat in the Muldoon massacre of 1975 after only one term. The next morning saw him banging on the door of his MP neighbour, Warren Freer. He told Warren:

    You've been in parliament a long time and it's my turn now. It's time you stepped aside and let me have Mt. Albert..

    Warren Freer wasn't very keen about this young whipper snapper telling him what to do so he stayed on as an MP for another two terms.

    I think that rather poorly executed reaction to his early loss taught Mike a lesson he never repeated.

    • Blazer 7.1

      I think MM was unemployable outside political life,and realised it.

      His ego showed when he was defeated as Labour P.M number?

      Mosa sums him up rather ..well.

      • Anne 7.1.1

        He never backed away from the fact that he had supported the "right" approach and the attempted take over of the NZLP against Anderton who he loathed and ridiculed as the ”looney left ” and even long after 1984 and with the carnage all but complete against his ”good and tough kiwi battler” and the theft of all their tax payer funded companies sold to the highest and lowest bidders he maintained the charade of being for the struggling kiwi family, most of them being forced into financial slavery by his government and then the vile actions of the Nasty Natz for nine years.

        Mosa is pretty spot on there re-Mike. In a strange kind of a way I think he was caught between a rock and a hard place during those years. He chose to go with the Rogernomes.

        I was a Labour activist during those years and I chose to opt out altogether – saved having to make a choice. 🙄

        Still, he never joined ACT even though they tried very hard to lure him over to them. He stayed with Labour which makes me wonder whether he may have ultimately rued that original choice he made to go with the Douglas contingent.

        Btw, the "looney left" was the trendy catch phrase for all those who didn't blindly follow the Rogernomes in the 1980s and 90s.

    • Chris 7.2

      That's the trouble with Labour. They keep being Labour people.

    • sumsuch 7.3

      Amusing? Freer thought he was cracked and didn't change his mind. And I find no good evidence to suggest he was wrong.

      Freer thought the 84 govt's personnel were all unbalanced. Not infused in the foundation of socialism, or the people being a separate entity to the interests of the powerful. And anyone who thinks knows that's right now after Roger's 'latest enthusiasm' of 36 years standing.

      Why does the bullshit of the powerful last decades and centuries and demo-cracies disappear with the rain? Rhetorical.

  8. God what a vicious sour lot the lefties are! Like me (Andrew Little told me so) Moore was apparently "a traitor to his class" because he recognised that the old left wing solutions from the 30's weren't working any more. Ironically, I was a Labour activist at the time of the 1984 election, and felt the same sense of betrayal articulated by a couple of commenters above about what felt like a complete con job by those we had helped to elect. I remember being particularly pissed off when Prebble's "Save Rail" policy turned out to involve gutting it. Rail, together with the MOW, was of course a giant welfare scheme: it "employed" 60,000 odd IIRC, but only needed 10% of that number to run it. Whether such giant work scheme(s) – paid for by marginal tax rates of 65% – was socially justified is certainly a worthwhile debate. I have mixed views still on that.

    But over the years my views changed, as I slowly but surely drifted to the right. However I was – and remain – still very much aware of my working class roots, and still saw myself as an oilfield roughneck with a law degree rather than a lawyer who had once been a roughneck.

    When I was asked to stand for ACT I attended a meeting with several party luminaries including Roger Douglas. During that meeting I said that I needed to be convinced that ACT was NOT just a "party for the rich pricks". Roger became more animated than I have ever seen him – and we later became and remain good friends. He said "I came to parliament in 1969 representing the poor people. I have always represented the poor people. It is my people who die on waiting lists when the hospitals don't work. It is my constituents who come out of school with no qualifications if the teachers are no good" etc etc. I was quite taken aback by his passion. But I had no doubt that he was entirely genuine.

    The next most animated I saw him was during a debate on youth pay rates – anathema to Labour of course – during my time in parliament. In his speech for ACT Roger said something like "Those people on the Labour benches would rather unskilled young people sat at home watching TV (Roger doesn't quite "get" the interweb) getting 'paid' $2 an hour on the dole rather than earning $10 or $12 an hour learning some life skills and job skills; something to put on a CV. After a couple or three years of that, that young person will be permanently unemployable". No doubt some commenter here will try and argue with that logic.

    And after Moore's death we see the massive irony in the PM making lukewarm positive comments on his achievements – after miraculously converting the supposedly evil TPP into the <i>Comprehensive and progressive</i> TPP. The addition of those three words – when virtually nothing in the document had changed – apparently turned lead into gold. Mike must have laughed like a drain.

    RIP Mike Moore – the last working class PM Labour will ever have.

    • The Al1en 9.1

      When you were asked to stand for act, did you declare you had stolen a dead baby's identity, and that you were a total swivel eyed loon?

      [I was afraid someone would attack the messenger rather than address his considered comment and personal view on Mike Moore and NZ politics. Banned for a week – Incognito]

  9. Sanctuary 10

    "…as I slowly but surely drifted to the right…"

    A model of understatement from a man last spotted fitting himself out in a 1930's German tram conductors uniform.

    • Incognito 10.1

      Don’t have a go at the commenter but address his comment or keep quiet. No more warnings!

      • Sanctuary 10.1.1

        I don't consider anything he says as worth addressing.

        • come get some


          [Please stick to your original user handle, thanks]

        • David Garrett

          …What not even my being "a traitor to my class" for going off and getting an education? Surely you'd agree with Little's assessment? No doubt you see Mike as also being a "class traitor" by heading up the WTO – with great success most would say – or accepting an ambassadorship

          [Commenting here is a privilege and not a right. You should not be surprised there has been negative responses to you. How about you respect the depth of feeling and not engage in flame wars – MS]

          • sumsuch

            Love one of the few complimenters of Moore being David Garrett. That The Standard found someone to illuminate him in their obituary rather than piss him further down the drain says a lot about your blog. Roge is still alright, alright, alright around here. ACT, like for Labour, is your leader.

            • RedLogix

              I've been participating here from the first week or so this blog started in 2007. In all that time I've never noticed any of the regulars who has any support whatsoever for Douglas. You are plain wrong on that assertion.

              As for Moore, well yes he will always be closely associated with those events, but unlike Douglas and Prebble, Mike managed to transcend them afterward. He was more than just Rogernomics.

              Like most people fulminating over the 80's, you never express an alternative vision. It was not like there was a magical force-field bubble around NZ that was going to keep the big wider world away from us, free to bumble along untouched in our backwater hobbit ways. Change was going to happen and the left failed to lay the groundwork so that it went the way we wanted.

              • Incognito

                Thank you for stating my thoughts on this, which I was going to put into a comment but you beat me to it.

                It is obvious and typical that many seem to think that everything in the past happened in some weird isolation bubble. Like Douglas single-handedly created or brought neo-liberalism and free market dogma to good old New Zealand. Like the PM, our PM, single-handedly converted TTP(A) to CPTPP. Like this Government is to blame for the coronavirus arriving here. I know that Kiwis suffer from isolated-island mentality, have a wee chip on their shoulders, and just love binary and reductionist thinking with a passion but surely they know better, yes?

              • sumsuch

                'There is no alternative'

                Roge rattling on about the dangers of interventionism.

                There was another course. OZ did it gentler for instance. Read Brian Easton.

                Roge was the sort of simpleton who clears away everything, because he's simple.

                But, yes, the political Left was hollow. The generation brought up in the new wealth-distribution had forgotten what it was about and were all about ridiculous Vietnam and nuclear free. But almost instantly I understood they were in the wrong and so did many better people than me, therefore, heroes. Not inclined to forgive. Labour hasn't flung off ACT.

            • Incognito

              The Author of this Post has written hundreds of Posts here over many years and has participated on this site for donkey’s years. Authors write in their own capacity about the things that interest them. You may want to read the About page: https://thestandard.org.nz/about/#post_regular and https://thestandard.org.nz/about/#you_must. I hope this helps because you demonstrate ignorance and unbased negative criticism.

              • sumsuch

                The PM just called Mike Moore ' a working class hero'.

                I admit the immense enrichment of the world poor by the freemarket.

                Binary, no; ignorant, no.

                I endorse Sanctuary's penultimate para in his big post about Labour above, apart from the respect for Mike Moore. Read that Incognito. You support 'Labour' despite everything. I support my unbalanced furious great grandfather who found his certainty in fighting for, what he called, social-democracy. The people. He was 70 when his work amounted to anything, MJS was 65.

                I'm as negative as Sanders is judged by the Democratic and Republican oligarchy. Progressives there get a fairer hearing on Fox. And to a lesser degree our 84 elite is the same. See the unopposed obituaries of Mike Moore in the mainstream for instance. Let alone here, with your implicit 'cap'-doffing, at the least.

                Of course you're not explicitly for Roge and Act but like Labour you're implicitly for his ideas, such as they are (looking forward to your obituary of him). Again see Sanctuary's penultimate para.

                One of the things I like about here is the large participation and the good computery (yep, that's my best guess at the right word). Hence the archive of my negativity.

  10. What is this crap? The WTO is an imperialist arm of US foreign policy, just like the IMF.
    Mike Moore's careerist free trade fanaticism was delusional in the extreme, and certainly did nothing for unionism or the working class.
    Who wrote this fucking horse whit?

    • RedLogix 11.1

      free trade fanaticism was delusional in the extreme

      Says the person typing on the imported computer, full of high tech components from dozens of locations worldwide, and connected to an internet that spans the globe.

      You're free to mourn the upheavals of the 80's; I know I did for a long time. Yet ultimately whining takes us nowhere but into darkness and irrelevancy. Construct an alternative vision if you want to be taken seriously.

      • Quinnjin 11.1.1

        HAHAHA yeah "Okay Boomer" ( lets hazard a guess.
        You're an idiot and your whiny apologism is offensive. I'm in 40's , so pull your f'n head in, I remember the 80's. I am also well aware of the cherry picked stats and the reality that free trade really means free exploitation. All of the technology in this f'n computer was developed and paid for by government research and tax payer dollars.
        You are perpetuating the same idiotic lies of apologists for rampant free market exploitative capitalism every where, what happened under Douglas was nothing but the whole sale rape and pillage of this country so that a bunch of boomer scum and at least one paedophile apparently, could get rich quick, ala Richwhite, Bob Jones, Ron Brierly et al, and other mates of Douglas and round table associates.
        The experiment was an utter failure and we are still paying for it.
        So you can shove that pathetic jibe; "computer your typing on" where the sun don't shine you nausiating boot licker.
        Your feeble, spineless kow towing to the libertarian free market nut job mantra sound byte is typical of sell out boomers every where.
        Well you scum bags robbed my generation and every generation after me, and we'll be paying for your selfish, short sighted greed for decades to come, if not with the end of organised civilisation itself.
        Yes, the economy needed opening up after Muldoons crony capitalist, farmer bribing, vote buying, import licence racket, bankrupt the country BS.
        But Douglas was a madman, and the WTO along with IMF are regressive organisations which are merely arms of the global corporate hegemony, and US foreign policy.
        The fact that a muppet like the above author could eulogise a sell out like Moore with such Rose tinted epithets in what is supposed to be a socialist leaning organ is beyond a joke and is in fact offensive.
        So don't patronise me mate, you’re out of your bloody depth son.
        Also the idea that it is up to me to single handedly " create an alternative vision " to be taken seriously?
        Oh right another " there is no alternative" fallacy. Who the fuck are you ? A walking free trade propaganda bot?
        Here is some reality for you mate, there is no free trade, only deals between countries, that's the reality, there is not a country on this earth that does not subsidise some industries and charge duties on some imports.
        For a start, we should never have signed any trade deal with any country that doesn't have reciprocal labour laws.
        Her'es an alternative … we don't ram through a bunch of changes that fuck the unions and sell of all our infrastructure to be asset stripped by predator scum.
        We invest using government credit in value added business.
        We educate our young. [email protected] get out of mass export of raw commodities.
        We farm green organic and charge a fn premium.
        Getting the picture yet? There are plenty of alternatives and they are fairly straight forward and obvious. People have been pointing them out for decades.
        No it is you have to defend the failed status quo: the exploitation of slave labour in foreign countries for you to have the luxury of ignorantly patronising your intellectual betters in an online forum, even though things wouldn't have to be so cheap of all the money didn't go to the global plutocrat parasites and wagses were decent and profits more equitably distributed with those who actually create them, you f'n idiot, unlike the current global corporate plutocratic model that is destroying the planet.
        It is you and your ilk, and the pathetic, whining, revisionist apologism you stand for, that cannot be taken seriously.
        Who the fuck do you think you're kidding. You'v been told. Don't you dare waste my time with any more of your idiotic piffle.

        • Ad

          Please stop commenting on this post.

          You are a simple bully.

        • sumsuch

          Agree with you.

          Bullying is not a term you can apply to arguments about ideas, let alone in the medium of written words.

          We lacked the venom necessary for the last decades. And it sure was present prior to 1935.

        • Obtrectator

          Continued on page 94, Mr Spart?

        • tony kirk

          well said sir !

          your comment has cured my sick belly nausea caused by the creepy crawling platitude from so called lefties.

          The trade union was full of of opportunist creeps like Moore…we even had a song for them (sung to the tune of The Red Flag )

          "The working class can kiss my arse

          I've got the bosses job at last "

          just listened to Adam McGrath singing about John A Lee

          a true hero of the working class

        • sumsuch

          Immense compliment for a good NZer. Unlike the 45 % solid for the 10 % produced by Stephen Mills’s Labour Party.

      • Adrian Thornton 11.1.2


        AAhhh the old using all the benefits of the capitalist commodities troupe..I though you were better then that..

        Obviously that neo liberal cool aid tasted real good to you…however, I know for a fact it still tastes bitter for workers here in the Hawkes Bay, bitter enough to make you sick.

        • RedLogix

          Capitalism is a tool, it is a system that serves it's particular purpose very well. But it doesn't do fairness. Never did, never will. It's like asking a table saw to weld steel. Yet when faced with the task of welding many pieces of steel together, only a fool first demands that all the saws be thrown out.

          The bitter truth for marxists is that capitalism has been the engine of an economic growth which has pulled the majority of humanity out of poverty. It didn't set out to do social justice, it didn't plan fairness into the outcome … it just delivered the material elements of human welfare and prosperity to a degree we've never before achieved in all of our history. And we all use them daily, even when we vainly profess to hate the system that delivered them.

          If you want to tell us about capitalist exploitation, feel free. And then I demand you listen to the truly brute exploitation that absolute poverty imposed on most of the human race before industrialisation. Simply compare your modern life with that of your ancestors 200 years ago … and you have your answer.

          The left has of course the vital role of proposing improvements, negotiating to reduce the extremes of wealth and poverty, arguing for extending human dignity, and protecting the commons. But merely ranting as some have done here at the faults of the past amounts to little more than resentment and bitterness masquerading as transparent leftie virtue signalling.

          • Paddington

            Your comment is a thing of beauty. Just one suggestion:

            "The left has of course the vital role…"

            I don't believe that is only a feature of the left. I'm certainly not on the 'left', but I view capitalism (or it's derivatives) as the most successful way of delivering the best overall outcome for the most people.

  11. adam 12

    This post is great. It shows the difference between the liberal left and their continued support of Liberalism as an ideology. And the economic left, who think that ideological is well – stupid.

    Mick was an interesting guy to serve liquor to. At times he was buoyant and full of sage advice – at others he was deeply morase. He didn't like to sit at the bar like other politicians, but would ask myself and other staff to sit down with him. He was one of the few politicians to tip (in the form of buying you a beer or wine as well his drink)

    I liked him, but didn't like his liberalism. I did like he never got rattled by my sly anarchist jibes. He was very interested that I had read Kropotkin and was reading 'The Ecology of Freedom" – which funny enough is the only time I remember him standing at the bar to ask me what I thought about the book.

    I agree with you Ad, he wanted to help working people as best he could. Of that people should not dispute. I just had a problem with how he did that, and the unintended consequences of the ideology which has spawned more, and more demagogues with each economic crisis that ideology produces.

  12. AB 13

    This OP strikes me as a highly sophisticated version of the 'Polish shipyard' myth about NZ prior to 1984. Even despite that, it would all make sense if the international rules that were imposed had the actual outcomes claimed.. What we have actually seen is the marked bifurcation of our society into winners and losers. The OP is history from the perspective of the winning side of that ledger.

    I'd also acknowledge Moore's positive qualities. I think his intentions were good, even if he hitched them to an ideological horse that could never fulfill them.

    • AB: I have no idea how old you are, but I wonder if you were old enough in 1984 to understand what was going on? Please accept that I am not intending to be rude, but as someone who was in his mid twenties in 1984, I think the "Polish shipyard" comparison was a fair one.

      Some examples: Imports were tightly controlled by the issuing of import licences – which were effectively licences to print money – issued to Muldoon's cronies. We were regulated up the wazzoo in absolutely everything. Strikes which literally cut the country in half really were as predictable as the sun rising every school and Christmas holidays. Looking back, the excuses to go on strike were quite amusing (I remember one ferry strike because the mince the seamen were served – by their brothers in the Cooks and Stewards union – was too cold). Believe me, they weren't funny at the time, especially for families who had booked and paid for holidays in the other Island.

      Despite all the regs, there was a waiting list of, IIRC, about six weeks to get a new phone line (no mobiles then of course) so you could start your highly regulated new business. Of course that could be "fixed" by a small payment to the right people…a mate of mine worked for the old P&T division of the Post Office, and a significant part of his income came from cash bribes. Yep, low level corruption in little ol' NZ. Of course Don's bribes were small potatoes to what importers were probably paying the Nats to get their import licences.

      The railways were so chaotic that large pieces of machinery regularly went missing (You had to ship everything by rail if it was over certain distance, 50 miles IIRC). There was one documented case of a combine harvester going missing. The farmer who had bought and paid for it got no joy from NZR so he followed the route it had to have taken himself, and found said machine sitting on a wagon down a siding. It was never established why it was put there.

      In one of his books Prebble talks about coming across a signals gang on a mothballed branch line. Apparently no-one had realised they were still "working" so said signals gang came to work every day on a disused line. I can't remember now how long this had gone on; some months IIRC.

      All sounds very much like a Polish shipyard to me.

      • RedLogix 13.1.1

        But the Polish shipyard did have one important virtue, it was the 'employer of last resort', it created a social safety net that a benefit cannot. All those big state owned enterprises like NZR, MoW, Post Office etc that neo-liberalism ran it's fiscal tape measure over and found wanting, provided a social dimension that you thought was irrelevant. And that neglect hurt a lot of people badly.

        And in my career I've lost count of the skilled technical people I've met who started their working lives in one of these organisations. They provided a unique mix of training, mentoring and hands on experience that has not been replicated by anything that came to replace them.

        I'll acknowledge that NZ could not continue to insulate itself from a rapidly changing world forever, but the puritan neoliberal ideology imposed on us very high price still resented by that generation who paid it.

        There is little point in whining about it now, the Polish shipyard that NZ may have been was probably unsustainable in that form, it had to change. And the neo-liberal extremism that was allegedly the cure, went too far, it was arguably worse than the disease. Time to bury the hatchet, let go the old resentments and put our energy into devising a future that actually works for everyone.

        • Ad

          The hard thing to judge is whether New Zealand would have been as successful as Australia from the mid-1980s if it had followed the more measured liberalisation of Hawke, rather than the Douglas-Richardson version.

          Personally I don't think so. Most of the luck we've had is the kind that comes working in very tight teams under hard conditions until you succeed.

          But I do think the Douglas-Richardson budgets forced really massive and unnecessary inequality, poverty and intergenerational asset loss.

          IMHO Moore was a very specific and generally pretty useful part of the Lange government, in the fields I describe above.

          • RedLogix

            The hard thing to judge is whether New Zealand would have been as successful as Australia from the mid-1980s if it had followed the more measured liberalisation of Hawke, rather than the Douglas-Richardson version.

            Yes I was thinking the same myself just now. Counterfactual history is always a guessing game, but I think the odds are better than evens. The thing about Australian politics is that with it's complex system, with a least four layers from shire to senate, it's much harder to grab it all at once and shove it in any radical direction and Douglas managed.

            While many Australians I've met are quite grumpy about how clumsy and inefficient their system can be, I take some delight as a kiwi in pointing out to them it's less obvious virtues. They don't expect it …. devil

        • David Garrett

          Red: That's a very measured and thoughtful comment. Roger and I have often talked about the 80's revolution. His position – unchanged today – was that radical change had to happen, and the route which would cause the least pain was to do it FAST. I have never been entirely convinced by that argument; as just one example, closing post offices in remote areas caused a tremendous amount of social dislocation at the time. Some of those small communities have never quite recovered. But then many have – the former Post Office is now quite likely to be a cafe serving coffee as good as Auckland…and a few dollars cheaper.

          But as you acknowledge, change was inevitable. Free movement to Australia meant that the highly talented and even more highly taxed were free to fuck off – and many did, never to return.

          And more than 30 years on, it's easy to forget – more especially for the young who weren't even yet born – just what a dire state NZ was in back then. We had gone from having the second or third highest living standard in the world to coming close to defaulting on loan payments. Perhaps Roger's radical surgery WAS the only alternative. But whether it was or wasn't is still a perfectly fair topic of discussion.

          • RedLogix

            Good; that makes sense. What I'm interested in is 'how do we learn from our imperfect past and progress from here?' There won't be a magical silver bullet answer, if the 20th century has anything to teach us at all, it is to be deeply skeptical of anyone claiming simple answers to complex problems.

            And I can accept that from a pragmatic perspective, that in 1984 there probably was no other competing argument to the radical monetarist surgery. But almost 50 years later there most certainly is now.

            Because there is no question that NZ is still struggling with a dark social legacy of that era, that I don't see in Australia. More than anything else lefties like me would like to hear a sincere acknowledgement of this; and maybe we can move forward from here over time.

            • In Vino

              Good thread. I was about 40 at the time, and always doubted the veracity of what Roger Douglas etc were pushing. As a Teacher, I saw the Picot Report as an attempt to placate teachers ("Good people – Bad System") but bring in huge cost-cutting in the name of change. With hindsight, I think I was right.

              The winners write history, and for that reason I still doubt Garrett's claim about NZ coming close to defaulting on loan payments. Bollocks. The run on the currency was because Douglas had won, and all the Finance people (like John Key) knew he was going to float the currency, ie, devalue hugely. If Muldoon had won the election, I suspect there would have been no such crisis at all. ACT party people usually react furiously to that suggestion…

              And roblogic below – please note that at least one Boomer did NOT champion neoliberalism.

              Like Redlogix, I wonder how and when we get to move forward.

              • roblogic

                Thanks In Vino, appreciate that. I know a lot of Boomers were horrified at Lab4's betrayal of the workers who supported them, my family included. An equal or greater number benefited hugely simply by sitting on a quarter acre and ignoring the cries of the poor.

                • sumsuch

                  Well, I've been cut in 2 by that comment.

                  Are we ever gonna get a positive comment about Moore apart from the Standard official obiturist and former NZ First folk.

                  Have no idea how Standard thinks, understands, after this. Stephan Mills is alright by you?That dichotomy is impressive. But then again that is Labour. And they keep getting voted in. Except the ideas don't shape up despite you doing your best. Keep up the split personality. Like the Whigs did to the end.

                  • roblogic

                    Moore could well have been a good person, but even so he was seriously misguided and unfortunate to be a part of an experiment that ruined the lives of thousands of people.

                    People are complicated & flawed, even NZ Prime Ministers

                    • sumsuch

                      I, being there , am not inclined to give him a pass. That generation had forgotten the basis of our society. So being human , fine. But both the older and younger generation sprung up immediately to fight for society before anything.

                      And all is left is blind Stephen Mills. So, an open frame for fascism capturing the just above against the just below.

                  • Incognito

                    The Standard does not think! It exists on a server and somewhere in hyperspace AKA the internet. If you keep making these stupid attributions to suit your negative narrative then I will let you know what I think and give you the official TS treatment.

                    • sumsuch

                      The Standard does not think but has a downer on my 'negativity'? Look yourselves in the mirror and admit what you are.

                      Fellow commenters what do you think The Standard thinks?

                      About as Left as 'Mike Moore was a working class hero'. The 84ist Party comes before the people's interest for you is my own opinion. hence your ridiculous obiturist here.

                      And why don't you let it play out, Incognito, free speech sorts out everything. Your excessive guardianship only says you can't bear truth. Do you want to be like CNN, MSNBC and National Radio's 4 pm discussion programme? Where all that is tolerable to the present status quo is allowed unmitigatedly. And nothing else.

                      Mainly, I'm angry at the state we've reached where the News says someone was known as a man of 'intellect' with a 'big heart' and the fucken Labour Party leader describes him as a'working class hero'. These absurd Alice in Wonderland falsehoods prove 't'Cause' of my Lancashire great grandfather is in a very dire state. But of course, events …

                      And Garrett was from ACT.

                    • Incognito []

                      This isn’t about free speech or Mike Moore. This is about you making up shit about Authors, this site, and the motivations of Authors (and of me!) for what they write (about) here. You also seem to attribute motivations and thinking to the site and I have already explained that this is utter nonsense because the site does not have a mind.

                      Therefore, if you cannot separate your free speech crusade from attacking the site and its Authors, I will be more than happy to give you the official TS treatment. It seems to me that you don’t really deserve your privilege to comment on this free platform so it won’t be a loss to the site.

            • Nic the NZer

              "And I can accept that from a pragmatic perspective, that in 1984 there probably was no other competing argument to the radical monetarist surgery."

              There was a fairly widely known attack on alternative views in the media and academia.

              • Warren Doney

                That would be really interesting to look at. Apart from media archives, I wonder if there are contemporaries from the Jim Anderton side who could comment.

                [Changed to the user handle you have previously used here]

                • pat

                  From within Labour?….there wernt any with his courage, he was pretty much a lone voice in the party at the time hence New Labour and then the Alliance….curiously Minister Woods and Willie Jackson were later compatriots.

          • Nic the NZer

            "We had gone from having the second or third highest living standard in the world to coming close to defaulting on loan payments."

            Getting basic facts like this wrong undermines the credibility of the conclusions quite severely.

            NZ was going through a currency crisis and was at risk of running out of foreign exchange reserves at the time and having to close the close the exchange window or de-value.

            There is also the obvious question of what had actually happened to living standards by the 1984 election and since. There is no consensus that thinks improved here due to rogernomics.

        • roblogic

          I was doing School C. when Lange took over, and my history teacher, an avowed Labour supporter, was fully on board with Rogernomics. The reforms were probably justified at the time, but that's 40-odd years ago, and neoliberalism as a political and economic philosophy is no longer a lean thoroughbred; it's flogged and worn out & should have been put out to pasture decades ago.

          The elite technocratic class still thinks they can run business as usual as they busily hollow out the working class and destroy even middle class aspirations, as they propagandise the masses and arm the police. Neoliberalism has spawned Trump, Brexit, GiletsJaunes, Bolsonaro. Arrogant and selfish US elites outsourced their strategic industries to China & elsewhere, and facilitated the rise of tyranny everywhere.

          There's a saying in science that old theories are replaced one death at a time, as the orthodoxy of the old guard is only reformed when they relinquish their positions of power. Only with the passing of the short-sighted Boomers who championed it, can neoliberalism be finally repudiated and real democratic progress be made toward solving the problems of today.

      • pat 13.1.2

        I suspect im much the same age as yourself and there are elements of truth (stress, elements) in what you describe…..the criticism is not the necessity for changes, but rather the form the the changes took.

        It is difficult to understand how a wholesale embracing of laissez faire economics was self justified by those within the Labour Party…..as is the apparent ignorance of the inevitable outcomes

      • McFlock 13.1.3

        Yeah, but he doesn't have any anecdotes about youth or farmer suicide rates that coincided with his reforms. But many NZers do.

  13. Tiger Mountain 14

    Some eloquent contributions above–take a bow sanctuary…I am not going to bag “Lamb Burger” Moore the man particularly, but his politics…

    Todays multi generational underclass and working poor/precariously employed, remain substantially “the children of Roger’n’Ruth”. Thousands of those cast aside were never retrained or “repurposed”, initially forgotten, and then blamed for their own fate–heh–macro economic decisions way beyond the scope of the average car plant worker say, and it was “your fault Loser!” as unemployment zoomed, hospitals closed and market rents charged for state houses.

    Roger swung a wrecking ball through the provinces and public sector in particular, created some of the freest in and out flows of capital in the world, sold off public infrastructure allowing the penetration of private capital into areas they should be kept well out of.

    So Mike Moore’s legacy is a dog eat dog New Zealand where everyone knows their Flybuys points tally, but many would not have a clue what they should be paid for working a public holiday or how to participate in public and community affairs.

    • roblogic 14.1

      Exactly. Toby Morris expressed it perfectly in his latest comic at the Spinoff. Polite society finds it all to easy to forget what has happened to the precariat and blames the working poor for their own misfortunes. The reality is, we have such terrible social dislocation because of deliberate, vindictive policies by Beehive beancounters. Much of middle NZ actively hates the poor, whom they perceive as bludgers. They cannot conceive that poverty for the most part is a random circumstance, and the real bludgers are the white collar criminals who got off scot free from selling out NZ


      • In Vino 14.1.1

        The sad state we have arrived at. Had uncomfortable feelings about it all at the time, but change was constantly being promoted as good, and without the hindsight we now have, we didn't know enough to argue back then. Damned pity. Not all us boomers wanted this, and as soon as we saw what was happening, we supported Jim Anderton and voted against it all. Still trying to make ours the winning side.

        Sad to say, we have so many voters who have little idea of all this.

    • Marcus Morris 14.2

      Couldn't have put it better myself Tiger Mountain. There is so much more to say about the legacy of those Lange years and the negative long term effect they had on so many areas of society but the catch phrase of the time that still rings in the ears and was the justification for such excessive changes in economic direction was "the trickle down effect". How cynical that turned out to be. "Avalanche up" was the real outcome.

      • Tiger Mountain 14.2.1

        Ah yes, “trickle down”, that term whose usage went from “win win” to pejorative!
        ‘Hyper individualism’ as Naomi Klein has termed it, is the outcome of the 30 year psychological hegemony of neo liberalism around the world.

  14. Philg 15

    So there are major differences about MM. Does our MSM reflect this difference? M was an opportunist, who made the most of it. Did he leave NZ better off?

  15. McFlock 16

    Can't say his death cheers me up like Thatcher's did, but he caused a lot of pain as well as the good interr'd with his bones.

  16. Muttonbird 17

    My only interaction with Mike Moore was as a young and inexperienced hospitality worker at an event he was attending.

    Moore arrived early and we didn't have the bubbles opened in time. He stood reasonably patiently, but I remember the event manager to my right losing it while I struggled with the cage and cork.

    Perhaps this contributed to my lifelong hostility toward authority management.

  17. mike moore was like all labour politicians elected by the poor govern for the rich

  18. sumsuch 19

    Incognito, see Trotter's latest sub-photo Shakespeare quote. He anticipated you by — only — 400 years. Why does Bunnings need to greet you at entry and stamp your receipt at exit but everyone else just lets you go in and out? Or, why do you lot have ferocious dogs guarding a people's power discussion site , unlike every other Left blog?

    Like the best bouncers, you should be like the wallpaper until you're needed.

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