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RNZ: The 9th floor – Palmer

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, April 9th, 2017 - 70 comments
Categories: history, journalism - Tags: , , , ,

On RNZ Guyon Espiner is running what will be a fascinating series, The 9th Floor, consisting of interviews with five ex NZ PMs: Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark. First up (airing on Friday) was Sir Geoffrey Palmer:

The Reformer – Geoffrey Palmer: Prime Minister 1989-90

NZ’s earliest living Prime Minister begins the series reflecting on the revolutionary fourth Labour government and his year as one of its three Prime Ministers.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer was one of New Zealand’s most prolific lawmakers and reformers, but a reluctant politician.

Imagine a country where the Prime Minister set the price of basic goods. Where the Cabinet, without having to even put it to a vote in Parliament, decided the wages you get and the taxes and interest rates you pay.

That was the country Geoffrey Palmer was determined to change when he entered Parliament in 1979. It was an economy, he told The 9th Floor, that no young New Zealander would recognise. … Palmer, a constitutional lawyer, describes Prime Minister Robert Muldoon as running an elected dictatorship between 1975 and 1984. It’s a big claim. …

Ultimately of course Palmer would get his chance to run the country too. He was Prime Minister for 13 months sandwiched between David Lange and Mike Moore, who a desperate Labour party turned to just two months before the 1990 election in a bid to save the furniture.

So what was it like to run the country? What is it like to be Prime Minister? “I found being the leader a nuisance,” Palmer told us. …

Plenty more in the text, but for the full hour-long interview you’ll need to listen…


https://twitter.com/TracyJNeal/status/850793607313342464

70 comments on “RNZ: The 9th floor – Palmer”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    That went a long way to re-confirming my view of Geoffrey Palmer as a very intelligent uber-technocrat completely besotted with his own cleverness.

    The man has the certainty and fanaticism of the technocrat, the arrogance of a self-regarding intellectual and the political nous of a fool. He was, and remains, a very dangerous conviction politician with scant regard for the opinions of the hoi polloi.

    Listening to Palmer, the viciously toxic culture of arrogance of the Roger Douglas era Labour cabinet comes flooding back.

    • Morrissey 1.1

      A pretty good summary of Palmer, Sanctuary. I was appalled by Guyon Espiner’s breathless and admiring tone as he interviewed the Great Man.

      In fact, of course, Palmer was not brave, or principled, or particularly clever. His manipulation by the loathsome ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, was perhaps the lowpoint of his career….

      https://www.democracynow.org/2011/9/2/as_turkey_freezes_israel_ties_critics

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        I think you are mis- understanding the type of interview, I understand its a ‘let them speak’ series on former PMs.
        It not meant to be a challenging of their previous decisions or playing the devils advocate on their current views.

        • WILD KATIPO 1.1.1.1

          Dont bullshit and just answer the fucking question.

          Your making excuses for their treachery.

          Despicable .

          • dukeofurl 1.1.1.1.1

            Your rantings arent worth reading let alone commenting on. Still losing it after all these years

            • WILD KATIPO 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Son,… your a ‘new’ kid on the block. It shows.

              ‘let them speak’

              Yeah… weve had 33 years of ‘ letting them speak’

              They still talk trash.

              Along the same lines as you do.

              • red-blooded

                Hey, how about dialling back on the personal abuse? dukeofurl had a perfectly reasonable point – Espiner’s role wasn’t to interrogate or to push his own viewpoint (whatever that may be), it was to give us some insight into the viewpoint of the subject of the interview. He’ll be interviewing others, too, and playing the same role with them. Besides, has it occurred to you that if you lost interest after 20 minutes (as you say below at 1.2), then maybe you’re not the best person to comment on the interview as a whole?

                • Dialing back?

                  How about you dial back on 33 years of bullshit and lies, buddy and stop being such a neo liberal apologist?

                  Its guys like Espiner and co that have enabled these neo liberal pricks to be seen with soft sentimental lenses ‘ because they are senior statesman types’ – or otherwise fulfilling some sort of perverted ‘ father figure’ in the under-confident NZ psyche.

                  If Espiner cant overcome his boyish state of being overwhelmed by dealing with someone that held such a dubious position of influence over so many at such a critical time then maybe he is the wrong person to be interviewing Palmer.

                  I would challenge you and every other closet neo liberal apologist to answer the fucking question of why someone like Kim Hill wasn’t doing the interviewing instead of a ‘ soft ‘ interviewer Guyon Espiner ?

                  Hill would have torn Palmer to shreds and you know it.

          • Richard McGrath 1.1.1.1.2

            “Dont bullshit and just answer the fucking question.”

            Er… what question?

    • Spot on , Sanctuary and Morrissey. My thoughts as well. I didnt even get 20 mins into it before I lost interest and was disgusted in not only Espiners obvious admiration of the man but the real truth about Palmer.

      I bloody lived through that era and I know what this country was like long BEFORE Rogernomics and the bloody mess it is in now. 33 years of that neo liberal garbage.

      ‘ SIR’ Geoffrey Palmer?

      That mans nothing more than a treasonous louse to me. As have been so many that have followed in his footsteps in both National and Labour since. Just a treasonous , lying pack of thieving neo liberal lice.

      • Sanctuary 1.2.1

        I actually thought Espiner did a good job, he let Palmer talk and we got a relaxed and unguarded interview from Palmer, where he did a pretty good job of condemning himself to any discerning listener.

        • WILD KATIPO 1.2.1.1

          Pretty much. But let not the history books record him ( Palmer ) as anything other than any other past anarcho-capitalist saboteurs , however.

          Because THAT is what the neo liberal IS.

          Call a louse a louse and be done with it.

          No more pandering around trying to find nice words for a treacherous wanker. As for Espiner. the guy was in primary school when others of my age group had to front head on Douglas and his bullshit garbage.

          So I’m hardly going to take Espiner as someone with credibility through life experience.

          Just another newbie in my opinion , by and large.

          • WILD KATIPO 1.2.1.1.1

            Dont believe me ?

            Anarcho-capitalism – Wikipedia
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-capitalism

            Do some relaxing reading and learn what sort of scum have been operating in our country for the last 33 years.

            Hopefully you will want to strip each and every last one of these fuckers of any pretentious, undeserved title they ever have had bestowed on them after reading and realising just how much we have all been played.

          • Richard McGrath 1.2.1.1.2

            “As for Espiner. the guy was in primary school when others of my age group had to front head on Douglas and his bullshit garbage.”

            I too had to front head on the policies of Douglas – it was great. A refreshing change from the Polish shipyard socialism of Muldoon and the National Party that was sending our country to the wall. Hell, I even voted Labour in 1987 as a sign of my appreciation.

            Most of us didn’t realise how oppressed the average New Zealander had been until the Lange government took over.

            • McFlock 1.2.1.1.2.1

              …and doubled the youth suicide rate. You forgot to celebrate that bit.

              • Richard McGrath

                You are confusing correlation with causation. What evidence do you have linking one with the other? How did you eliminate other influences on the youth suicide rate? And why on earth do you suggest that youth suicide is a reason for celebration?

                • McFlock

                  I’m no more confused than you are when you talk about lab4 being refreshing.

                  Many other people had a different experience.

                  As to your last question,you’re a selfish shitheel, so I figured that you’d just be celebrating lower numbers of nonproductive economic units.

                  • Richard McGrath

                    I note you have evaded addressing the issue of correlation/causation. You choose to insult rather than engage, which I think reflects poorly on you.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      You have another reasonable cause to suggest for the doubling of the youth suicide rate (other than the prevailing economic policy which threw many into economic hardship)?

                      The causal argument of economic hardship and disengagement leading to a decision to suicide is more than clear, as is the correlation. You need to suggest something stronger.

                    • McFlock

                      Not really.

                      I know you’d never be convinced that the waddling, quacking, feathery thing in front of you is a duck. No point flogging those dead teenagers.

                    • Richard McGrath

                      The onus is on those suggesting a causal relationship to prove it, not for me to suggest an alternative cause for any increase in the youth suicide rate.

                      Female youth (age 15-24) suicide rates decreased year on year from 1988 to 1991, by the way.

                    • McFlock

                      No onus.

                      Female youth (age 15-24) suicide rates decreased year on year from 1988 to 1991, by the way.

                      Figure 57 says you like to pick cherries, by the way. Slight declines in 15-24yo female suicide rates in the last two years of lab4 still leave a higher suicide rate in than group than in 1984 and don’t offset the year on year increases in male suicide rates, and frankly you probably know that, you dissembling fuckwit.

            • Nic the NZer 1.2.1.1.2.2

              McFlock identified the correlation between changes in the economy (exacerbating economic hardship for some) and a rise in the suicide rate.

              Richard pointed out that correlation does not imply causation.

              But the causal link here between economic hardship and a decision to suicide on an individual case by case basis, is well known. This implies the causal link between the correlation of certain economic changes and a rise in the aggregate suicide rate is real.

              The onus remains on Richard to establish a stronger alternative or at least identify a potential confounding factor. The reason the onus is on Richard is because of the strong (if well known) evidence that the correlation here is caused by a causal mechanism. This is bolstered by similar correlations also applying in other countries where mass economic hardship was experienced (not necessarily so intentionally).

              The evidence here is about as strong as you will see for anything in any social science (including the entire sub domain of economics).

      • Once ..whatever 1.2.2

        Indeed. As he said himself – Thank Christ I didn’t become a journalist (to paraphrase) – or we’d have gotten to the shitty state we’re in a lot sooner with the MSM.
        There were a few other indicators as to where he stands as well (the true neo-lib though not wanting to admit it) – like the reforms “happened too quickly” – but you know ….. TINA
        And a few other bits like ‘fortress New Zealand’ – Christ on a bike – he should look at a few immigration laws NOW based almost completely on monetary value of the immigrant rather than their worth as citizens and the contribution they’re likely to make.
        Whether intentional or not, S’geoffrey unfortunately was responsible (along with cohorts) for the commodification of all and everything.

        And just so I’m not coming across as totally negative, he was correct (or should I say right) about a few things – all from the position of comfort and security:
        – such as the competence of some of his peers and populist politics
        – a commitment to democratic process and slowing things down (democracy is supposed to be slow and awkward)
        – he’s apparently as scared now as he was when Labour took office and the country was damn near broke – which begs the question “what was the past 30 years all about?” if after those decades of economic brilliance – we could be facing the same shit all again with a different and more potent stink, AND I might add affecting a lot more people
        – etc.

      • Marcus Morris 1.2.3

        I lived through those years as well, just as I had lived through the previous nine years of Muldoon, who under MMP, wouldn’t have got a second term. Muldoon held enormous and frightening power – read Hugh Templeton’s book “All Honourable Men”. I lived through the twelve years of Holyoke’s laissez-faire government when we were dragged into the Vietnam war. I remember well the joy and relief we felt when Norm Kirk finally became P.M. and we showed the world a little intestinal fortitude (nuclear testing in the Pacific). I remember the palpable despair when Kirk died and Muldoon (aided and abetted by Bob Jones who ran a despicable anti Rowling campaign in Wellington) raged virtually unchallenged against the thoroughly decent Bill Rowling . David Lange’s victory over Muldoon in 1984 brought great rejoicing and he and Palmer proved an excellent political leadership team and it was very interesting to get a bit of insight into that relationship via the discussion with Guyon Espiner. A point that wasn’t made was that Labour actually increased its majority in the ’87 elections so the country as a whole was not too concerned at events during Labour’s first three years of office. There is no question that Roger Douglas’ policies paved the way for the neoliberal economics which have prevailed since but it is certain that David Lange became acutely aware of this, albeit too late. The fact that Prebble, Douglas, the Auckland historian, Bassett, went on to form a right wing party more than justified Lange’s concerns. We now have MMP, a system I applaud, and Geoffrey Palmer, a thoroughly decent and honourable man in my opinion, played a large hand in this improvement to the democratic process. Finally, I thought that is was significant that Sir Geoffrey expressed regret that he had “signed off” the sale of Telecom. “treasonous louse” – I don’t think so.

    • Jlo73 1.3

      So you prefer smiling celebrity driven PM’s like John Key then?

  2. red-blooded 2

    Wow – you and I seem to have been listening to different interviews!

    Palmer made some reasonable points and he also admitted that the government he was part of should have provided more support to people who suffered job losses because of their policies. It was interesting to hear his thoughts on issues like Brexit, Trump and compulsory voting. You don’t have to agree with all of his opinions but it’s still worth thinking through his reasoning. And, BTW, there’s nothing wrong with being clever!

    • Morrissey 2.1

      And, BTW, there’s nothing wrong with being clever!

      But there’s everything wrong with being weak, and being bullied and browbeaten by fanatics and murderers….

      http://gazanalysis.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/norman-finkelstein-torpedoing-law-how.html

      • red-blooded 2.1.1

        My “nothing wrong with being clever” comment was a response to Sanctuary’s dismissive “in love with his own cleverness” put down. It wasn’t an endorsement of all things Palmer.

    • Sanctuary 2.2

      Nothing wrong with being clever, but being a clever clogs who projects that as an intellectual hauteur is IMHO an absolutely fatal and fundamental flaw in a (so called in this case) left wing politician.

      Palmer’s ability to diagnose the ills of the world are not particularly unique, you or I could have just have easily rattled of the list of fairly trite topics – climate change, Trump, the crisis of democracy – he did. What struck me about Palmer was his unerring technocratic ability to correctly identify a crisis then just as unerringly use that crisis as a vehicle to push an agenda driven and completely incorrect solution.

      For instance, the crisis of democracy and voting won’t be fixed by a written constitution or fiddling with how we vote. Palmer’s constant fetishisation of mechanistic solutions to political problems with their origin in fundamental clashes between democracy and authoritarian global capitalism is entirely keeping with the machine like mind and lack of imagination of the high priesthood of neo-liberal technocrats across the West.

      • greywarshark 2.2.1

        Sanctuary
        Great summation of Palmer and why his basic ideas offered little to NZ progress as a balanced nation state then. That ‘intellectual hauteur’ you so aptly name, is going to prevent any useful ideas leading to policies to guide us round, or between, our geothermally active land of steaming, plopping mud pools, earthquakes and other natural or slightly man-made disasters. These, mixed with the inevitable disaster leading from being seduced and dazzled by the financial hat-tricks daily presented to us as examples of solid material success are outside his purview it seems.

        • AB 2.2.1.1

          “Palmer’s constant fetishisation of mechanistic solutions to political problems with their origin in fundamental clashes between democracy and authoritarian global capitalism…”
          Very nice – thanks. It explains why I always find him decent enough in a goofy sort of way but somehow infuriatingly ineffectual.

  3. Karen 3

    I found it fascinating – I recommend it to anyone interested in NZ politics.

    I was shocked by that he still supports the economic reforms of Roger Douglas – his only criticism was that they were done too quickly and did not provide enough help to those affected. I think the key to this attitude is his complete and ongoing lack of interest in economics coupled with the fact he was in Chicago during the height of Friedman. He was willing to believe the spin and lacked the interest to dig deeper.

    I didn’t find him arrogant at all. He is clever – why should he pretend otherwise? I also think he is principled and honest – but that doesn’t mean I agree with his analysis on every issue. What was interesting to me was the details about the feud between Lange and Douglas.

    • Grantoc 3.1

      Palmer’s comments in support of Rogernomics have to be seen in context of the times.

      As he said Muldoon was the closest thing to a dictator that NZ has probably ever had. As PM and Finance Minister he personally ran the economy, from deciding how much wages would increase by to what kind of cars could be imported to what interest rates should be.

      He was leading NZ down a similar path to that which Venezuela is presently on – and that leads to societal and economic breakdown. And that in turn negatively impacts working people the most.

      Rogernomics moved NZ back to economic orthodoxy. There were and are issues about the way in which this was implemented; but nevertheless it doesn’t make sense to deny that this should not have happened or to imply that Muldoon’s way was preferable.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        Grantoc
        Politics they say is the art of the possible. You present an either/or possibility. There are always other approaches and game-playing in politics allowing them to be done, considering that there are pressures from the powerful moneyed group on governments and the unions were powerful then too.

        It needed a wily person, with wide economic knowledge, some animal cunning, as well as sterling quality of respect for the people’s needs and how to control their wants, to allow the populace to manage to get an enjoyabe life and achieve their needs.

        But the people were bundled aside in following the chosen neo lib way. The government was not cunning, intelligent or far-seeing, just puffed up with its own cleverness and of being at the forefront of a new economic trend.

      • Karen 3.1.2

        What nonsense, Grantoc.

        The choice wasn’t between the economic mismanagement of Muldoon (which was nothing like that of Venezuela) and Rogernomics. There are many other options of economic management that would not have created the catastrophic levels of inequality that were a result of neoliberalism.

      • dukeofurl 3.1.3

        Muldoon wasnt the closest thing to a dictator.!

        Nixon had a wage freeze in the US in his time too. It was seen as one of the policy options in that era.

        “On the afternoon of Friday, August 13, 1971, these officials along with twelve other high-ranking White House and Treasury advisors met secretly with Nixon at Camp David. There was great debate about what Nixon should do, but ultimately Nixon, relying heavily on the advice of the self-confident Connally, decided to break up Bretton Woods by suspending the convertibility of the dollar into gold; freezing wages and prices for 90 days to combat potential inflationary effects; and impose an import surcharge of 10 percent, to prevent a run on the dollar, stabilize the US economy, and decrease US unemployment and inflation rates, on August 15, 1971

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_shock

        In our time printing money, once unthinkable, has come back in fashion, as the previous idea of manipulating interest rates lost any meaning.

        In the long run Rogernomics has failed, as the principal driver was to increase growth rates over the levels of the previous 20 years. That never happened and we are back to where we were in the 60s and 70s.!

    • Brigid 3.2

      “his only criticism was that they were done too quickly and did not provide enough help to those affected.” And that shows just what a fool Palmer is.
      Not providing for those affected was in the plan.

      And how disgustingly disingenuous such a comment is.

      • red-blooded 3.2.1

        Brigid, on what basis to you claim to know what was “in the plan”? Palmer et al were definitely too rushed, didn’t give enough thought to consequences and got captured by ideology. I think even he was (almost) admitting that. We’ve got to remember the political and economic mess they inherited from Muldoon, though, and we also have to keep in mind the distinction between Rogernomics and Ruthanasia. You might argue that the second couldn’t have happened without the first, but Richardson and her lot would have moved just as swiftly and even more extremely in the neo-lib direction, even if Labour were implacably opposed. I remember that election, with the choice between Douglas and Richardson; talk about a rock and a hard place! I voted Labour, not as an endorsement of Douglas but as a way to stave off Richardson. Remember that it was National who sold off the state assets (they did it again, with different assets, recently) and cut benefits while cutting taxes on business and the wealthy.

        I was opposed to the neo-lib ideology in the 80s and I’m still opposed. I’m bloody glad David Lange finally found the courage to face down Douglas and stave off the flat tax madness. I don’t even drink tea, but that’s one cuppa I’m grateful for! I think it was interesting to hear Palmer reflect on his experience of those days and I’m definitely going to be tuning in for the rest of the series.

        • Once ..whatever 3.2.1.1

          “I think even he was (almost) admitting that”
          Gawd I wish that were true – I’d have a different opinion of the man.
          You’ve even shoved in an ‘(almost)’.
          I now actually have more sympathy for Spud Bolger who I’ve never supported.

          Lange may have woken up, albeit a bit too late. Palmer never did and still hasn’t.
          As a person, I actually quite liked the guy. On reflection, and as I used to watch him strutting around Mt Vic with the Colgate ring of Confidence, I came to realise just how out of touch he became from those he purported to …. you know ….. ‘represent’.

        • Anne 3.2.1.2

          … we also have to keep in mind the distinction between Rogernomics and Ruthanasia.

          Thanks red-blooded. I didn’t get a chance to point out to those intent on placing the blame for neo-liberalism on the 4th Labour govt. … that most of the damage was done in the 1990s.

          I’m referring in particular to the draconian measures introduced by Ruth Richardson which saw thousands upon thousands of people thrown on the scrap heap. I was one of them. At least the 4th Labour Govt. was generous to a fault with their redundancy packages and many people were able to set up on their own because of it. But once R.R. took over, that generosity quickly disappeared. Labour also pledged to ensure that those who fell through the cracks would not be penalised, and would receive every assistance to get back on their feet again. As we know that also went by the board once the Nats gained power.

          It is debatable what would have happened if Labour and managed to squeak back to power in 1990, but bearing in mind Roger Douglas was gone by then, I am certain the “cup of tea” David Lange talked about would have become a more permanent fixture and that would have ultimately allowed Helen Clark to be able to achieve much more during her term as PM.

          • Karen 3.2.1.2.1

            I disagree with this Anne. The changes in tax alone were enough to set the scene for a major increase in inequality, and the creation of SOEs laid the groundwork for the Nats to expand privatisation of state assets.

            Yes, you could argue that the Nats’ cuts in benefits, their sell off of state houses and the Employment Contracts Act were even more damaging but they were only able to do this because of what Labour had set into motion, and because the Left felt so demoralised by the betrayals of the 4th Labour Government that opposition was divided.

            Lange was unable to persuade enough of the caucus to change course – a sad indictment on many of those Labour MPs of that time.

            • Anne 3.2.1.2.1.1

              I’m not denying that what was done in the name of Rogernomics set the scene for the “inequalities” that have persevered since, but it needs to be seen in the context of the the parlous state left by the Muldoon administration. It gave Douglas enormous power… far more so than is normally the case. He literally was given carte blanche to do exactly what he wanted and when he wanted it.

              Lange was unable to persuade enough of the caucus to change course – a sad indictment on many of those Labour MPs of that time.

              A large part of the reason is because a culture of bullying had been encouraged by members of the Douglas clan that was all-pervading. Anyone who dared raise their head above the parapet had it chopped off. That culture spread beyond the parliamentary party too, and there would be many people who can attest to that. Add the over-all confusion which existed at the time and its easy to see why many Labour MPs kept their heads down. It was a very unpleasant time for some of those MPs who did stand up to the Douglas cabal. Ask Jenny Kirk…

            • Richard McGrath 3.2.1.2.1.2

              Always makes me smile when so-called ‘pro-equality’ people push for tax inequality. Douglas’ flat tax together with GST would have achieved tax equality, with everyone paying the same proportion of their income and spending as tax. And those on low incomes would still have benefitted disproportionately from government spending.

    • Anne 3.3

      I didn’t find him arrogant at all. He is clever – why should he pretend otherwise? I also think he is principled and honest – but that doesn’t mean I agree with his analysis on every issue. What was interesting to me was the details about the feud between Lange and Douglas.

      +1000

      And those of us who had knowledge and experience of NZ politics at that time, can commiserate to some extent with the extraordinary crisis through which he had to negotiate almost on his own. I think history will be kind to Geoffrey Palmer. That is, if the precarious position the world currently faces on several levels allows us to have a future.

  4. Cynical jester 4

    Ewww Geoffrey Palmer. The man who said “he had a great deal of fun reforming nz” he had fun whilst so many people committed suicide because they lost everything due to his government. Seems like a lovely chap. Neoliberalism is disgusting.

    • Agreed . What a disgusting little man he is. And to think people like him and Douglas are called ‘ Sirs’ .

      • Sanctuary 4.1.1

        I never call anyone with a knighthood “sir”. I pointblank refuse to do it. It got me in trouble a few times when i worked in hospo, but tough, it is my right in a free country.

        In this country, we have no need for bowing and scraping to these anachronistic “titles” the elite bestow on each other in the name of a woman living on the other side of the planet.

        • ropata 4.1.1.1

          +1 mostly a bunch of ****s (excepting Ed Hillary)

          • Kat 4.1.1.1.1

            Ropata
            And an even bigger “exception” for Peter Blake.

            Mind you Colin Meads hates being called sir, I think he secretly wishes he never had the moniker.

            There are many others who don’t belong in the “a bunch of ****s” league.

            • ropata 4.1.1.1.1.1

              wtf has “sir” colin meads done? professional boofhead and spruiker of snake oil cancer cures. a grade A pillock IMHO

              • Kat

                Colin Meads entertained the public that like rugby and sport similar to Howard Morrison with singing and show business. Ed Hillary climbed a mountain and drove tractors down at the Antarctic.

  5. Nic the NZer 5

    While Palmer explained his distrust of economists assumptions and ideology, particularly that coming from the Chicago school, this didn’t prevent him being subservient to it in ways which defined his political career.

    We should have no doubt as somebody involved in the process, and as a constitutional lawyer he would have understood there were no processes limiting the sovereign governments budgeting process (though this was not discussed explicitely during the interview).

    Never the less when it came to measures required he raises in particular that NZ had to reform during Labour4 fundamentally because of its significant govt deficit and government debt. What he doesn’t seem to have connected here is that the causal harm to the economy here is mostly one of those assumptions and ideologically driven decisions. Had he made this connection he may have made a different decision about the privatization of Telecom which he didn’t think a good idea in and of itself. He also justifies the requirement here based on the factor that the ‘Ship Yard’ economy ran a significant government deficit. While this would have and did put pressure on the fixed exchange rate other reform measures than floating the exchange rate never followed from this, except by following these ideological economic terms (which Palmer claims he understood and didn’t apply).

  6. Mrs Brillo 6

    I think he certainly did achieve some basic reforms which were beneficial.
    He set in place what there is of an integrated environmental protection legislative system, including the Resource Management Act which consolidated more than 95 poorly articulated statutes and alllowed for joined-up management of natural and built environments. He reformed local government structure, and was the first and best environment minister we have had.
    And he had a good go at a written constitution. And he took his crusade against purse seine net fishing to the UN and argued the case against it world wide.He was very pro protecting our natural heritage, and this got up the noses of the fishing industry and a lot more besides who wanted to exploit assets till they were gone.
    If you dismiss him because he did not have the popular appeal of a Key or a Trump, it says more about you than him.

  7. Philgwellington Wellington 7

    I enjoyed listening to this interview. Sir Geoffrey exhibited a Mr Magoo lack of awareness of how his words would reveal the imperfections in his character. It is a reminder to me of how the clever and the powerful are certainly NO better than the rest of us. And the mistakes THEY make have a greater impact on society as a whole.

  8. Gosman 8

    What reforms of the 4th Labour Government would people reverse now?

    • Nic the NZer 8.1

      The reserve bank act should be seriously modified. One change would be that the sitting government can always draw spending as it sees fit at no interest. This would be explicit, not the current implicit arrangement.

      Also GST to be immediately abolished.

      Telecom re-nationalized (due to natural monopoly status of telecommunications).

      • Gosman 8.1.1

        You think there is a natural monopoly in the telecommunications sector do you? So how do you explain Vodophone and 2 Degrees?

        • Nic the NZer 8.1.1.1

          Yes, its called the phone lines (but you knew that).

          • Gosman 8.1.1.1.1

            You mean the ones owned by Chorus?

            What about the mobile networks and other services?

            • Nic the NZer 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Less important to nationalise those, as they don’t form as natural a monopoly there. Obviously Telecom has changed a bit since this was implemented.

              • Michael

                I’d restore a progressive income tax regime and use the revenue to repair some of the damage done by Rogernomics. Make the rich pay for the shit they’ve put the rest of us through. I’d go further too by implementing a few things the fourth Labour government never did, such as: introducing a capital gains tax; penalising tax dodgers and their advisers; stopping corporate welfare to private schools and other emblems of a class-based system of hierarchy; providing for genuinely free-of-charge access to primary health care; outlawing accountacy; and lots, lots more. Perhaps I’ll get the chance in my next life?

                • Nic the NZer

                  I think Gosman was trying to provoke just such responses as ‘Outlawing accountancy’ in his query. On the other points I agree a better tax regime may be fair and desirable, but… the left will burn lots of political capital doing it. Even more if it works so its a long term project. The govt doesnt need to collect more revenue to spend more and deal with inequality that way so its better not to hold off that measure and instead engage in a tax crusade.

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