Cullen did say it after all!

April 21st, 2009 at 5:06 pm by David Farrar

Since I blogged this morning that Dr Cullen may have said “We won, they lost, let’s do lunch” instead of “We won, you lot, eat that”I have been buried in texts and emails from journalists, former MPs, staffers all sure he had. But none of them knew exactly when – in fact some said it was during tax increase law, others re ACC, others some other time.

But finally we have an answer. We have a quote from Hansard on 9 August 2000 (a week before the let’s do lunch one I blogged earlier). It is:

“Eat that! You lost, we won, it [the ECA] goes! It is as simple as that!”

So there has been a minor mangling with the “Eat that” being at the beginning, not the end, but otherwise it is confirmed Dr Cullen did say that. My thanks to AG and all the others who have been at work on this.

Interestingly, one wonders then why Dr Cullen told the SST:

On “We won, you lost, eat that!” No, he says, he never said that to National. “It’s a wonderful piece of historic myth.”

Hardly a myth it seems. I don’t think a minor re-ordering which doesn’t affect the intent or arrogance qualifies Dr Cullen to call it a historic myth.

I’m glad someone finally dug up the actual quote. I was close to e-mailing Dr Cullen himself asking for what he thinks he said!

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33 Responses to “Cullen did say it after all!”

  1. Manolo (13,396 comments) says:

    Yes, Cullen, the same arrogant professor of history, who, after squandering the public finances has now been rewarded by the current government with a plum directorate. Job for the boys, regardless of political conviction.

    In a nutshell, Cullen, as other politicians, is nothing but a crook living handsomely at the expense of the productive sector of the population.

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  2. homepaddock (431 comments) says:

    He also said “I’m proud of the fact that my secondary education was not paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand but by the farmers of Canterbury and Hawkes Bay [he was given a scholarship to Christ's College]. I ripped them off for five years then, and I shall get stuck into them again in the next few years.” but he did – eventually – apologise for saying it: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz-election-2008/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501799&objectid=10538380

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  3. Monty (964 comments) says:

    Labour wil spend the next 12 years of their opposition trying to rewrite history. This is but yet one more example.

    Cullen is a prick and the sooner he leaves the better. Like a yellow belly socialist it is typical that he is running before his failure as Finance Minister is exposed when Billy Reads the budget.

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  4. georgedarroch (316 comments) says:

    Whether you agree with it, or think they had a mandate to do many other things, the reform/repeal of the ECA was something they did have a mandate to do.

    Still, not a good way to treat your opponents. If he didn’t make a habit of it I’d be inclined to write it off… but he was one of the rude men in Parliament. There are still too many of them.

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  5. dad4justice (7,791 comments) says:

    Will history teachers of the future teach students about the many failures of the Doctor Caustic Wit Cullen Era in the Hellenist Regime Period of Absolute Power?

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  6. Komata (1,113 comments) says:

    No D4D, sadly they won’t because Helen’s liitle revisionist 5th-column is still in place within education in New Zealand.

    If anything, they wil probably glorify Dear Leader as being one of New Zealand’s most wonderful politicians of all time, and Cullen as a genuis!!

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  7. mara (726 comments) says:

    Is Dr. Cullen short in height? How short? Just wondering.

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  8. francis (712 comments) says:

    Congrats! I actually REMEMBER him saying it so I’m glad my memory isn’t totally shot!!

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  9. Inventory2 (10,114 comments) says:

    Considering that Cullen was a history lecturer, as others have alluded to, I guess it comes as no surprise that he wants to rewrite those pieces of history that cast him in a bad light.

    But tough – there are enough people around who dislike him enough to make sure that he doesn’t get away with it.

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  10. reid (15,981 comments) says:

    So what?

    It was a momentary lapse of caustic wit typical of the man.

    I can’t believe the conservatives have got so repeatedly excited about it over the years since he said it.

    Who cares?

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  11. Komata (1,113 comments) says:

    Reid

    You asked ‘Who cares’?

    It may have escaped your notice but a lot of KIWI’S care (and i’m not jiust talking about the posters to this ‘blog), and not so much about the words that were used, but the shear, overweening ARROGANCE that was shown by the man concened – and the fact that even now he actually doesn’t give a stuff about anyone else OR THE EFFECT IT HAS HAD ON THIS COUNTRY!!!

    THAT is who cares and why!

    Thought you might like to know, since obviously it doesn’t affect you. . .

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  12. reid (15,981 comments) says:

    Newsflash: Cullen was arrogant.

    Page one: Second Coming Type.

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  13. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    If Cullen did one thing wrong that was really notable.

    That of course is the Islands of Sodor very own trainset.

    Buying back was folly. Paying 6x valuation was breathtakingly reckless as a custodian of the Countries Finances.

    Don’t forget that DD didn’t pick up the indebtedness, (Huh), and then Toll got more treats than a NEW HAMPSHIRE baby shower.

    I still feel that the whole deal was too strange to even dram up even now.

    I still have rodent concerns.

    However we get tosspots like sonic on here moaning about cyclepaths. The paths are already built commie!

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  14. burt (7,840 comments) says:

    reid

    Who cares? Probably very few people but I think the next questions is;

    Why is it that politicians fail to remember that it’s not usually what they did that gets people totally pissed off at them – it’s the attempt to cover it up. That complete Muppet Cullen just couldn’t take it like a man and say something like – ‘Oh that, yes not one of my finer moments…’ could he – NO – The thick prick had to try and pretend that we all made it up and started slagging people off for being stupid enough to believe such myth.

    He is a muppet, but really – Who cares ?

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  15. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    It (ECA) thankfully did go, and thank christ a Labour light Key looks unlikely to tamper too much with the current Employment Relations Act.

    I remember hearing Cullen say that on the radio back in 2000 too, and I laughed and laughed and laughed. It was very clever and fitting of the moment.

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  16. dime (9,472 comments) says:

    Red Sam – how about the “fire at will” law? :P

    still waiting for the examples of employers abusing that law.. toad promised me!

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  17. reid (15,981 comments) says:

    “It (ECA) thankfully did go, and thank christ a Labour light Key looks unlikely to tamper too much with the current Employment Relations Act.”

    Thanks for reminding me Sam. I shall call a meeting of the local VRWC Chapter immediately. It should be gone by lunchtime.

    Eat that.

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  18. hayek (81 comments) says:

    While we are on rewriting of history, let us all remind ourselves that Cullen is in fact a Doctor in Economic History. You may disagree vehemently with his economics, but that disagreement should proceed from an acknowledgement that he is highly qualified in an area of Economics.

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  19. hayek (81 comments) says:

    Also, it occurs to me that logically the “Eat that!” would be likely to apply to the sentence that Cullen said before, rather than after, such an exclamation. Anyone got a fuller quote?

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  20. spector (180 comments) says:

    “While we are on rewriting of history, let us all remind ourselves that Cullen is in fact a Doctor in Economic History. You may disagree vehemently with his economics, but that disagreement should proceed from an acknowledgement that he is highly qualified in an area of Economics”

    Yes Hayek, we can acknowledge that he is highly qualified in Economic history. I’m personally quite well regarded for my knowledge of Rugby history – unfortunately for some reason that didn’t transfer into me having any ability with the ball.

    Although we could argue after Dr Cullen’s statement to the SST that he is qualified in the field of economic truths. But then who am I to throw stones.

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  21. hayek (81 comments) says:

    spector, your analogy is a bit weak: economics is always an academic discipline, whether historic or current (Can you think of a hands-on economist? Perhaps a Marxist one!). It could Cullen’s qualification may indicate antiquated knowledge of the subject, but that’s from where the debate should proceed. If you want to criticise someone it’s best not to wilfully misrepresent them as a startpoint…

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  22. reid (15,981 comments) says:

    Well hayek from his results then perhaps you could argue that never has so much damage been done to so many by someone so qualified.

    Sad to say.

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  23. burt (7,840 comments) says:

    hayek

    May I remind you that earlier today you said;

    Sorry burt and auberon, you will have to find another favoured example of Cullen’s socialistic arrogance… But of course he’s such an evil bastard that your outrage will be perennially justified, right?

    Apparently so and yes, another example of socialist arrogance is you. Give it up, it’s in Hansard, so… eat that. Earlier in this thread you bit down on it but were still questioning the quote. Go on – swallow it.

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  24. hayek (81 comments) says:

    “never has so much damage been done by one so qualified.”

    I would be open to debating such an argument.

    Cullen’s philosophy, as a socialist, is probably less about mean incomes and more about measures like HDI and GINI. So if you were to put it to him or someone his ilk, they would say that he was able to use a version of market-based economic policy to improve a set of stated democratic-socialist ideals such as keeping inequality in check and increase in broadly measured levels of quality of life.

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  25. hayek (81 comments) says:

    Burt: I am still genuinely wondering. If the “eat that” was referring to the “we won, you lost” and it came before it then surely it would be “eat this”? My grammatical side wonders why he would make such a mistake: I also think it somewhat ruins the acerbic force of it, don’t you agree? All this makes me wonder what he said before “eat that”, because if that’s what the “eat that” should go down for posterity as accompanying?

    I’m happy to accept it by the way, I just found the disbelief amusing.

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  26. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,812 comments) says:

    Cullen really did leave New Zealand in a right mess, witness the lastest OECD report on New Zealand.

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  27. reid (15,981 comments) says:

    “keeping inequality in check and increase in broadly measured levels of quality of life.”

    Yeah, I’m not an economist hayek, so I don’t really want to get into technical details, not my field.

    However, I do observe reality. And the reality I observed is that throughout the good times, beginning in the mid-90′s, it was obvious the day of reckoning which we’re now beginning, would arrive. It could not be avoided.

    So how did Cullen store up nuts for this winter? The Cullen Fund? Bzzzzt. That was for the elderly only.

    How else did he show he cared? He didn’t. At all. He cared not a jot about a fundamental very dear to your namesake’s heart: productivity. He demonstrated by his every action year after year that he and Hulun, his accomplice in ruin, cared more about buying votes in their sectors with the common wealth, than the key to preparing the economy for this winter which we now face. He didn’t tune the engine, he didn’t clean its oil, he didn’t service it in anyway other than to leave it running and to harvest its fruits.

    He was a foolish manager of our wealth, which is now being demonstrated as the real effect of his folly bites hard into the hearts of every New Zealander. And you know what? The people who were foolish enough to think he was doing a great job, are now being made redundant, in droves. With a pittance. And large debt. Because they trusted him. And you know what? Those very same people will turn around and blame the current govt for their plight.

    I hope you, who took the name of one of the greatest economists the world has ever known, will have the grace to direct those people toward the person who was really responsible.

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  28. Camryn (550 comments) says:

    hayek – This is probably obvious to everyone else, judging by the lack of traction you’re getting on the point. Cullen’s “Eat that!” most likely refers to the actual event of the passing of the bill, not a previous statement he could’ve made. It was his reaction to the event, and both “Eat that!” and “We won, you lost!” make most sense as such spontaneous reactions. “Eat this!” would only make sense if the following text was news (i.e. information unknown to his audience, the revealing of which “Eat this!” would foreshadow). However, we know Cullen’s role was not to reveal whether or not the bill passed. He was simply a commentator on the fact. Clear enough now? Little mystery solved?

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  29. hayek (81 comments) says:

    Camryn, no mystery: just simply, as people love quotes, we should get the whole one: before “Eat that!” It could be something like “We have the numbers to pass this law” or it could be “Our female leader is hotter than yours” or it could be “Treasury economists tell us that this legislation is going to be great for productivity” :P. Most likely something along the lines of the first one, or it is, like I said, a grammatical mistake.

    Reid, I know about productivity and its importance. I also know that a strong economy is only as good as the society it produces, ie I don’t agree with M Thatcher that there’s “no such thing as society”. For an extreme example, look at Equatorial Guinea. Therefore measures such as Human Development Index or GINI.

    What is biting the NZ now is more the global economic situation than Cullen’s mismanagement: though you can argue about the relative effectiveness, Cullen moved in the right direction on free trade and reducing national debt, for example.

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  30. Camryn (550 comments) says:

    Hayek – As I said, the context is that the law was passed and he was reacting to that event. There was no previous statement to which “Eat that!” is an addendum. Thus, there is no need to presuppose some kind of possible previous statement or the existence of a grammatical error.

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  31. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Very good DPF. Important.

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  32. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Hayek, if you are so knowledgeable about productivity, why are you defending Cullen? New Zealand went down in productivity under his control. I hear different stats that under Labour, productivity was up to 5 percent. It dropped around 2005 dramatically. It is shrinking now. You blame the global economy, and yes that has something to do with it. But you forget the magnitude of the bureacracy growing at an alarming rate of 50 percent!! hiring civil servants and consultants only hurts the economy because the money gets into a loop. Bureaucrats produce nothing. Only titles which you seem so fascinated about with Cullen’s Doctorate of Economic History. What does that produce? Please tell me. The real reason he bought the trains at 6 times its value is because Helen thought the campaign would be centered around the environment. Buying a train would help that cause but at 6 times its value???? Her Doctor only had one thing in mind, winning the election. They lost because Cullen and Helen didn’t understand economics. It hit them like a “train” Key is far more knowledgeable about the real world of economics.

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  33. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    Surely none of you seriously thought Cullen was telling the truth?

    That would be the stuff of myth.

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