More Cullen wit

April 30th, 2009 at 5:57 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

He stood to make his farewell speech to Parliament yesterday after nearly 28 years, observing very few people got the chance to deliver what is in effect their own eulogy “or at least a progress report thereon”. …

“[The 1980s economic reforms] certainly caused me some small financial pain. The biggest speeding fine I ever got was driving back from Whakatane to Wellington in January 1990 when I heard on the news that Geoffrey Palmer was supposedly moving to reinstate Roger Douglas as Minister of Finance. I hit 134kph.”

On the political gamesmanship of Parliament’s question time:
It is, in my view, by far the most effective test of the mettle of ministers and their opponents of any Westminster-style Parliament. Imagine, for example, how well George W. Bush would have survived question time on a daily basis if he had been our Prime Minister. It would have taken many Grecians bearing many sorts of gifts to get him through the experience.”

On the different outlooks of New Zealand and Australia:
“An Aussie believes a little ripper is something good. We are just as likely to fear it might be the son of Jack, let in by mistake by Immigration.”

Sigh. I will miss him. I didn’t like his economic policies (in fact I think they represent the missed opportunity of a lifetime- a decade of waste), but he was a great parliamentarian with a real love for the House and its institutions. Sometimes his wit (especially in their final term) would descend into bitterness or nastiness, but most of the time it was a joy to behold.

When I worked in Parliament, a lot of the staff would gather around a TV to watch question time. And obviously you are there to cheer your own side on. But Cullen was the only Labour MP who could consistently get the partisan Labour-hating (in a competitive sense) Nat staffers clapping and cheering as he skewered a National MP with a witty response.

There were times too, when said National staffers would yell abuse at Dr Cullen’s image on TV, when his tongue went from funny to malicious. The relationship was certainly a love/hate one. But for me, I will remember the good times.

Cullen is the last of the three MPs who could dominate Parliament like no others since Muldoon and Lange. The other two were Peters and Prebble.

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21 Responses to “More Cullen wit”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    Now if only someone’s merits – as a leader, as a manager, even as a man – were measured by the ability to deliver some pithy epithets there might be some basis for your near adulation of this oleagenous (sp?) little creep.

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  2. Inventory2 (10,405 comments) says:

    At least he had the grace to apologise to people he’d hurt, and to admit that he made mistakes – unlike the earlier valedictory speech where the speechmaker said “I leave with no regrets”.

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2009/04/cullens-farewell.html

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  3. Ross Miller (1,706 comments) says:

    Clarke & Cullen walked out on Don Brash’s Valedictory Speech.

    John Key stayed for both of theirs.

    Style and courtesy stakes …. Key 10 – Clarke/Cullen 0

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  4. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Heard a few comments from political commentators, most praising Sullen. Sullen’s farewell speech was very much like those made at funerals, where the recently departed is portrayed as a great chap, salt of the earth and the best thing since sliced bread. In reality he was a lying, cussing, beer swelling, cheating womanizer.

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  5. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I’m glad at least some people like him. I would suggest the vast majority of New Zealanders who are struggling with money, and have half of their family living in Aussie just think he is a prick. And are glad he has gone.

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  6. Akaroa (580 comments) says:

    For Parliamentary wit and repartee David Lange took some beating. When I was in Defence and Lange was Prime Minister he had a regular Monday press conference. The most fiercely sought-after and highly-prized document in the building was the resultant transcript as it was circulated! No matter what you thought of Lange he had a natural wit and speed of retort that was absolutely hilarious. Somebody should have published them! They’d have made a fortune.

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  7. adc (595 comments) says:

    I won’t miss the thug.

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  8. beautox (422 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg : Well said. He wasn’t really smart rather a smartarse. If he was so good at being funny there is a whole profession dedicated to this : comedians. Shame he didn’t join their ranks, rather than spending 9 years wasting money stolen from productive people. Asshole.

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  9. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    Transcript: Valedictory Speech Hon Dr Michael Cullen

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  10. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    Whatever bad he has done, this is not the moment to vilify him for it. His valedictory did remind me of one thing he has done (or contributed significantly to) that people on all political sides should be pleased with: the reform of Parliamentary procedures. The old rules were idiotic and the present arrangements far far more sensible.

    For those who insist on vilifying him still, the burden of your hate is now more a burden on you than on him. Get over it. Move on to a live target.

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  11. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    I’ll vilify him whenever I please, it’s not up to you to make rules about the appropriate time for vilification. Hitler liked dogs, little bits of good don’t overwhelm your main actions.

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  12. cadastre (11 comments) says:

    Posting on Cullen’s departure and reaction in the bloggosphere, Whale Oil said, “You won’t be reading any felching of the c**t on this blog, unlike some others I could mention but won’t because they aren’t in the VRWC any more.”

    I think it’s unlike the Whale to comment so vitriolically on something so trivial. It appears his comments are aimed at you, and I’m speculating, that as a strategy, the VRWC don’t like to be seen to be too chummy.

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  13. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    I particularly liked:

    “It takes a peculiarly warped sense of values to equate using an obsolete, inefficient light bulb to the right to be who you are.”

    :-D

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  14. Manolo (14,029 comments) says:

    “Whatever bad he has done, this is not the moment to vilify him for it.”
    That’s your opinion and I don’t agree with you, S. Russell.

    I believe we have the absolute right to criticise and vilify Cullen, the arrogant man who squandered the golden economic weather in pursue of a failed egalitarian, socialist dream. NZ will pay dearly for his tenure as Finance minister.

    This sad and bitter professor of History should’ve been pensioned off, not rewarded with an SOE board membership.

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  15. somewhatthoughtful (467 comments) says:

    You mean through our low national debt manolo?

    FFS you wingnuts crack me up. He is just ruth richardson with labour colleagues. Even O’Sullivan has said that!!!

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  16. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Nobody will ever convince me that Cullen wasn’t a smart arsed prick. And now that he is leaving parliament this is your last time to speak your thoughts about him – in a year’s time he will be yesterday’s news (although his legacy will remain) and nobody will listen.
    Cullen was nothing like Ruth Ricardson – he didn’t cut anyone’s benfit.

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  17. jackp (668 comments) says:

    You might miss him David but most hard working people won’t. I am talking about the ones who want to get ahead. He had plenty of opportunity to lower the national debt more and reduce the government spending. He was an arrogant socialist. I don’t find him intelligent only pompous with his shallow wit.

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  18. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    jackp et al:

    DPF’s appreciation of the Cullen humour is one of the – few – overt signs I see that Kiwiblog is at all balanced in its views and worth the effort of continued reading.

    I appreciate that the sand pit that is these comments threads is mostly all in good fun… but really, Rightie moral outrage gets old. No-one is applauding the orgiastic Cullen-Hate comments but other morally outraged righties. Get a life!

    Refer to the economic collapse of present-day Zimbabwe or Nero’s Rome to see the difference between Cullen and financial controllers who truly are incompetent.

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  19. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Cullen’s wit –
    10 years of predicted massive deficits – hilarious

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  20. somewhatthoughtful (467 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac: good thing you’ll never have to go up against cullen, you wouldn’t stand a chance

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  21. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,753 comments) says:

    Cullen is a waste of space.

    He cost New Zealand dear.

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