Sir Brian Talboys RIP

June 4th, 2012 at 9:52 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir has died at the age of 90.

Sir Brian, who represented the Southland electorate of Wallace for eight elections from 1957, served as a Minister in the National Governments of Sir Keith Holyoake and Sir Robert Muldoon. He was Deputy Prime Minister under Muldoon from 1975 to 1981.

Born in Whanganui in 1921, Sir Brian served in the air force during World War II. After the war, he settled in Southland as a farmer and entered politics, winning the Wallace seat in 1957.

He was agriculture minister, science minister and then education minister under Holyoake, before becoming deputy leader of the National Party in Opposition in 1974, under Muldoon.

After National’s victory in the 1975 election, he became deputy prime minister and served in that role for the first two terms of the Muldoon Government, retiring in 1981.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Talboys could have been Prime Minister, if he had wanted the job badly enough. In 1980 Jim Bolger, Jim McLay and Derek Quigley organised the “Colonels’ Coup” and settled on Talboys as the preferred replacement for Muldoon. Talboys refused an open challenge though, and Muldoon fought back meaning no vote occured.

It is interesting to consider what may have happened if Talboys had become PM. Without the excesses of third term Muldoon, would we have had the Rogernomics revolution as a reponse?

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11 Responses to “Sir Brian Talboys RIP”

  1. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    RIP Mr Talboys.

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  2. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    A true gentleman of the past-vanishing WWII generation and a good servant of his country.

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  3. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Nice man, one of the gentlemen who graced the hill

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  4. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Yep, nice man. Pity his backgound in the forces didn’t let him rise above the upper rank.

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  5. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    I suspect Tallboys would have been like Palmer was if he had been promoted one more step but he was a good deputy PM, as good as NZ has seen.

    RIP.

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  6. Lindsay Addie (1,515 comments) says:

    One of the most capable Cabinet Ministers New Zealand has ever had (certainly in my estimation).

    RIP

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  7. DJP6-25 (1,387 comments) says:

    RIP Sir Brian.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  8. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    @Lindsay Addie – I couldn’t agree more.

    Interesting take on the psychology behind his refusing to mount a challenge from @Viking2. Could it have been the military mindset, that you don’t challenge the CO even if he’s clearly no longer up to it, that led to his declining to step up to replace Muldoon?

    I think @MT_Tinman underestimates him. Palmer, for all his other qualities, couldn’t connect with other people – whether one-to-one or in small groups or via the media. Talboys had that earthy “everyman” quality that facilitated a human connection (though how he’d have fared under intense media scrutiny is a different matter). If Talboys had taken the opportunity and then followed a “retail politics” strategy, getting out and meeting people – precisely as Key is doing – then he’d have survived I think. Not with the flair of Lange, but certainly with more real connection to the people than was ever evident from Bolger or Shipley.

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  9. David Garrett (7,281 comments) says:

    Welcome back from the desert Rex..

    MT: I tend to agree with you…but then Muldoon was such a dominating figure that he distorts the perception of all who were around him. “Wallace” Rowling – as Muldoon insisted on calling him – would have seemed a much less timid figure if he had been up against someone else.

    As I recall, Tallboys played a considerable part in negotiating continuing access for our dairy products when Britain joined the Common Market. I always thought he was Minister of Overseas Trade, but apparently not.

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  10. dave53 (91 comments) says:

    I knew Talboys fairly well when he was a minister in Muldoon’s government. He was indeed a decent man and a very competent minister.

    I am pleased he lived such a long life. IIRC he had Parkinson’s even then, but it seemed a mild version, unlike the rampant kind that has turned Warwick Roger into a basket case at a much younger age.

    DG, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Overseas Trade under Muldoon. It was Jack Marshall who negotiated our European access, during the Holyoake years.

    A running gag during the last year (1975) of the then Labour government concerned Island Bay Labour MP Gerald O’Brien being arrested for making homosexual advances to two teenagers in a motel. The gag had Bill Rowling (the Labour PM who succeeded Kirk who sadly died in 1974) saying to O’Brien: “Gerald, I told you to get stuck into Talboys, not small boys.”

    (I should note that the charges were dismissed at the Depositions stage).

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  11. David Garrett (7,281 comments) says:

    dave53: Very good…simpler times….My recollection from the period is attending an election meeting prior to the ’75 election run by some Nat hack in a hall somewhere near Palmerston North. Being of a stirring bent – and possessed of great wisdom at age 17 – I asked what the National Party’s policy was on homosexual law reform, an issue which had just…ah..reared its head.

    There was a murmur of discomfort from the audience of crusty farmer types and their wives. The poli (his name escapes me) answered by telling a story about his most unpleasant job of the war which, according to his account, was escorting an officer who had been accused of “hrgggh…hrggh..the CRIME” (as he put it) to a court martial somewhere else. He said he had never seen the morale of the unit at a lower ebb! There was a murmur of approval from the audience, and an old farmer sitting next to us said loudly “That’s what led to the end the Roman Empire wasn’t it Harry?!”

    God knows what he – and Sir Brian – would have made of the current front benches of both major parties….

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