Did Lange lie?

April 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

’s former chief adviser Gerald Hensley has come to the conclusion that the former Prime Minister lied about his early involvement in the anti-nuclear crisis that gripped the fourth Labour Government.

Well he was either incompetent, or lied. Maybe both.

But the bigger shock for Mr Hensley came during research for the book. He said not only had Mr Lange told colleagues he had known nothing about the Buchanan until he had returned from Tokelau but he also told some that it had all been the work of Mr Hensley, Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Mr Hensley said the discovery made him feel “a bit sad”.

“I mean, I like David, still, you might say against some of the evidence.

“He was such a warm, humorous, human man and I knew that he embroidered things, altered them round to make a better story, but I hadn’t actually thought of him being an actual liar.

“But I’m afraid you really can’t use any other word for this. It was a conscious lie to protect himself in the debacle that followed the collapse of the Buchanan visit. And I was a bit shocked.”

If Lange said he was unaware of the Buchanan invite, it was a clear lie.

Margaret Pope, initially Mr Lange’s chief speechwriter, wrote to a newspaper in 1994 saying the PM had not known about the Buchanan until he got back from Tokelau, but she had since acknowledged that was not so.

Of course he knew. Officials don’t invite ships without the approval of the Prime Minister.

Mr Hensley, Ms Pope and Sir Geoffrey Palmer will appear on The Nation, TV3, tomorrow at 9.30am.

That could be interesting.

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35 Responses to “Did Lange lie?”

  1. OneTrack (2,818 comments) says:

    “That could be interesting.” – Why?

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  2. Mark (1,432 comments) says:

    So what are we to take from this new revelation that politicians including prime ministers lie?

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  3. Mark (1,432 comments) says:

    Lange may not have lied, he simply may not have remembered :)

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  4. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    Politicians are snakes so why should Hensley be surprised the invitation of the Buchanan was blamed on him. That suited Lange very well. George Schultz though Lange had double crossed him and never trusted him. Lange thought he could play at international politics like some sleezy deal within the Labour caucus or his former profession practicising in the summary criminal court in Auckland.

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  5. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Lange, saint patron of the anti-nuclear Left. In reality, an incompetent and oratorially-gifted socialist PM.
    Just ask Roger Douglas.

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  6. Ed Snack (1,800 comments) says:

    Politicians lie, big time, all the time. Next up, water Is wet, news at 11

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  7. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Duh – A politician lying – whoever would have thunk. With labour politicians its mandatory

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  8. Judith (8,455 comments) says:

    I know, lets have a seance and make him confess, that will really clean up society.

    So what does this mean for us, for today? Will it mean my dinner won’t get served? Will I have to pay extra tax? Will John Key now say – I’m just following a precedent set by Lange?

    I fail to see the importance – they are all a pack of liars – don’t expect the truth from a politician and that way you will never be disappointed.

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  9. Judith (8,455 comments) says:

    Mark (1,090) Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Perhaps he just couldn’t recall? Apparently sitting in the debating chamber plays havoc with the part of the brain responsible for memory recall – the longer you sit the worse it gets. Hone will never suffer the same phenomena.

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  10. Ross12 (1,278 comments) says:

    Don’t forget Hensley is out selling his book.

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  11. Judith (8,455 comments) says:

    Ross12 (357) Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 4:10 pm
    Don’t forget Hensley is out selling his book.
    ——————————-

    Sshhh – don’t ruin a good story – they are just getting started – no one here wants to know the practicalities. ;-)

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  12. Michael (899 comments) says:

    Of course Lange lied. First he told the USA he wanted to stay in ANZUS. Then when they chose a non-nuclear powered naval ship that was built without the capability to hold nuclear weapons (and then send it via Japan, where an informal agreement meant that nuclear weapons are not on ships that go there) to visit NZ. Lange dodged the decision by going on a friendship tour, but when Palmer mishandled the press conference Lange went back on his word and effectively banned all US and British naval ships from NZ ports by saying so.

    As expected when given a diplomatic slap in the face, the US were incensed. So Lange found someone else to blame to distance himself – in this case Henley. But you can’t get away from Henley being the public servant, Lange being the PM.

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  13. Steve (North Shore) (4,522 comments) says:

    What would be interesting is someone getting answers from the Americans involved at the time.
    What’s that? The truth may come out? Heaven forbid

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  14. toms (301 comments) says:

    One of the chief cheerleaders of the geriatric generals is trying to rewrite history by making up stories about the dead. Typical. As is trying to re-fight thirty year old lost battles because Hensley can’t admit he was on the wrong side of NZ history. A tragic old man.

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  15. Reid (16,111 comments) says:

    As expected when given a diplomatic slap in the face, the US were incensed. So Lange found someone else to blame to distance himself – in this case Henley.

    No this was the coup de grace for ANZUS which was always Hulun’s plan. Remember in Hensley’s account, Lange had spoken with the Americans and had agreed on a suitable vessel as a test case.

    Then he turns around and blows that extended hand of friendship out of the water. The PM of NZ, did that to the US, after agreeing to a compromise deal.

    As is trying to re-fight thirty year old lost battles because Hensley can’t admit he was on the wrong side of NZ history.

    No it’s much more likely Hensley was forced to wait until the required papers were declassified in both the US and here so he could refer to them in his book. At least that’s what happens in the real actual world, as opposed to whatever fantasy world you live in.

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    I suppose it is possible that another country might accept that an order was not given by the PM, but by an underling.
    But they wouldn’t accept that the PM didn’t remedy it, and if he didn’t remedy it then accept that had been his intention all along despite who it might be trying to blame.

    No Reid not ‘much more likely’ that Hensley would wait, as we’ve seen recently ‘stuff’ leaks when the players want it to. Where are, and who are those that ‘confirmed’ this ‘story’ to Hensley?

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  17. duggledog (1,439 comments) says:

    Lange was an extremely successful lawyer prior to politics remember, with a particular genius for getting bad motherf***ers off.

    The most interesting thing I found whilst reading his biography was what he omitted or glossed over in a few paras. How funny that Helen – after spending her early years as a hater of America – ended up on her knees before them when she found out what real power is. Although Lange didn’t like her. Awful people.

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  18. Snarkle (118 comments) says:

    One thing I’ve always felt about David Lange is that his famous riposte “I can smell the uranium on your breath” is a great example of argumentum ad hominem. The poor guy opposing him tries to make a point (that you can’t have the US as an Ally in some things and not in others) and gets laughed off the stage. Perhaps David didn’t have a reasoned response and resorted to a cheap (but funny) shot.

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  19. duggledog (1,439 comments) says:

    Toms, I don’t believe Hensley is the sort of guy who wants to ‘re-fight thirty year old battles’. More like he wants to set the record straight, as a man of principles and as Reid says he had to wait until declassification.

    And as far as hawking his book, nobody writes a book in this country and expects to make any money out of it. Except Wishart and a rugby hero.

    Hensley may have been on the wrong side of NZ history but that doesn’t mean he was wrong. I’m buying his book as soon as I can.

    I hope for your sake (I assume you are dependent on the state some how) nobody tells any of our current trade partners to go f*** themselves like the 4th LG did, because what happens then is we lose all the marvellous accoutrements of the champagne on a beer budget socialist state you clearly expect will somehow last forever. Overnight. Good night

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  20. flipper (3,847 comments) says:

    I first knew Hensley when he was with the NZ Embassy in Washington.
    A straight shooter, no less.

    Lange was a flake, and a liar – PERIOD.

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  21. Dennis Horne (2,221 comments) says:

    Lange was clever and had a quick tongue but he was a coward. I think he got caught in a sticky web and his mind went into denial mode. Wishful thinking more than planned deception, lying. He thought it would all go away, but others wouldn’t let it. I rather liked him, personally.

    The Nuclear Free Zone has never been anything more than a load of tommy rot. The expulsion from Anzus reduced New Zealanders to a nation of bludgers, unable to play their part pressuring the USSR to reform. It was embarrassing and has proved costly.

    Make no mistake about it, there is a price for defence, and it’s paid in soldiers’ lives. Right now. Anyone who thinks our contribution in Iraq and Afghanistan is of any consequence militarily is in the military. Ah, the human mind can work wonders.

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  22. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    @duggledog

    Lange was an extremely successful lawyer prior to politics remember, with a particular genius for getting bad motherf***ers off.

    lange was an extremely fat bastard who was not a sucessful lawyer, he had genuis for one line put downs which you learn to do when you are an extremely fat bastard and not a very successful lawyer.

    He was a piss weak politician who amazingly enough is one of the few people I have heard of who has been dead for years and still has his spine walking around i.e Margaret Pope and she’s still making excuses for the bugger .

    Flipper incapsulates Lange perfectly

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  23. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay, most of the people reading this will think one line put downs win criminal cases. Like on the telly :)

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  24. Floyd60 (90 comments) says:

    Smoke-screen politics. John Key is failing.

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  25. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Thanks PEB. I’ll never forgive myself for voting for the disgusting little fat prick once just cause I thought Muldoon was a megalomaniac mad fucker.

    Still he got Sir Roger into the seat with all the levers and knobs.

    Even a loser gets to achieve something in his life I guess! :)

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  26. Dennis Horne (2,221 comments) says:

    For Johnboy

    We admire people for their strengths
    But we love them for their weaknesses
    David Lange would go to any lengths
    To cover well his personal excesses
    Especially for that very extensive torso
    His tailor loved him even more so.

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  27. kowtow (7,951 comments) says:

    The “I can smell……” line from that debate is constantly used by our shit media and commentariat as the big one,NZ sticks it to the world etc etc …….

    when acually,noone outside of those inbred commie media dinner party uni academic ,we’ll save the world dickhead circles gives a flying fuck about what the fat fucker said.

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  28. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Still kowtow Naomi had him dead to rights when she said: “I can smell the fish on your breath Davie!” :)

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  29. RandySavage (202 comments) says:

    levers and knobs? Sir Roger?
    knob to be exact, couldnt run a pig farm and tried to turn this country into one
    years later
    he was caught with his snout firmly entrenched in the trough
    the proverbial wouldnt piss on him if he was on fire
    dpf I knew upon hearing of this today you would “rush” to pour fuel on the reputation of the man. Either side of the political divide you guys hold no surprises

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  30. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Horny old chap. You wrote a poem just for little me!!!!

    I really am touched…Sob! :)

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  31. RandySavage (202 comments) says:

    have another drink mate

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  32. Mark (1,432 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay (3,590) Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    Duh – A politician lying – whoever would have thunk. With labour politicians its mandatory

    Good god is Key a labour politician??

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  33. niggly (813 comments) says:

    Former Cabinet minister (and political historian) Michael Bassett also covered this issue rather well a few years ago now:

    http://www.michaelbassett.co.nz/article_fulbright.htm

    A number of Labour politicians and Party officials don’t come out well with their manipulating of the issue to further their own grip on power.

    And this is modern Labour’s “back-story”. Nothing has changed really.

    It will be interesting to compare Gerald Hensley’s research with Bassett’s. It should be a good read (and also from a political/historical perspective,no matter which side of the fence one sits)!

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  34. Reg (544 comments) says:

    Lange’s refusal to allow port access to the USS Buchanan after intimating to the Americans it would be accepted would rank as one of the most disgraceful acts ever perpertrateted by a New Zealand Prime Minister.
    This cowardly action after being faced down by Clark, Wilson and Anderton, resulted in the dissolution of he ANZUS alliance and insulted the nation that sacrificed 60,000 of it’s young men to save us from Japanese occupation.
    This arrogant decision, resulted in the US withdrawing it’s security guarantees and left NZ following a so called independent foreign policy. Our sovereignty and territorial integrity was no longer underwritten by the world greatest power, but by a demoralised military of 8000 men.
    Lange went on to be the great apostle of the anti-nuclear movement, lauded by the left wing intelligensia for his “I can smell uranium on your breath” remark, yet knowing that the US would still more than likely come to our aid if the proverbial hit the fan.

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  35. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    A bit of a tragic figure really. His autobiography makes for grim reading. He gave the impression that he felt like his whole life had been a waste.

    I can’t help but think how wonderful it would have been had he won the 1987 election, promptly expired of a heart attack, and left Roger Douglas in charge of the country with Prebs as Finance Minister. He would be remembered for his great deeds of those first three years, rather than what followed.

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