Cox on Muldoon

February 27th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting column by former National MP Michel Cox:

One can envisage Rob, the former corporal, together with two former brigadiers, Duncan McIntyre and David Thompson, sitting up on the ninth floor of the Beehive, planning their next moves. A former private, Colin McLachlan, filled the glasses and fetched more water.

It is amazing how former corporals mix it with history. From Napoleon to Adolf Hitler to Idi Amin to Robert David Muldoon; all have played interesting roles.

Not the most flattering comparisons. I suspect Michael was not a big fan!

The House was in “urgency”, to enable it to pass the Finance Bill through its third reading. This bill contained the Budget. Sixteen days of debate had passed, perusing every item, since Budget Day when had moved its first reading. In those times “urgency” meant that the house sat until all the required bills were passed; no knocking off at midnight, but a slog to the end.

After helping to dispatch the first bottle, Rob decided to see what his caucus members could offer. He was on the prowl. I kept a bottle with only a couple of nips in it for such visitors; not all my colleagues were as cautious.

As a whip, I was designated to keep an eye on our leader as he would be required to move the third reading in the debating chamber when the time came.

At 2am Rob rolled into the chamber, obviously high as a kite and took his seat. The Opposition could see the state he was in. “Rob, we’re over here!” called out an exuberant and waving David Lange. 

Heh, Lange was such a funny man.

The time came when Rob was required to move the third reading. He stood and was recognised by the Speaker; “The Right Honourable Robert Muldoon,” he called thrice, only to be met with a drunken grin.

It was obvious to us whips that Rob could either stand or he could speak, but he couldn’t do both at once. After several attempts we made another senior minister sit with him to distract him in his attempts to put the final touches to a Budget.

While he was so distracted we made the Associate Minister of Finance, John Falloon, stand and move the third reading.

The days before the House was televised!

When Marilyn Waring resigned from the National caucus, he grabbed his opportunity, and called a snap election. Marilyn’s letter of resignation arrived on my desk and I delivered it to Rob who told me to check with every marginal member to see if they were ready to face the electorate.

This was about three in the afternoon, and the drinking began – brandy was the tipple. He had finished the bottle and at 10.30pm announced to the media and caucus that he would hold an election on Bastille Day. We stood behind him, ready to catch him should he stumble. At that time National was up in the polls by 8 per cent, but when, probably with an awful hangover, he blamed Marilyn for this sudden event, his credibility and our lead collapsed. The rest is history.

I always thought Tom Scott’s cartoon summed up that day. He had Rob sitting up in his bed in Vogel House, with an ice pack on his head.

“Thea [his wife]” he said, “I dreamt that I called a snap election!”

One of the best cartoons ever!

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40 Responses to “Cox on Muldoon”

  1. Keeping Stock (10,092 comments) says:

    Ah yes; the infamous night when Muldoon called a snap election. The meme doing the rounds around that time was that he had been as diabetic as a newt.

    But who could ever forget this?

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  2. thedavincimode (6,526 comments) says:

    Classic. Absolutely shitfaced.

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  3. Prince (90 comments) says:

    Hilarious, but also deeply troubling. An embarrassment for National, and a stain on all the ministers and MP’s that stood by and allowed it to happen.
    1974-1984 were lost years for NZ, only a visionary and courageous Labour Govt 1985-1988 saved us.

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  4. nasska (10,611 comments) says:

    He was stewed but it led to one of the better lines from Barrie Leay describing Prime Minister Muldoon on the evening of June 1984 when he called a snap election.

    ” He was as pissed as a fiddlers cat”.

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  5. nasska (10,611 comments) says:

    In the same vein Sir Robert Jones is on record as saying that Muldoon was asked along to a “fairly respectable cocktail party” at the Jones house. “He went a bit rampant, chasing my sister as it transpired, around the house,” says Jones. His sister, Pat Brockie, was clothed; Muldoon was not. Muldoon was headed off at the pass by “one of our captains of industry”; Ms Brockie was “pretty irate”, says Jones.

    New Zealand at the time was vanishing down the financial toilet but RDM was definitely one of our more colourful leaders.

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  6. Reid (15,912 comments) says:

    An embarrassment for National, and a stain on all the ministers and MP’s that stood by and allowed it to happen.

    Funnily enough Prince I feel exactly the same way about Hulun but unfortunately Muldoon’s ministers and MPs had about as much chance of stopping Muldoon as Hulun’s ministers and MPs had of stopping her.

    I suspect Michael was not a big fan!

    No he wasn’t. Remember he was the 4th man in the Colonel’s coup.

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  7. burt (7,791 comments) says:

    Reid

    I’d rather not imagine Hulun chasing one of Bob’s sisters around naked !

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  8. burt (7,791 comments) says:

    I find it hilarious that the current day left still slag off Muldoon when their current day policies are remarkable like the old socialist implemented. Nationalise anything they can, create state run monopolies and endless regulation to compensate for the (* well meaning – but fatally flawed * ) intervention.

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  9. Gulag1917 (638 comments) says:

    I bet Rob help sell a lot of newspapers.

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  10. Warren Murray (271 comments) says:

    Muldoon had his faults, no doubt. However i get a bit tired of reading comments that demonise him, and its even worse when it comes from MPs of his own party at that time who couldn’t stand up to him then but have the courage to bag him now he’s dead.

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  11. Gulag1917 (638 comments) says:

    Rob kept NZ entertained for nine years how many PMs have done that.

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  12. alwyn (380 comments) says:

    I hope Mr Cox’s memories of Muldoon are a bit better than his memories about Napoleon’s military career.
    He seems to think that Naopleon, like Muldoon, was a Corporal.
    Napoleon, born in 1769, entered the Ecole Militaire at the age of 15 and, graduating a year later, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He remained an officer for the remainder of his career, to the best of my recollection. I would love to know when he was genuinely a Corporal.
    Oh well, don’t let a few facts get in the way of a story.

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  13. tvb (4,194 comments) says:

    Utterly eccentric man who nearly wreaked the NZ economy. We came within a hairs breath of default. It was avoided when Lange as incoming PM ordered him to devalue and Jim McLay and other Ministers told him to obey. God he was awful, never again I hope.

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  14. Don the Kiwi (1,582 comments) says:

    I intensely disliked Muldoon.
    He was a character assassin and brutal in dealing with those who did not agree with him.
    He was the most socialist prime minister we have ever had, barring Heilen Klarke – who was a bigger bitch than Muldoon was an arsehole – but ARSEHOLE he was.
    Thea was a real lady – he was blessed to have her for his spouse.
    Despite all, I hope he rests at peace with his God.

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  15. Huevon (184 comments) says:

    One can’t but feel nostalgic for those simpler, more laconic times; when great affairs of state could be settled by gentlemen, pissed as chooks. Could you imagine any politico today matching Rob Muldoon for his rejoinder when asked about the timing of the election?

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  16. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    I am currently re-reading NZ The way I Want It by Bob Jones.

    It gives a view of Muldoon not popular today but a damned sight more honest than most of the recent comment.

    A read I thoroughly recommend!

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  17. Sponge (139 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman,

    A very valid point. I have that and a host of other books from the time and the vilification that came after his departure was not shared while he was in power. That cannot be put down to fear of the repercussions at the time either – Jones’s books being good examples as he was hardly scared of the man.

    He may have been a nasty man with warped economic views but even with hindsight it cannot be denied he was bloody popular.

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  18. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Sponge, that he was.

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  19. duggledog (1,333 comments) says:

    I remember going to a rural hall packed with farmers to hear Bob Jones speak, when he had the NZ Party. I went with my father. I don’t remember anything of the content of Jones’ speech being but a lad at the time, but there was overwhelming support of whatever it was Jones was saying. My dad never, ever divulged his voting preference but I believe he was a National supporter – except at that election.

    I now know what Jones would have spoken of, and exactly what was happening at the time.

    I find what some people spout about those times exceedingly glib and foolish. They were different times and some of Muldoon’s ill-fated decisions were a response to how the world was then, and executed with the best advice there was, at the time. Like the government guarantees on SCF.

    What an utter, utter disaster though.

    I think, just like Winston now, Muldoon was a drinker, set in his ways and couldn’t or wouldn’t see the times were a-changing. And believed his own publicity.

    MT – The Way I Want It, that’s not one I’ve read but I will have to try and track it down

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  20. wiseowl (751 comments) says:

    I get really pissed off with these people who come out of the woodwork years later and put the boot in to Rob.
    Michael Cox was one of the most useless MP’s National ever had and for him to make this comment now speaks volumes.
    I’ll tell you right now that Rob would not have put up with the crap we get these days from the left he would have put Clark in her place and also he would have told the racist party where to go.
    He was not into appeasement or backing down to idiots.
    The continued bullshit written with no balance and the seedy selectiveness that is used to villify a great leader makes me angry.

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  21. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Yeah Rob was great what about the Gang Convention he opened in Mangere and the Pack Rape after it

    YEp WHAT SCUM BAGS

    But that is NATIONAL TO A T

    THAT IS ROB
    Friends with the GANGS

    TO THIS DAY AND EVERY ONE AFTER

    NATIONAL IS SOFT ON VIOLENT CRIME IN NEW ZEALAND

    Soft on Violent CRIME THAT IS THE RIGHT

    THAT IS ROB THAT IS NATIONAL
    THAT IS FLABBY BLOATED SMUG FAT CENTRE RIGHT IN NEW ZEALAND

    THE LAND OF CHILD MURDERERS

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  22. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    IN BED WITH THE GANGS AND THE GANGS HAVE GROWN

    A BLACK POWER APPEASER THAT IS ALL HE WAS

    THAT IS HIS LEGACY AND THAT IS ALL HE STOOD FOR

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  23. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IS IF AND HOW MUCH MONEY

    HAS BLACK POWERS “LEGITIMATE” BUSINESSES AND
    IT HAS THEM

    HOW MUCH HAVE THEY DONATED TO POLITICAL PARTIES IN NEW ZEALAND

    IN RETURN FOR A SOFT STANCE ON CERTAIN ISSUES

    TOO SCARED TO ASK EH KIWIS

    TOO BUSY CHANGING THE LAWS SO YOU CAN BASH KIDS AGAIN EH YOU BIG BRAVE MEN OF NEW ZEALAND

    THEY HAVE A FLAG NOW DON”T THEY THE FASCISTS

    TAKE YOU ROSE TINTED GLASSES OFF PEOPLE ALL THAT PERIOD OF NEW ZEALAND’S HISTORY
    DID WAS LAY A FOUNDATION FOR CAVING IN AND GIVING VIOLENT BRATS
    GVT MONEY AND NO REAL PUNISHMENTS FOR VIOLENT CRIME

    AND INNOCENT NEW ZEALANDERS HAVE DIED AND CONTINUE TO DO SO BECAUSE OF THESE PRETEND RIGHT LETTUCE LEAVES

    BOTH NATIONAL AND LABOUT STILL WIPE THEIR BACKSIDES ON THE BINDING REFERENDUM ON VIOLENT CRIME

    AND ROB AND HIS MOB IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY

    GREAT BIG LONG NEVER ENDING BAD JOKE

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  24. Keeping Stock (10,092 comments) says:

    Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness Ben Dover. Turn off the caps lock, put the cork back in the bottle, and seek help :D

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  25. Lipo (229 comments) says:

    I need to be in a fit and proper state to drive a car. The police can pull me over on the side of the road to test that I am not under the influence of alcohol.
    Yet I can run a country, vote in the House of Parliament – and there is no test to my sobriety.

    Politicians should have to pass a breath test every time they enter the House !!

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  26. Bogusnews (441 comments) says:

    There is no question that Muldoon almost destroyed NZ’s economy. the Fortress NZ approach was tried in Russia with catastrophic results.

    However, there is also no question that he was the last of a particular breed of politician. I well remember how he intervened in the Arthur Allen Thomas case. He researched the case thoroughly, recognised he was an innocent man, then single handedly had him released.

    I can’t think of any politician now adays that have the morals and guts to do that.

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  27. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Muldoon was a cunning politician, but was also a totally unpleasant, drunken bastard bereft of any scruples whatsoever.

    The way he turned the country into near civil war in 1981, for purely political reasons, was disgusting.

    The thought of that fat belled arsehole running around naked would make most people want to vomit.

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  28. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Caps lock off

    Rob Muldoon was a Great Leader who
    did Wonderful things for the development of Gangs in New Zealand

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  29. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Rob Muldoon was well loved by the Gangs and those who love the gangs
    and that gang love was reciprocated

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  30. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    An innocent Woman was pack raped by people who attended a
    Gang Convention opened by Rob Muldoon

    That is what a Great Leader
    he paved the way for New Zealand

    He was a trail blazer was Rob when it came to Gangs
    and he left a legacy for all Future National Party Leaders to aspire to.

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  31. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    The Gangs Loved Rob

    they still do and that says it all

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  32. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Miss you Rob and thank you for all the Great things you did for New Zealand

    thank you thank you thank you

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  33. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Mongrel Mob gathering at Ambury Park, Mangere, in 1988 is remembered for the abduction and rape of a 19-year-old woman.

    During the nine hour ordeal she was beaten, covered in petrol, urinated on and photographed before she escaped.

    Before that gathering the gang had told regional council and community representatives that its members would act responsibly.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10357136

    Check your Records amasing how the Herald FAILS to point out

    this convention was attended by no other than

    _ _

    DO YOU OWN RESEARCH ON ALL OF THIS BEFORE YOU DARE TELL ME TO TRUN THE CAPS LOCK
    OFF

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  34. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    His charisma led to then-Prime Minister David Lange attending a mob convention – a gathering that ended in the abduction and pack rape of an 18-year-old girl in 1986 and put the words Ambury Park – the South Auckland site of the rape – into New Zealand’s consciousness.

    LANGE MULDOON

    DIFFERENT FACE OF THE SAME COIN

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  35. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10485666

    The competition between National and Labour to be the softest on GANGS and Rapists

    begins with Rob the Pioneer of NZ Gang policy

    that is one Policy that has worked a Treat Eh

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  36. Sofia (817 comments) says:

    Feel better, Ben?

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  37. Sofia (817 comments) says:

    Keith Reading Allen (1931 – 15 June 1984)

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  38. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Andronicus (178 comments) says:
    February 28th, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    The way he turned the country into near civil war in 1981, for purely political reasons, was disgusting.

    Balls!

    Muldoon did no such thing, as evidenced by his election win later that year.

    The scum who “turned the country into near civil war in 1981″ were the racist-fronted “protesters” who Muldoon, like any sensible, honest NZer, detested with a passion.

    Those with a brain still do!

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  39. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Great Era of NZ History – the appeasement and nurturing of Gangs

    Incredible from compulsory unionism to the employment contracts act

    Cuckoo Left Right and Centre

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  40. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    ROBS MOB DO THE JOB

    WITH THE GANGS

    AND COS WE ARE NATIONAL

    the first thing we do is have a referendum on BASHING KIDS
    because it is OUR RIGHT TO BASH OUR KIDS EH

    EH COS WE ARE KIWIS EH

    AND WE ARE GOOD AT GIVING THE KIDS THE BASH EH

    an NATIONAL they let us give the KIDS DA BASH AGAIN EH

    Despite having nearly the Fourth highest child murder rate in the world

    National eh

    WE BRING BACK THE BASH

    EH EH EH

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