1983 – Back in the Day

April 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

In David’s absence, I’ll be posting a few items in Kiwiblog fashion – focussed on politics

Q+A are researching the political news archives and looking back.  This snippet from last Sunday

The Labour Opposition Chief Whip had refused to provide a voting peer.  Richardson, then a young mum needed to be absent from the house so she could breast feed her newborn baby.  In 1983, Richardson’s vote was essential due to National’s slim majority.

Response from Sir Robert Muldoon

“Jonathan of course is an elderly bachelor, and probably doesn’t understand much of these things, but there must be someone on the other side of the house who has got some compassion for Ruth and the problem in which she finds herself”

I’m cynical enough to believe that Muldoon in needing the vote, found the compassion for a mum on his side of the house (and there’ll be plenty of insiders who can correct this assumption), but what is more interesting is that it is the Labour Chief Whip who did not.  Even so, an invigorated Labour Party would have started to smell victory, and hard to imagine that any breastfeeding mother wouldn’t be bulldozed in that path.

I don’t know the exact legislation or regulations Richardson was helping National to maintain, but during the days of price freezes, ever spiralling inflation, some if not all of the voting must have been through gritted teeth!

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18 Responses to “1983 – Back in the Day”

  1. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    I don’t know at what point Richardson converted to an extreme neoliberal position, but I would guess it was well after 1983.

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  2. MT_Tinman (2,985 comments) says:

    I have a feeling Ruth ended up feeding the kid in the house.

    Muldoon, despite what the slime continually feed everyone, was not all bad.

    In keeping the socialists (comies without the intestinal fortitude) out until 1984 he did good – real good.

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  3. David Garrett (6,368 comments) says:

    Kokila: It may just be a typo, but Richardson was seeking a “voting PAIR” not a “peer”…In the dim dark days of two party politics, the two parties had an arrangement that if one of the government members needed to be away from the House for a bona fide purpose – and therefore could not exercise their vote – the Oppostion would, by granting a “pair”, vote one less person on their side.

    Arrangement became defunct with the advent of MMP and multi party politics.

    Thanks for pointing that out David, have amended – Kokila

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  4. BeaB (2,057 comments) says:

    He was a dad himself so may have had finer feelings than you credit him with.

    Always instructive to see Labour acting according to the values it claims to espouse! Hypocrites and cynics the lot of them!

    That’s right, he might have. I was really young at the time, so I don’t know Muldoon personally at all, but I was more taken by the Labour response

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  5. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Just elucidates the fact, once envious left-wing ignorant losers, always envious left-wing ignorant losers!

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  6. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    Or it could have been a legitimate parliamentary tactic, given the finely balanced House at the time. I reckon it was a bit mean, though.

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  7. nasska (10,633 comments) says:

    Given the last forty years worth of “think of the children” waffle from the socialists it wasn’t just mean…..it was blatant hypocrisy at its finest.

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  8. Kimbo (667 comments) says:

    Muldoon’s actions were completely in character – as were Labour’s.

    Muldoon, while a man of his times (we would now call him a sexist) was usually always compassionate towards the disadvantaged where and when it was deserved. He went out of his way to shield Marilyn Waring (whose temperament was totally unsuited to that of an MP) when the Truth newspaper ran stories about her lesbianism, and was tolerant when she was one of those who illegally invaded the field on the day of the 1981 Springbok vs Waikato game.

    Waring’s lack of loyalty was the reason Muldoon was particularly savage towards her on only one occasion – when she let him down and failed to clarify her membership of the National Party caucus on the matter of nuclear ships, a confidence issue for his Government. Disloyalty was something Muldoon would never tolerate. Her perceived instability and untrustworthiness caused him to call the snap election.

    Labour in contrast, the supposed humanitarians standing up to the supposed Pinochet-like Muldoon regime were always a pack of hypocrites as Hunt’s actions confirm. Ann Hercus hit the roof when a cleaner suffering from heavy menstruation was found cleaning herself in Hercus’ ministerial shower. Geoffrey Palmer had a reputation for humiliating his students during lectures, everyone in their Government postured over sporting contacts with South Africa for years but fawned and slobbered all over a ratbag like Mugabe…and then looked the other way when an unelected racist regime was installed in their own backyard in Fiji…

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  9. flipper (3,544 comments) says:

    “…I’m cynical enough to believe that Muldoon in needing the vote, found the compassion for a mum on his side of the house (and there’ll be plenty of insiders who can correct this assumption), but what is more interesting ..

    ****

    This comment on Muldoon is pure horseshit.

    You, silly woman, clearly never knew Muldoon, nor his love of children.

    My wife and 30 kindergarten children were entertained by RDM and his aircraft models for more than 45 minutes while fumjng Treasury mandarins waited for their deferred appointment.

    Was it a political action by RDM against Hunt? Of course. But that is politics – not ad hominem – and he did not refer to his (Hunt’s) suspected sexuality.

    I’m not at all claiming to know Muldoon, and I don’t see any reference to sexuality – Kokila

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  10. Kimbo (667 comments) says:

    Was it a political action by RDM against Hunt? Of course. But that is politics – not ad hominem – and he did not refer to his (Hunt’s) suspected sexuality.

    Yes, and in anticipation of any Labour trolls attempting to drag up the perpetual grievance of the supposedly unethical attack on Colin Moyle, what is usually always omitted from the details is that Labour members at the time, under Parliamentary privilege were attacking the honesty of Muldoon’s (non-political) business partners.

    When Russell Marshall let out a high-pitched laugh, Muldoon mistook him for Moyle, and gave like-for-like on behalf of his friends who were unable to mount their own defense at the time.

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  11. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    1983? Phil Goff was in parliament then. Given that Lefties remember every detail of their involvement in the 1981 Springbok tour, I’m sure Goff will remember why he wasn’t able to show some compassion for a young mother and her baby.

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  12. anonymouse (695 comments) says:

    A quick look at the results of the 1981 election shows what a totally different poltical system we had,

    There were only 4 women in the entire house, Two in National ( Ruth and Marilyn Waring) and two in Labour (Ann Hercus and Whitu Tirikatane-Sullivan)

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  13. Kimbo (667 comments) says:

    There were only 4 women in the entire house, Two in National ( Ruth and Marilyn Waring) and two in Labour (Ann Hercus and Whitu Tirikatane-Sullivan)

    You are confusing slightly the results of the 1978 election and Parliament as it stood BEFORE the 1981 election- Helen Clark, Fran Wilde and Margaret Shields all came in as result of the election that year – as did Richardson for that matter. Hercus was definitely in there in after the 1978 election. Mary Batchelor (Labour) had also been there since 1972.

    So you are right about 4 women in the 1978–81 Parliament – Waring for National, and Tirikatene-Sullivan, Batchelor, and Hercus for Labour.

    Just saying

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  14. David Garrett (6,368 comments) says:

    flipper: You obviously have some good memories of interactions with Muldoon…and fair enough. But I wouldn’t assume Muldoon was not referring to Hunt’s sexuality when he referred to him as “an elderly bachelor”…There were numerous coded phrases that meant “He’s a homo” back then and earlier…”He’s very musical”; ” a friend of Dorothy’s; and “a confirmed bachelor”…the latter being not a million miles from “an elderly bachelor”.

    As for Moyle, as I recall it his crime was lying to the House about whether he’d been picked up by the police for – as the quaint charge then had it – “importuning male persons” in a public toilet. It was the lying that did him in, not flopping his willy out at some “cottage” in Wellington.

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  15. flipper (3,544 comments) says:

    DG….
    Yes, we had disagreements, some public, but we spent quite a bit of time with him in the north, and in Wellington.

    On Moyle… it was as you describe. I know he (RDM) had the information on Moyle on the evening of the toilet event…and I know his source in the Police by name. He sat on it until he had Moyle in his sights.

    Moyle was provoked by Muldoon, who then, in turn, delivered his slash, as pay-back for his attack on Thea and her cat.

    The whole event has been detailed and will see the light of day in the medium term future. :-)

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  16. Michael (895 comments) says:

    Muldoon was moderately social liberal by the days standards – he didn’t cut back benefits for unmarried mothers and extended national superannuation to all (not just a higher amount to men who were married), he helped Waring after the Truth lesbian allegations, and on reflection afterwards he regretted his role in the Moyle incident. While he didn’t support the original Homosexual Law Reform bill neither did quite a majority – there was an 800,000 strong petition against the bill organised by the Salvation Army and other churches.

    His main problem was he’d often by half-cut by the evening session and economically out of step with the economic reforms needed.

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  17. David Garrett (6,368 comments) says:

    Michael: By all accounts half of them were half cut by the evening session… I remember Roger Douglas telling me that he had never seen one Sir Les Munro sober after lunch!

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  18. Stephen Franks (51 comments) says:

    Ruth Richardson was deeply hurt by the Labour womens’ action. As a feminist she’d worked closely with Anne Hercus (pre-Dame) and others in the Womens Electoral Lobby. She never dreamed they would betray their common cause, and previous relationships, by joining in the vicious attacks on her request for arrangements to feed her baby. If you look at newspaper reports of the time, the left women were not passive or reluctant supporters for the Labour position.
    That rank hypocrisy in their rhetoric about the system’s hostility to women had a significant influence on her approach to politics and reform thereafter. I think it was among the experiences that led to her conviction that little could be acheived by people who relied on consensus.

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