RIP Bob Tizard

Radio NZ report:

Former Labour deputy prime minister has died. He was 91.

Mr Tizard was a Member of Parliament for 31 years and served under six Labour prime ministers. He held several cabinet portfolios and was deputy prime minister to Bill Rowling. He was one of Labour’s most effective MPs, aggressive, well-briefed, with a superb memory and a first-class debater.

Robert James Tizard was born in Auckland in 1924 and educated at Auckland Grammar School. He served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in World War II before studying at Auckland University, where he gained an MA Honours in History.

He taught at the university and at secondary schools until he won the Tamaki seat for Labour in 1957. He lost the seat only three years later, to Robert Muldoon.

Mr Tizard returned to Parliament in a by-election in Otahuhu in early 1963 and remained MP for the area through a number of boundary and name changes until he retired in 1990. His daughter, Judith, succeeded him in what was then the seat of Panmure.

Tizard remained politically active well into his late 80s.

He was one of the few in Parliament who could stand up to Muldoon.

Labour lost the 1975 election and Mr Tizard spent the next nine years in opposition. The party then swept back in the 1984 snap election and he became minister of energy.

In the government’s second term, he was given defence and pushed through the controversial decision to buy two Anzac frigates.

A hugely controversial but correct decision.

Mr Tizard was seen as a compassionate man who hid his concern beneath an abrasive exterior, and he was notoriously frank. He once described the Treasury as “economists gone berserk” and gave the government a foreign policy headache when he said – after the death of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito – that the emperor should have been chopped to pieces for his role in the war.

A view shared by many veterans.

His death leaves (I think) Roger Douglas as the only surviving member (minister) of the 3rd Labour Government.

As always condolences to family and friends of Mr Tizard.

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