Has Jim Bolger become NZ’s Malcolm Fraser, but without all the rooting?

Poor dear old Jim Bolger. He wrote me a lovely letter for my wedding back in 1992.

Sadly his latest musing shows he’s quite possibly lost his marbles as he tries to re-write a bit of history.

RNZ has produced The 9th Floor, a series of conversations with five New Zealand Prime Ministers, from 1989-2008. In the third episode Jim Bolger says it’s time to give some power back to the unions.

I think Jim Bolger might be about to spark a debate. Two debates actually. One on our economic settings and the other on race relations.

He says neoliberalism has failed and suggests unions should have a stronger voice.

Does he remember crushing the unions with Employment Contracts Act, the single most effective legislation ever passed in New Zealand. He should be proud of that.

In a single stroke he de-powered the unions, removed compulsory unionism, and gave control of the economy back to those who invest their own capital. For that he should be hailed as a hero, unfortunately he has now blemished that accolade with his mad socialist ranting against the very policies his government implemented.

He says Treaty of Waitangi settlements may not be full and final and that Maori language tuition should be compulsory in primary schools.

Does he not remember the “fiscal envelope” and the sell job he told the public at the time that these were going to be full and final settlements. Now he is just insulting us all.

This is why politicians should just go away and die quietly after they’ve finished with the public stage. This is why I am opposed to republicanism while Jim Bolger and Helen Clark remain alive.

Bolger says neoliberal economic policies have absolutely failed. It’s not uncommon to hear that now; even the IMF says so.

But to hear it from a former National Prime Minister who pursued privatisation, labour market deregulation, welfare cuts and tax reductions – well that’s pretty interesting.

“They have failed to produce economic growth and what growth there has been has gone to the few at the top,” Bolger says, not of his own policies specifically but of neoliberalism the world over.

He laments the levels of inequality and concludes “that model needs to change.”

Actually, no it doesn’t. It is Jim Bolger who has changed. He has turned into a socialist blouse.

I remember the fuss over charging people for food in hospitals…he copped a flogging over that, but it was my grandmother’s idea…she piped up when she heard politicians talking about what to do from the kitchen of my parents house…she suggested they charge for food…and the politicians, including Bolger loved it. I know because I was there when it was suggested. My grandmother was ever the practical person, but I suspect she voted Labour all her life.

I rang a few former National ministers today to ask what Joan’s address was so I could send flowers. It must be hard living with a bitter old rehabilitated socialist ranting his way through his last years.

It looks like Jim Bolger has become our Malcolm Fraser, but without all the rooting.

 

-Fairfax

 


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