Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bolger's Port

In cleaning up mum's place, we came across an almost untouched bottle of Bellamy's Port.
This was a gift from the then Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, when I worked in his administration in the Parliamentary Research Unit in the mid-90s.
Bellamys runs the Parliamentary bar and restaurants and also the official watering hole in 3.2 (level 3, room 2) in the Beehive, Parliament's unique building that houses the Executive of the House, along with the State Ballroom.
3.2 was a regular with staffers and MPs alike, where much gossip and scandal was discovered, and sometimes occurred.
Bolger signed this bottle for me on my departure from Parliament.
In spite of National's opposition, Bolger held a referendum on whether or not New Zealand should change the electoral system from 'first past the post' to one of proportional representation, and in 1992, New Zealanders voted to change to the Mixed Member Proportional, or MMP. This was confirmed in a binding referendum held at the same time as the 1993 general election, which National won.
In 1994, Bolger caused surprise by suggesting that New Zealand should reform its status as a constitutional monarchy and become a republic, as had been suggested in Australia by Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating.
New Zealand had its first election under MMP in 1996, and Bolger became caretaker Prime Minister until a coalition with a majority in Parliament could be formed. Both Bolger and Labour leader Helen Clark sought the support of New Zealand First, which held the balance of power in the new House. Its leader Winston Peters, had left the National Party to form his own party, and opposed many of the free-market reforms implemented by National, and Labour before it.
In December, a coalition was formed between National and New Zealand First, with Peters being controversially appointed to the new post of Treasurer.
Bolger is now Chair of KiwiBank. He still drinks Port.

1 comment:

Sid Walker said...

Mike

What inspired Bolger to push for MMN?

How did it come about, when both major NZ parties had so much to lose? (as they do in Australia, where such a change would give much fairer representation to the minority of voters who want more than a two-horse race).

A summary of how New Zealand got a meticulously representative parliamentary system would be a good read.