GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Collins and Muldoon


I’ve seen a couple of recent political commentaries comparing National’s new leader Judith Collins to the late former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon who dominated New Zealand politics from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s.

Certainly the little bit of the first exchange in the house I caught between Collins and P.M. Ardern invites the comparison in the pugnacious political style the new Opposition Leader is projecting.

There is also more than an element of the “Think Big “ project of the Muldoon era in Collins’ plan to bypass the Resource Management Act for huge infrastructure projects such as the proposed four-lane highway from Whangarei to Tauranga and a second Auckland harbour crossing.

The idea that you just bulldoze any legislation designed to protect our environment out of the way in the name “progress” is very Muldoon at his draconian worst.

Most Acts of Parliament require review from time to time and the RMA is no exception . Moreover, in my view, Transport is certainly one of those areas where Labour is weakest and therefore most vulnerable to attack from the Right.

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It does seem to me however, as we watch the issue of traffic congestion especially in Auckland and Wellington being debated in the run up to the election, that we need to think about whether more cars on our roads (be they petrol driven or electric) is really such a great idea. Or whether a radical rethink about how we get from A to B – eg. completely free, highly efficient bus, light rail and train services – is in order

As for Muldoon. I interviewed him on two occasions. He was a highly divisive politician who rolled the job of Finance Minister into that of the Prime Minister and became drunk on power. I didn’t like him.

But, he was something Judith Collins and her current National Party colleagues are not. He was anti-neoliberal.

He rejected Treasury’s advice to follow the economic path of self-centeredness being advocated by Britain’s then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Republican President Ronald Regan. He was still too much of a socialist to agree to it.

Ironically Treasury had no such difficulty encouraging the 4th Labour government to adopt the economics of individualism that has led to the huge gap between the rich and the poor that has opened up in our country over the last 36 years.

There’s much to think about this election. What kind of New Zealand do we want and what kind of leadership do we want to help us attain it?

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Absolutely right. At least Muldoon thought he was doing the best for NZ. In whose interests are Collins and the present bunch of Nats acting?

  2. He was an ugly SOB who committed one of the worst acts of economic treachery in our history when he axed Norm Kirks super scheme but he drove himself to parliament in his Cortina each day.

    • 100% agreed. But Muldoon was using the CIA authored and supported election campaign with dancing cossacks and smearing Labour as communist. How stupid Kiwis are / were to respond to such absolute USA generated drivel.

      Currently we have sex related scandals in the house.
      Muldoon had regular “liaisons” with women in Thordon and his chauffeurs would wait outside. After Piggy’s death one of the drivers came forward and confirmed what was a well known dalliance in Piggy’s weekly routine.
      Think Big was not well tolerated by the banksters and international investors cabal. Think Big needed to be taken further with greater Govt intervention and support. Some cross party collusion would have been more than helpful but the swine douglarse was waiting i the wings to further the edicts of the Mount Pelerin Society, They succeeded and douglarse and tribe became very rich overnight. So Piggy was used to get rid of a brilliant superannuation scheme then he was disposed of to make way for the massive neoliberal shift in NZ that led the world in the defiance of common sense. The NZ public were conned twice in 3 years by off shore PR and campaign management.
      Hidden in Lange’s Labour were moles who with the collusion of others in Treasury wrecked many communities in NZ closing post Offices, bringing in “user pays” bullshit and stripping out many facets of Govt for the good of Kiwis and replacing that with a bonanza for the wealthy investors

  3. Well said Bryan;
    Robert muldoon was not a neo-liberal and more was like a socialistic man for sure.

    he protected our NZ Rail public system as well as al other public assets.

    he always referred to us as “the ordinary Bloke” we recall all the time.

    Judith Collins is just “an agent for foreign interests to buy everything that is left of our assets- and this was the difference between Robert Muldoon and Judith Collins.

    • cleangreen – Yep; I know little about Muldoon, but believe that he was concerned for New Zealanders. Collin’s current attempt to shaft Labour by resurrecting an apparent dead cat, smacks of extreme desperation, and gives credence to suggestions that this is not the country wherein her loyalties lie. Hungry woman. Or thirsty.

  4. Re: your remark about cars on the road.
    Automated cars (and invariably taxi’s) mean that we will have 80-90% DROP in car ownership and cars on the road within 7-8 years IF politicians ‘get out of the way’.
    Today automated cars are about 10 times safer than human drivers. i.e. there are ten times less accidents. And automation improves at about 20% p.a depending on how you define improve.
    The ONLY reason automation isn’t allowed on our roads is PURE CORRUPTION.
    In countries like the USA and Europe they have a political problem that such a HUGE drop in the present dinosaur car industry is a political nightmare and the REAL POWERS pulling the string of Govt, DO NOT want automation. Think of the horse industry when cars came along, the gas industry when electricity came along etc.
    Now NZ has no car industry to speak of so we’re a perfect country (like Singapore) to allow driverless cars/taxis.
    Once they get going, invariably NO ONE will buy another car after their present car needs replacing, except those say that still say own horses for fun and a hobby.
    A car is used on average about 6% of the time and about a quarter of it’s use is supposedly finding parking spaces. Automated cars (Electric is a no brainer !) will work more like 90% of the time. So there will be SIGNIFANT less simultaneous road use. And travel will be about 90% cheaper than it is today.
    SO WHY spend all that money on POINBTLESS roads that could be way better used, else where repairing all the damage TraitorKey etc did to NZ.
    Just legalize the infinitely safer electric automated cars/taxis and with a few years our grid lock will be resolved and we’ll be more like Norway; exporting our oil and importing so little that we can use the monies from our oil for better use than warring up the atmosphere burning fossil fuel in cars.
    Will some non prostitute press please raise this obvious point to the corrupt NACT.

    • If the electric grid were not doomed to collapse, and

      if roads were not primarily geared to the transport of heavy commercial loads (for which there are no viable electric options because the energy required is enormous versus a small passenger vehicle, and

      if the globalised economic system were not on its last legs (meaning manufacturers won;lt be around much longer, and

      if the materials necessary to maintain asphalt-sealed roads were not imported via the globalised oil economy, and

      if automated electric cars didn’t crash with almost-boring regularity, and

      if there were some purpose to people travelling beyond their immediate neighbourhood, and

      if the global food supply were not in terminal decline, and

      if the resources required to construct and maintain electric cars were not considerable greater than those required for the construction and maintenance of petrol-driven cards, and

      if the planet were not undergoing rapid environmental meltdown, and

      if the global economy were not undergoing rapid energetic and consumer-deficit meltdown..

      your enthusiasm for electric cars MIGHT have some merit.

      However, as NONE of the preconditions apply, electric cars will be yet another short-term fad at the end of the industrial age.

      Electric cars had their ‘moment in the sun’ just over 100 years ago, when there were more electric cars than petrol-driven. Like canals, they’ve had their day, and there would be just as much logic in promoting the construction of canals and barges and towpaths. Actually, more if it were not for the dire effects of planetary meltdown, which is causing ever more extreme droughts and innundations.

      The dams that China built for its ‘Brave New World’ of electric cars and the like are already collapsing -the worst is yet to come.

      ‘Dam collapse in China could point to a ‘black swan’ disaster’

      ‘Located in Yangshuo county, famed for its otherworldly karst landscape, the dam collapsed at around midday on June 7, inundating roads, orchards and fields in Shazixi village, residents told Reuters.

      “I’ve never seen such flooding,” said villager Luo Qiyuan, 81, who helped build the dam decades ago.

      “The water levels were never so high in previous years, and the dam had never collapsed.”

      The bad news is [if you are a technophile], the inundation if China is just the beginning…more heavy rain on the way.

      If you are a technophobe and want life to continue on this planet beyond a decade or two , what we are witnessing [of the collapse of industrial civilisation] is the best thing since sliced bread.

      It might be a good time to start getting into the real world and start ‘smelling the roses’ before they too disappear. Because in the permaculture world of low energy availability we are rapidly being thrust into, roses don’t fit the bill.

    • Absolutely right, Kevin Brown.What you fail to mention but follows automatically from your comments is that automated cars will not be owned by individuals. They will be rented as needed, like electric scooters so all such cars, and indeed all transport shall be state owned and built (after all there are only about 20 parts to such a car so manufacture is pretty straight forwardand there will be tremendous economies of scale). THe next petrol driven car that readers buy will be their last

  5. “we”… it’s as great a weasel word as “ethnic” (i.e. ‘not white’) and “community” (i.e. ‘people’)… are you a thought leader, a change maker? The Orwellian moment is NOW…

    • Castro do you mean this?

      Life now like an Orwellian nightmare – Daly

      April 18 2020 12:00 AM

      There is now a widespread awareness that things cannot go back to normal because normal is part of the problem, said Clare Daly MEP, when she addressed Sligo’s Easter 1916 Commemoration ceremony online on Easter Sunday.
      The ceremony, which was held under the auspices of People First and Independents4Change, traditionally took place at the Republican Plot in Sligo cemetery on Easter Sunday. However, this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held online.
      Ms Daly, who was introduced by Cllr Declan Bree, said it was an absolute privilege to participate in a very unique 1916 commemoration.
      “A commemoration against the backdrop of the world in lockdown, billions of people in isolation in their homes, tens of thousands dead, millions losing their jobs, the army on the streets in parts of Europe, mobile phones being used to track peoples movements in the interest of public health, airlines grounded, and all in the space of a couple of weeks.
      “It’s like an Orwellian nightmare. But we’re not reading it, we are actually living it.
      “There is now a widespread awareness that things cannot go back to normal because normal is part of the problem.
      “So we, who gather here in respect, for the men and women of 1916, have to seize this moment with the same determination and courage, that they showed, that Easter 104 years ago today.
      “We have seen measures taken in the last few weeks that the powers that be have repeatedly told us could never be done. Emergency payments to all workers, rent and mortgage freezes, eviction outlawed, bailouts for small businesses.

  6. Towards the end of his contentious and nationally disastrous time in office Rob Muldoon, along with his criminal partner Bill Birch, promoted a set of projects that crippled any prospects for long-term sustainability, and got the nation so indebted to international money-lenders that a currency crisis and rampant inflation (devaluation of money in our pockets and bank accounts) characterised life in NZ for several years after.

    I remember it well. The 11% mortgage rate that went to 12%. And then to 14%, 16%, 18%, 20% 22%! Outgoings on mortgages per month doubled. And to cap it all off, shortly after the ‘Labour’ government devalued the currency and sold off the farm, supposedly to stablise the economy, but in reality to fill the back pockets of the next gang of thieves; and then the crash of ’87 wiped out a large portion of the notional wealth that had been created by speculation and shady deals.

    Such was the level of sabotage of NZ over that period [1979 to 1989] if there were such a things as heaven and hell, we could be certain where those bastards ended up.

    Not only did Muldoon and co. promote chemically inefficient processes that squandered the useable energy of a large portion OUR gas reserve (looting and polluting the commons), but they promoted planetary meltdown (yes we knew about the long-term effect of rising atmospheric CO2 in the 1970s). All that long-term economic and environmental stupidity was implemented to facilitate some form of short-term business-as-usual when it was clear already clear that BAU was the problem.

    So here we are, decades later, living in a post-peak-oil world (held together by very anti-environmental practices of fracking and tar sands extraction which are in the process of going belly-up), undergoing environmental meltdown (not just in the literal sense of rapid overheating but also in the biological sense), with the dire effects of the financial scams that were set up and operated through the 1990s and 2000s manifesting in all the ways we expected (overpriced houses, overvalued shares, historically low interest rates, never-ending Quantitative Easy -to prop up the share markets etc.)

    ‘There is also more than an element of the “Think Big “ project of the Muldoon era in Collins’ plan to bypass the Resource Management Act for huge infrastructure projects such as the proposed four-lane highway from Whangarei to Tauranga and a second Auckland harbour crossing.’

    Pardon my language, but Judith Collins and the National Party in general are fuckin’ loopy, mad as hatters, completely off the planet, and should be charged with criminal conspiracy to defraud [the people of NZ] -boondoggles and The Easter Island economy* notwithstanding.

    Fortunately for National, under the current regime of widespread global corporate mendacity and fraud

    -with back-handers and bribery the norm rather than the exception, and with most of the corporate propaganda systems still functioning to some extent, National can probably get away with misleading the public yet again (though arguably for the very last time, as the shit hits the fan big time for the globalised financial and energy sectors over the coming months).

    For me, the interesting question is whether I will be driving the car that I use occasionally AT ALL from 2022 on. Probably not.

    *Easter Island economy: expend the last of precious resources building statues to please the gods and the ancestors, and then suffer starvation and internecine warfare that lead to a massive population decline.

    • Yes I can just see automation working where i live. gravel roads and no cell phone cover due to the geography.i.e the satellites can’t find you . This kind of topography is common throughout NZ. Automation like 5g si just another totalitarian/big brother wank.

    • Corporate backhanders have run the show for many decades. Dirty politics is not new and neither is blackmail.
      Dirt collection on politicians is an undercurrent industry and the much is sold to the highest bidder.
      This goes all the way down to local councils. Yes I have evidence from those I know who have been made to comply with silence or given promises of gifts for their vote.

    • Yes Afewknowthetruth
      I recall when my wife worked for ANZ and during the crazy 1983-4 era the banks raised their interest rates to 18-22% percent and Rob Muldoon charged into the media blaming banks for corruption and ordered them into his office to lower the interest on money or he would do it.

      I have never seen any other politician do that since. I didn’t like Bill Birch either but Sir Robert Muldoon we thought was ‘straight up’ with everything he thought and said.

  7. It would have been a brave person who dared to call Muldoon a socialist to his face.
    I don’t think Muldoon was a socialist, he wasn’t really interested in income distribution.
    He was a traditionalist interested in keeping tight control of the economy.
    That may look socialist from our perspective nearly 50 years later but was really just the norm then.

  8. Yep, – like him or not Muldoon was the last ‘socialist’ and ‘Keynesian PM / Finance Ministers ‘ we had. And that’s where Collins and Muldoon part company.

  9. @ BB. To argue that muldoon was a ‘socialist’ devalues your political opinions, in my view.
    And you may know? What’s the story behind him photographed scurrying across the tarmac of an airport here with a brief case clamped under his flabby little arm having just arrived back from Switzerland? The image was in a book of NZPA photographs I spotted 12 or so years ago? What was a greedy, arrogant little accountant and our prime minister to boot doing in Switzerland? Wasn’t he known for having a numbered bank account there?
    Isn’t it suspicious, that a second rate accountant, third rate politician and fourth rate human being had a numbered Swiss bank account while being our Prime Minister?
    Particularly given the fact that not long after that, the foreign banksters ate us alive?
    He was a greedy, narcissistic little bully who’d had far too many pats on the head and not enough kicks up the arse. Setting that creature loose on AO/NZ was, in fact, the very dawn of neoliberalism. He was the Machiavellian spark that ignited the neoliberal fire storm that burned AO/NZ to the ground. And, if my suspicions of how the Universe works are correct, he’s still hideous somewhere out there, or through there.
    Like all abusive scum, his legacy just keeps giving.
    As for collins? Lets just be careful of how much oxygen we give it. Lets just let it burn out and fade away….
    To simply speak it’s name keeps its name alive in our minds and all advertising is good advertising, remember?
    Oh? By the way? One more thing…

    • Muldoon during the mid- late 1960’s was told by Holyoake I think it was, to arrange loans from the IMF that were to be paid back at a set time and year. Muldoon objected strongly to that ( and the terms ) at the time because he could foresee the massive damage it would do the NZ public.

      His grandmother apparently , was a fierce socialist, and although Muldoon didn’t agree with all of it, it seemed he inherited much of his beliefs from her, – though modified. Muldoon believed in the welfare state and Keynes economic principles, ( which was common in that generation after WW2 ) which was a general consensus between both major party’s at the time.

      This could be where the photo of Muldoon comes in, – he knew the time and saw the writing on the wall, that the terms of those loans from the IMF had come to full fruition, there was not much he could do about it and was securing his personal finances…

      LET US NEVER FORGET that it was none other than Bob Jones who deliberately set up the NZ party to topple Muldoons ( and thus NZ’S Keynesian system), – and to which afterwards was to be disbanded in a cynical fashion to usher in the new era of free market neo liberalism under the Mont Pelerin ( and backed by the then called Business Roundtable – now calling themselves the NZ Initiative ) plants , – Roger Douglas and under National , Ruth Richardson.

      These two individuals ( Douglas and Richardson ) were sitting board members of the London based Mont Pelerin society.

      The whole idea and sole motive of Bob Jones political party was to split Nationals vote with another pro business ‘conservative’ ( in reality extreme right wing ) party and to enable Labour , – and thus Roger Douglas, – to carry out the neo liberal agenda.

      The rest is history.

      For those unfamiliar with NZ’s recent political and economical history , here is further reading to see the impacts of these changes.

      New Right Fight – New Zealand. Against the political New Right.

  10. Oh well it was inevitable that the natz supporting media (ie all Aotearoa corporate media) would try to paint the Collins creep as Piggy Muldoon redux, but saying so doesn’t make it so.

    I have no doubt that a 2020 Muldoon would be barracking for more privatisations & sucking amerikan corporate cocks, still, there are notable differences in the way the pig operated compared to creepy Collins.

    Piggy was better at reading the public mood, 1970’s pig was a supporter of state ownership of national assets because that was exactly how the ww2 diggers wanted Aotearoa.

    Yep they were smart on that, but lets not forget when the Pig tried to assert Colin Moyle was a pork ‘n bean, or to set up Uncle Joe Walding with a tranny, those same old diggers thought that was perfectly fine.

    Why did the pig try to set up Walding when the smart move would have been to point out Joe had set up a company which copped an earner from every pound of lamb Aotearoa sold to the USSR in the deal Walding had negotiated with the soviets as a minister of the crown?

    Duh! cos the Natz had just as many skeletons in that closet. So no, I don’t reckon the pig was straight either.

    However the mood has changed & it is unlikely creepy Collins will be able to keep Oravida under the rug once the election campaign kicks off.

    Little about that, other than the non-existent exoneration will find its way into the fishwraps but as we all know, the media isn’t our sole information vector any longer.

    If the Labour Party has its tech & social networking act together (which is disgustingly, a big if), Creepy’s Chinese dinner party will make it back into contemporaneous gossip.

    But Orivida is small spuds in comparison to where labour should be landing blows.
    No one is asking the big question: “Why is Creepy Collins bigging roading so much this election?” or even better, ” If Collins is truly concerned about congestion why is Natz policy so anti-public transport?”

    No one is pointing out that the natz have been in the road transport lobby’s back pocket for decades. Follow the money (campaign donations) and make the link between trucking, car industry and energy corporations’ donations to the natz and their stupid “bigger roads for more cars” policies.
    People hate congestion, but they also hate global warming & political corruption.

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