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Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton Dies

Former Prime Minister, Jim Anderton, NZOM.

Former New Zealand deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Alliance, New Labour, and the Progressive Party, Jim Anderton Died at around 8am on January 7 at Nazareth House, a rest home and hospice in Sydenham Christchurch.

Jim Anderton had been ill for much of 2017 and was receiving palliative care. He was born on 21 January 1938 in Auckland.

He began work as a teacher, then as a child welfare officer, a secretary for the Catholic diocese in Auckland, then moved into business as an export manager, and established his company Anderton Holdings Ltd.

He was elected as a Manukau City councillor in 1965, was beaten by 7000 votes when he challenged Dove Meyer Robinson for the Auckland mayoralty in 1974.

In 1977, Jim Anderton began his move to significance within the Labour Party. He became Labour Party president in 1979. In 1984, he campaigned, won, and became an Member of Parliament for Sydenham in Christchurch. He became Labour’s most outspoken critic of the economic agenda of former Labour finance minister Roger Douglas and those ardent engineers of New Zealand’s radical neoliberal economic dogma.

In 1989 he was suspended from the Labour Party caucus after refusing to vote in favour of selling off the Bank of New Zealand. He soon resigned from the party and formed New Labour, campaigned in the 1990 General Election and was reelected as the MP for Sydenham under the New Labour party’s policies of full employment, no state asset sales, and an interventionist economic platform.

In 1991, the Alliance was formed around the New Labour party pulling together a cluster of small political parties that had no real show of parliamentary representation under the First Passed the Post electoral system.

He became leader of the Alliance in 1993, stood down briefly in 1994, returned as its leader in 1995, and won 13 seats in the new Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) elected Parliament in 1996.

In 1999, Labour and the Alliance agreed to form a coalition government led by the new Prime Minister Helen Clark. Jim Anderton became deputy Prime Minister.

The coalition became unstable near the end of the three year term, largely due to New Zealand’s involvement in the US-led war on terrorism and the bombing of Afghanistan. The instability was driven by the Alliance’s party administrative element.

Anderton, Matt Robson (the Alliance’s deputy leader, and Minister of Corrections and Associate Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 1999-2002 Clark Government) formed the Progressive Party, campaigned in the 2002 General Election and were reelected to Parliament.

Anderton became Minister for Regional Development in the 2002-05 term. In 2005, Anderton was reelected as the sole Progressive MP and was sworn in as minister for a host of portfolios, including: Agriculture, Biosecurity, Fisheries, Forestry, Public Trust, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister for Tertiary Education.

He was reelected in 2008 and remained in coalition with Labour in opposition.

In 2010 Jim Anderton campaigned for the Christchurch mayoralty but was unsuccessful in his bid. He retired from Parliament in 2011.

In the 2017 Queens Birthday Honours, Jim Anderton was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Parliament.

On his passing, Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear of the passing of Jim Anderton today. He was a man of huge integrity, strong values and had a genuine passion for people. He dedicated so much of his life to public service and leaves a huge legacy. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP, Jim.”

MIL Analysis+Reportage – EveningReport.NZ