Palmer: The parliamentary years
234 x 153 mm, 12pp B&W photos
This is a fascinating warts-and-all account of the political career of one of New Zealand’s brightest sons.
The son of a crusading newspaper editor, the young Geoffrey Palmer was a serious and purposeful child who latched onto the idea of being a lawyer when it was put to him by his well-read mother. He absorbed progressive ideas at the University of Chicago law school and planned to use legal means to effect social reform when he entered parliament in 1979.
In 1984 Palmer became deputy prime minister in the radical fourth Labour government, where his organisational and diplomatic skills were the perfect foil for David Lange’s disordered brilliance.
Through hard work and high intelligence, he compiled a record of reform unmatched in this country’s history, concerning parliamentary procedures, the voting system, the environment, longstanding Maori grievances, the Bill of Rights, economic reform and many other matters, big and small. He also shaped the legislative programme of the most reforming government in New Zealand’s history.
After five turbulent years Lange resigned, and Palmer became New Zealand’s 33rd prime minister. His government made major and controversial decisions, but Palmer stepped down after only 13 months, following a challenge from within the party.
Written for a wide audience, Palmer: The parliamentary years is the product of research involving more than 200 linear metres of archives, as well as interviews with Palmer, his family and associates, some now deceased.
‘… an indispensable account of "the lawmaker" who was arguably New Zealand’s best ever deputy prime minister.’ Listener
‘… an important text for those interested in New Zealand politics.’ Dominion Post
Raymond Richards was born in Hamilton, New Zealand. He gained a BA (Hons) from the University of Waikato before heading to the US to study for an MA in Historical Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.He completed his PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1989. In 1994 Penn State Press published his book Closing the Door to Destitution: The shaping of the Social Security Acts of the United States and New Zealand, which was nominated for five awards. Dr Richards is now a senior lecturer in History at the University of Waikato.