McCully serious

Murray McCully still has some potentially serious issues hovering over him with the still running Auditor-General’s investigation into the Saudi sheep deal. ‘Deal’ is one of the more complimentary descriptions that have been made about that. Phil Goff calls it ‘shonky’, others have been more severe.

McCully recently announced that he had made a serious decision – to not stand in the East Coast Bays electorate again next year.

He has also said he will only remain until he is no longer Foreign Minister, so if National lose next year he will leave  Parliament. He is serious about not wanting to be in opposition again.

McCully first stood for Parliament in 1975, forty one years ago, before a number of current MPs were born. He became a member of Parliament in 1987. So if his political career ends next year that will have been thirty years in Parliament.

Claire Trevett reports on an interview with McCully – ‘Black Prince’ to spin the wheel again.

I wasn’t a fan of McCully in his Black Prince days. That sort of thing has been renamed dirty politics.

McCully says health was not an issue in his decision and the doctors had given him the all-clear. “But it would be fair to say it was a wake-up call. And it makes you think about your life and perspective. I do want to do some things when I leave politics, so getting carted out with my boots on didn’t seem like a very attractive option at the time and it doesn’t seem like a very attractive option now.”

Also unattractive to McCully is being in opposition again.

“It’s a long, slow, soul-destroying grind spending nine years in Opposition and if I’d been asked at the outset to sign up for nine years of it I might have made a very different decision.”

So he’s not going there again.

Phil Goff was Foreign Minister during McCully’s dark years in opposition.

Goff was highly critical of McCully’s changes to the ministry and says it is only now starting to recover. “I think he took an organisation that was functioning well and made it dysfunctional.”

He also describes the decision to give an $11 million sheep farm to Saudi Arabian businessman Hamood Al Khalaf as “shonky”.

However, he gives McCully credit for hard work and for bringing home the campaign to get New Zealand on the Security Council, a campaign Labour started in the 2000s.

McCully’s political career seems to have begun an easing out. One of the first steps in that is easing someone else into his electorate.

He says he simply wanted to allow time for a new candidate in East Coast Bays to get established. McCully won the seat by 15,000 votes in 2014 but says that does not mean it is “safe.”

“I wouldn’t want to be in the position where after 30 years of being the local MP my legacy was to see the seat lost by my successor.”

He says he will stand on National’s list next year. A National election failure will decide his fate.

Otherwise I think he is likely to ease himself out of the Foreign Minister role, and probably out of Parliament, a year or two later.


Leave a comment


  1. Why even stand on the list… just go.

    McCully is past his use by date. Announcing early and get a candidate prepped for contesting ECB in 2017 is good. But why stay on the List. Just go damn it

    • Maybe he will still do that. It will be much easier for him to ease himself out of list contention next year if he has already dealt with his electorate retirement.

      It may depend on what National’s re-election prospects look like closer to the election. But he may want to avoid being accused of jumping from a sinking ship.

      Or after thirty years on board he may just need time to make all his decisions.

      • Pete in all seriousness. He has caused chaos in MFAT – all the leaks round re-org and the Saudi Deal. he should just do a “I’m leaving” announcement, a valedictory before the GE and just go.

        This I will go on the list thing is just BS….he needs to go and take his problems with him

        • Pete Kane

           /  28th February 2016

          Hi Dave and Pete. Well one thing we’ve learnt and that is David Parker is no Chris Christie – just simply not a natural prosecuter. As an aside I’ll be interested to see how the media cover the Saudi deal given Murray’s health. What’s the publics anger level in this? The opposition would need a better angle to raise this. I know ‘on paper’ this is deep danger but even I failed the absolute outrage test. Probably that’s shame on me and too many years working in the developing world.

          Wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he lets ECB go to a by-election. Mind you some interesting history there.

          • I think the Sheep Deal has died a death to be frank. I looked at and thought “shouldn’t be doing that”, but then thought “that’s how business is done in large swathes of the world”.

            Labour cocked up the persecution/prosecution of it last year – why let it go to an Enquiry just before Xmas? Stupid. As soon as it got the Enquiry treatment it fizzled out in the publics mind…

            Can’t see a by-election just a slow hand over to the new candidate and then a bowing out of politics on the front line in the last session of parliament before the 2017 election. By-election are dangerous beasts especially close to a GE, you never know what could happen.

            • Pete Kane

               /  28th February 2016

              Dave 24: “By-election are dangerous beasts especially close to a GE, you never know what could happen.”

              Yep. And I think that is high on Labour’s mind re Mt Roskill. (as well as succession. should Little stand there etc etc).

    • artcroft

       /  28th February 2016

      He won’t get Foreign Affairs again, that’s a plum role and if the Nats need Winstone it would go to him. McCully states opposition is “soul destroying”. I get the feeling Mallard, King, O’Connor etc.. quite enjoy it. All play no responsibility.

      • Politics as we know it is “soul destroying” artcroft.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  28th February 2016

          Absolutely, PZ. When you look at it rationally, who on earth would want to be a politician? Ridiculously long hours, away from home, almost certain to destroy your personal relationships and requiring endless travel. Huge amounts of time spent with people who hate and want to destroy you listening to incredibly boring axe-grinding from people with blatant agendas. Having to be nice to journalists who are just looking for an attack angle and a way to misrepresent and ridicule you in a context where you can’t defend yourself. Having to consider every word and phrase you speak for how it might look taken out of context and used to attack you. Knowing they only want to talk to you when they see an opportunity to embarrass you or need a video clip to hang an attack on. Automatically being hated by half the population.

          Why would you do it?

          • Klik Bate

             /  28th February 2016

            Obviously Donald Trump had a lot to consider. But opted to go with it anyway 🙂

            • @ Klik Bate – comment of the day!!! 😉

              @ Alan – I could not have presented a better argument for widespread reform of the very processes of (so-called) democracy had I taken several volumes to do so. Thank you. The ancient ‘Institution’ looks especially odd this Altheist “Positive Reframing Day”? A PR test indeed. I suppose one might say, “As it was overwhelmed my new technology, which pointed to a truer ‘democracy’, thank goodness Neo-Feudal Patriarchal Western Quasi-Christian Westminster Parliament clearly demonstrated its own grotesque failings”?

              @ ALL – “McCully Serious” …. Oh dear. Is he expected to recover?

  2. Is Bill English so determined to put his oar into Auckland and tell them what they should do that he will stand as East Coast Bays MP? Or after so bravely making threats about sorting Aucklanders out that he will stand for Mt Roskill?

  3. Nelly Smickers

     /  28th February 2016

    Gosh, he’s been around for ages!

    I vaguely remember hearing his name when I was just a little kid in Wellington, didn’t he start the McCullygiddy Serious Party ?


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