9th Floor – Jenny Shipley

The next interview in the RNZ ‘9th Floor’ series features Jenny Shipley.


The 9th Floor: Jenny Shipley – The Challenger

By Guyon Espiner

Jenny Shipley evoked strong responses from New Zealanders during her time in politics and I suspect that, with her new comments about “middle class welfare” and working with Winston Peters, she is about to do so again.

But while people respond strongly to Shipley, there has been very little examination of her leadership. Researching the interview for The 9th Floor series, Tim Watkin and I found there were few books and very little academic study of this hugely influential New Zealand politician.

During the day we spent with Shipley she said New Zealand needs to take the “blowtorch” to middle class welfare, with student allowances and healthcare areas where middle and higher income earners should pay more. She finds it “morally bankrupt” that the country doesn’t have an honest discussion about this and that she personally feels “sick” that on her income she can’t opt out of subsidised health care.

She also has some fascinating observations about working with Winston Peters, who may again be a key coalition player after the coming election.

“Winston could have been Prime Minister but for want of himself. His complexity often got ahead of his capability. Watching him on a good day he was brilliant,” she says. “He was an 85 percent outstanding leader. And the 15 percent absolutely crippled him because he would get so myopically preoccupied with a diversion that it took away his capability and intent on the main goal.”

Shipley also says that Peters, Deputy Prime Minister from 1996 to 1998, was excellent at absorbing information but sometimes simply hadn’t done the reading. “I would make a personal judgement as he came into my office as to whether the envelope with the papers in it was either open or closed and it often would tell me the extent to which he had read what we were then going to discuss. I learned to both respect and manage it and on those days the meetings were short.”

Perhaps more than any other leader we spoke to she lets us in on the influences, conflicts and complexities of being Prime Minister. There are two striking aspects to this. The influence and impact on her family is one, and includes a harrowing story of how death threats against her affected her young son. The other is being a woman at the top of politics. Would history have treated Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson differently if they were men?

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19 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  28th April 2017

    Shipleys record outside of politics in the corporate world ,mirrors her work in politics.Opportunistic,smooth operator,with ambition and versatility.Thats being….kind.

    Reply
  2. pdm

     /  28th April 2017

    As far as Peters is concerned Lange summed him up best in his valedictory speech with this:

    `Winston would have been here but he got delayed by a full length mirror’.

    The above may not be word for word but I am sure readers get the message andit summs Peters up perfectly – Winston First!!

    Reply
  3. pdm

     /  28th April 2017

    bugger – no edit option to correct typos.

    Reply
  4. It’s a shame Shipley has been judged so cruelly. Her fault for the way she entered politics, and as much a one can claim conduit status, her PM status was never going to play out well. Neither the roll Bolger, nor the economic measures (perceived draconianism) taken reflected well on her legacy. People wanted Rogernomics ruled back, not put on steroids. In the main, she was a woman and at the time that was unacceptable.

    She is bang on about middle class welfare. The more government we have in our live the more people’s self determination and freedoms are eroded. I do not consider a few extra bucks on the table per week, care of your neighbour’s taxes to be liberating for either party.

    Reply
    • “rolled” not “ruled”

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  28th April 2017

      ‘In the main, she was a woman and at the time that was unacceptable. ‘…..you being mischievous or just plain …dumb…Helen Clark was a contemporary of…all Shipley shape…and Bristol…fashion.

      Reply
  5. All very well and good, and easy, for Jenny Shipley to say she’d opt out of subsidized health care … but how many wealthy people would actually do it?

    That’s the sort of thing an online voting or poll-feedback connections to parliament or other systems of large cohort polling might tell us …

    Or, if they believe in it, the Centre-Centre-Right could just impose it upon the wealthy …?

    Reply
    • The country has one associative experience of this … the Super Surcharge …

      How did those who could afford it, middle-class & rich folks react to that?

      I guess if she wants to opt out of using subsidized social services, she also wants to opt out of paying tax for them …?

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  28th April 2017

    She is bang on about middle class welfare all right. There should be an official inquiry into middle class welfare. Jenny Shipley would be the ideal person to chair it. At $2000 a day.😊

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  28th April 2017

      You have to love the gravy train, DZ. From deadbeat Maoris to Greedy White Folk, if you are lucky enough to get a ticket….you can ride the taxpayer from here to eternity.

      I remember a travel documentary where Shipley was in the wop wops talking to some natives. They couldn’t get their heads around the fact she was once ‘the boss’ of a country. They asked if she was still the boss. No, she replied. The people got sick of me and kicked me out. Hmmmm, how lucky is she. How lucky are we that’s possible without bloodshed.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  28th April 2017

        we must be very lucky…I have heard that some U.S presidents have not enjoyed the same…luck!America is not the wop wops is it?

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  28th April 2017

          No, but your skewered thinking is.

          Reply
        • Good old Obama. Selling out his principles to Wall Street and signing up to a $400,000 speech. Nice if you can get it and more than he earned in a year as President.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  28th April 2017

            what principles?

            Reply
          • Corky

             /  28th April 2017

            But…but, that’s greed. Oh,no its not because he’s a liberal. That is wealth redistribution.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  28th April 2017

              His & Michelle’s $65m book deal should see them through a couple of harsh Winters somewhere warm.

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