June/July 2020

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I was fortunate to have once had the pleasure of working for the late Mike Moore in the latter period of his term as director general of the World Trade Organisation.

Mike was old-school Labour. He left school young, took up an apprenticeship, became involved in union politics, and by 23 was the youngest MP ever elected to Parliament. He suffered a number of severe illnesses in his life, but soldiered on. He put his hand up to serve briefly as prime minister before the 1990 election won by National.

David Porter, Editor

He eventually won a term at the WTO, which suited his considerable talents and expertise. Mike was undoubtedly one of the brightest people I have ever known, with a near photographic memory and a great generosity and capacity for kindness.

And though he had what his staff sometimes found to be an excess of unique ideas – not all of which could be followed through at the speed he preferred – he was an original and inspiring thinker and deeply knowledgeable on trade matters.

He eventually served very capably as ambassador to the US until he was cruelly felled by the stroke that ended his career and led to his untimely death this year at the age of 71. He was basically one of the good guys, who I had the greatest respect for and found to be a fair and caring man. May he rest in peace.

The current turmoil, and the recent toppling as opposition leader of Simon Bridges by his fellow Bay politician Todd Muller, again brought to mind that Mike was a big supporter of the “loyal opposition”.

The concept lies at the heart of the British parliamentary system we have inherited. Basically parties in power should be regularly subjected by the opposition to transparent inquisitorial scrutiny. But they should also be generally supported by their new opposition when positions are exchanged. The ultimate loyalty is to the betterment of the country, not the individual party.

Those whose ideas were deemed worthy by the public could expect to eventually get a shot at power without the need for a violent overthrow of government, as seen in some countries that lack a fair electoral system. We are already starting to see signs of global unrest as tensions rise. We are fortunate to live where we do.

– David Porter

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