WikiLeaks cable: A bio of new PM Jenny Shipley

This is one of the diplomatic cables about New Zealand held by Wikileaks.

December 22, 1997
Information about new NZ Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and her background
.

SUBJECT: BIO REPORT: NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JENNY SHIPLEY

REF: (A) WELLINGTON 1498; (B) WELLINGTON 1492


1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY: JOSIAH H. BEEMAN, AMBASSADOR.
REASONS: 1.5(B) AND (D).

2. (C) SUMMARY: NZ'S NEW (AND FIRST WOMAN) PRIME MINISTER JENNY
SHIPLEY IS AN ASTUTE POLITICIAN WHO BELIEVES IN LESS GOVERNMENT,
INDIVIDUAL EMPOWERMENT, AND A "SOFT HEART AND A HARD HEAD." SHE
TAKES A MEASURED AND CONSULTATIVE APPROACH TO NEW ISSUES, BUT IS
NOT AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS WHEN SHE FEELS CONDITIONS MERIT ACTION.
A COMPLICATED PREGNANCY SPURRED SHIPLEY TO LEAVE THE FARM AND
BEGIN A CAREER IN POLITICS IN 1978. ENTERING PARLIAMENT IN 1987,
SHE BEGAN A FAST RISE -- APPOINTED TO HER FIRST SHADOW CABINET
POSITION ONLY SEVENTEEN MONTHS LATER. ONCE IN GOVERNMENT IN
1990, SHIPLEY INTRODUCED SWEEPING REFORMS IN SOCIAL WELFARE AND
HEALTH WHILE MASTERING THESE TWO DIFFICULT MINISTERIAL
PORTFOLIOS. THE REFORMS EARNED HER THE PUBLIC'S WRATH, BUT ALSO
THE RESPECT OF HER PARLIAMENTARY COLLEAGUES.

HER SUCCESSFUL
CHALLENGE TO BOLGER'S LEADERSHIP OF THE NATIONAL PARTY -- WELL-
PLANNED, WELL-RESEARCHED, AND WELL-EXECUTED -- REFLECTS HER
POLITICAL CAREER TO DATE. A HARD-WORKING POLITICIAN, RUTHLESS OR
PRAGMATIC AS NEEDED, SHIPLEY IS WELL-DISPOSED TOWARD THE U.S.
END SUMMARY.

-----------------
PARSON'S DAUGHTER
-----------------
3. (C) JENNIFER MARY ROBSON WAS BORN FEBRUARY 4, 1952, IN GORE,
ON NEW ZEALAND'S SOUTH ISLAND. SHE WAS THE SECOND OF FOUR
DAUGHTERS BORN TO A PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HIS WIFE. THE
FAMILY LIVED IN GORE AND THEN IN WELLINGTON FOR FIVE YEARS AFTER
SHIPLEY'S BIRTH UNTIL THEY SETTLED IN BLENHEIM (NEAR THE NORTH
COAST OF THE SOUTH ISLAND), WHERE SHE SPENT THE BALANCE OF HER
CHILDHOOD. THE FAMILY WAS NOT WEALTHY AND HAD SOME DIFFICULTY
MAKING ENDS MEET.

4. (C) SHIPLEY STATES THAT HER CORE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY ("A
SOFT HEART AND A HARD HEAD") WAS FORMULATED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD,
WATCHING HER FATHER TEND TO HIS CONGREGATION. HIS APPROACH, SHE
SAYS, WAS TO LEND A SYMPATHETIC EAR WHILE SHOWING PEOPLE HOW TO
EMPOWER THEMSELVES; AND TO FOCUS ON THE CAUSE OF PROBLEMS, NOT
THEIR SYMPTOMS.

5. (C) SHIPLEY GREW INTO A TOMBOY AND A CHAMPIONSHIP SWIMMER
(SHE TOOK UP SWIMMING TO HELP COMBAT CHILDHOOD ASTHMA). AN
UNDISTINGUISHED STUDENT (SHE BLAMES HER BAD GRADES ON HER LOVE
FOR SWIMMING), SHE BARELY PASSED HER HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAM AND
FAILED HER UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAM. (COMMENT: SHIPLEY'S POOR
ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND FAILURE TO PASS HER UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE
EXAM PROBABLY INDICATED A LACK OF AMBITION RATHER THAN ABILITY
AND A REALIZATION THAT, AT THE TIME, A UNIVERSITY EDUCATION WAS
NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR SUCCESS. END COMMENT) AT 17, SHE MET
BURTON SHIPLEY AND, TAKING THE INITIATIVE, ASKED HIM TO A BALL.
(THE COUPLE DATED FOR FOUR YEARS BEFORE GETTING MARRIED.) AT 18,
SHIPLEY'S FATHER DIED UNEXPECTEDLY, AND HER MOTHER BEGAN TO LIVE
ON A WIDOW'S PENSION. (AS SOCIAL WELFARE MINISTER MANY YEARS
LATER, SHIPLEY WOULD OVERSEE LEGISLATION THAT REDUCED THIS
BENEFIT.)

--------------------------------
TRAUMATIC PREGNANCY SPURS CHANGE
--------------------------------
6. (C) AFTER GRADUATING FROM CHRISTCHURCH TEACHERS COLLEGE IN
1971, SHIPLEY BEGAN TO SETTLE INTO A FAIRLY CONVENTIONAL LIFE FOR
A 19 YEAR OLD NEW ZEALAND WOMAN. IN 1972, SHE BEGAN HER CAREER
AS A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER IN A CHRISTCHURCH SUBURB. SHE JOINED
THE NATIONAL PARTY AND BECAME POLITICALLY ACTIVE, BUT IN CONTRAST
TO HER PEERS, WHO BECAME ACTIVISTS BECAUSE OF VIETNAM, SHE
FOCUSED HER ENERGIES ON COMMUNITY ISSUES (SPECIFICALLY, CHILD
CARE ISSUES: MANDATORY FENCES AROUND POOLS AND CHILD SEAT
RESTRAINTS). AFTER MARRIAGE IN 1973, SHIPLEY SPENT THE NEXT
THREE YEARS JUGGLING HER TEACHING CAREER, FAMILY FARM DUTIES,
MARRIAGE AND INTEREST IN LOCAL POLITICS. IN 1976, SHE DECIDED TO
QUIT TEACHING TO RAISE A FAMILY. THE COUPLE HAD A GIRL, ANNA, IN
1977, AND A BOY, BEN, IN 1978.

7. (C) SHIPLEY HAD SEVERE DIFFICULTIES DURING BEN'S BIRTH,
BEGAN TO HEMORRHAGE SHORTLY AFTER DELIVERY, AND WAS REPORTEDLY
NEAR DEATH. ALONG WITH THE PHYSICAL TRAUMA, SHE WENT THROUGH A
PERIOD OF SEVERE POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION. DURING HER
CONVALESCENCE, SHIPLEY CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT SHE WOULD NOT
BE CONTENT WITH HER LIFE AS IT WAS AND WOULD BE DOING A
DISSERVICE TO HERSELF AND HER FAMILY IF SHE DID NOT MAKE A
CHANGE. MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD, ACCORDING TO ONE REPORT, BECAME
A THREAT TO HER IDENTITY. WITH BURTON'S BLESSING, SHIPLEY BECAME
MORE ACTIVE IN POLITICS AND MORE SERIOUS ABOUT A POLITICAL
CAREER.

8. (C) IN 1980, SHIPLEY MET HER PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATIVE,
RUTH RICHARDSON, A NATIONAL PARTY FAST-RISING RIGHT-WING ECONOMIC
RATIONALIST. RICHARDSON, WHO ALSO HAD A FARMING BACKGROUND
(ALBEIT A WEALTHY ONE), TOOK A SHINE TO SHIPLEY AND BECAME HER
MENTOR AND GODFATHER. RICHARDSON HELPED PAVE THE WAY FOR
SHIPLEY'S ELEVATION FROM A CAMPAIGN EXTRA TO ELECTED POSITIONS
(THE MALVERN COUNTY COUNCIL AND THE NATIONAL PARTY'S CANTERBURY-
WESTLAND POLICY COMMITTEE). IN 1984, SHIPLEY RETURNED THE FAVOR
BY CAMPAIGNING HEAVILY FOR RICHARDSON'S (SUCCESSFUL) RE-ELECTION.
(ALTHOUGH SHIPLEY SHARES RICHARDSON'S DISLIKE FOR THE WELFARE
STATE AND PREFERENCE FOR MARKET-ORIENTED SOLUTIONS TO ECONOMIC
PROBLEMS, SHIPLEY'S APPROACH IS LESS DOGMATIC AND SHE HAS BEEN
CAREFUL TO CHART HER OWN COURSE. AFTER SHIPLEY ENTERED
PARLIAMENT, AND AS RICHARDSON'S POLICIES AS AN OUTSPOKEN RADICAL
REFORMIST FINANCE MINISTER BECAME INCREASINGLY CONTROVERSIAL,
SHIPLEY BEGAN TO PUBLICLY DISTANCE HERSELF FROM HER MENTOR. SHE
IS NOW QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT SHE IS "NOT A RICHARDSON CLONE.")

----------------------------
QUICK RISER IN OPPOSITION...
----------------------------
9. (C) IN 1987, AT 35 YEARS OF AGE, SHIPLEY ANNOUNCED FOR AND
WON THE MARGINAL RURAL SEAT OF ASHBURTON (LATER RENAMED RAKAIA).
ALTHOUGH THE RETIRING NATIONAL INCUMBENT HAD HELD THE SEAT WITH A
500 VOTE MAJORITY, SHIPLEY INCREASED THAT MARGIN TO 5,000 VOTES
(THE BIGGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN THE 1987 ELECTION FOR EITHER
PARTY AND AN IMPRESSIVE DEBUT). UPON HER ELECTION, BURTON SOLD
THE FAMILY FARM AND BECAME A HOUSE-HUSBAND, WHILE SHIPLEY
COMMUTED TO PARLIAMENT.

10. (C) SHIPLEY BEGAN HER PARLIAMENTARY CAREER RANKED 38TH OUT
OF 40 NATIONAL MPS, SERVING ON THE EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
COMMITTEE. SEVENTEEN MONTHS LATER, AFTER EXHIBITING THE HARD
WORK AND THOROUGH RESEARCH THAT HAVE BECOME HER TRADEMARK,
SHIPLEY WAS APPOINTED OPPOSITION ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON ON
EDUCATION BY NATIONAL LEADER JIM BOLGER (LEAP-FROGGING NATIONAL'S
ENTIRE INTAKE OF MPS IN THE CLASS OF 1984). A YEAR LATER, AT 39
YEARS OF AGE, BOLGER APPOINTED SHIPLEY OPPOSITION SPOKESPERSON ON
SOCIAL WELFARE, A JUMP TO 11TH PLACE IN NATIONAL PARTY RANKINGS.
HER QUICK RISE BEGAN TO ATTRACT ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA, WHICH
DUBBED HER "MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED."

--------------------------------------------- -----------
. . .THANKLESS GNZ PORTFOLIOS: SOCIAL WELFARE AND HEALTH
--------------------------------------------- -----------
11. (C) UPON NATIONAL'S ELECTION VICTORY IN 1990, SHIPLEY
BECAME MINISTER FOR SOCIAL WELFARE (THE GOVERNMENT'S LARGEST
SPENDING PORTFOLIO) AND MINISTER FOR WOMEN'S AFFAIRS. IT WOULD
BE THE FIRST OF TWO POLITICALLY THANKLESS PORTFOLIOS PM BOLGER
WOULD HAND SHIPLEY (IN AN ATTEMPT BY BOLGER TO TEMPER HER
METEORIC RISE, ACCORDING TO SOME OBSERVERS). AS MINISTER FOR
SOCIAL WELFARE, SHIPLEY PRESIDED OVER "THE MOST EXTENSIVE REVAMP
OF THE WELFARE STATE" TO DATE. SHE FIRST CAPPED THEN CUT WELFARE
BENEFITS TO THE UNEMPLOYED, RETIREES AND WIDOWS BY AS MUCH AS 25
PER CENT. DURING THIS TIME, SHIPLEY DEVELOPED A REPUTATION FOR
RUTHLESS EFFICIENCY AND, IN SOME EYES, BECAME THE HARD FACE OF AN
UNCARING GOVERNMENT. IN INSTITUTING DIFFICULT POLICY DECISIONS,
SHE EARNED THE PUBLIC'S IRE (SHE WAS BURNED IN EFFIGY SEVERAL
TIMES), BUT ALSO ITS GRUDGING RESPECT AS WELL AS THE ADMIRATION
OF HER PARLIAMENTARY COLLEAGUES. SHE ALSO DEVELOPED FINE
DEBATING SKILLS, IN CONFRONTING LABOUR'S THEN SOCIAL WELFARE
SPOKESPERSON (AND CURRENT DEPUTY LEADER) MICHAEL CULLEN -- ONE OF
LABOUR'S SHARPEST PARLIAMENTARY DEBATERS.

12. (C) AFTER NATIONAL'S SUCCESSFUL RE-ELECTION IN 1993,
SHIPLEY WAS REWARDED FOR HER DEFT HANDLING OF THE DIFFICULT
SOCIAL WELFARE PORTFOLIO WITH A JUMP IN CABINET (FROM 11TH TO 5TH
PLACE--THE BIGGEST PROMOTION IN THAT CABINET SHUFFLE), BUT WITH
ANOTHER DIFFICULT JOB. AS MINISTER OF HEALTH, SHIPLEY WAS ASKED
AGAIN TO CAP AND THEN CUT PUBLIC SPENDING. SHIPLEY MANAGED HER
PORTFOLIO WELL, AND INTRODUCED MANY OF THE CUTS IN UNIVERSAL
HEALTH BENEFITS THAT ARE ONLY NOW COMING INTO BEING -- TO THE
CONCERN OF MANY NEW ZEALANDERS. (HEALTH CUTS REMAIN AN ACHILLES
HEEL FOR NATIONAL, AND WILL PROBABLY REMAIN A SIGNIFICANT ISSUE
IN THE RUN-UP TO THE NEXT ELECTION, REQUIRED NO LATER THAN
OCTOBER 1999.)

13. (C) WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF MIXED-MEMBER PROPORTIONAL
(MMP) PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION IN THE 1996 ELECTION AND THE
FORMATION OF A NATIONAL-NEW ZEALAND FIRST (NZF) COALITION IN
DECEMBER 1996, SHIPLEY HAD REPORTEDLY HOPED FOR A RESPITE AND A
REWARD WITH A JUNIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO. INSTEAD, SHE
BECAME MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES AND STATE
SERVICES (SHE WOULD LATER REGAIN THE WOMEN'S AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO
AND RELINQUISH THE STATE SERVICES PORTFOLIO). ONCE AGAIN,
HOWEVER, SHE THREW HERSELF INTO HER WORK, ACHIEVING OPEN SKIES
AGREEMENTS WITH THE U.S., SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA AND NEW AVIATION
LIBERALIZATION ACCORDS WITH THE UK AND SOUTH AFRICA.

14. (C) UPON THE FORMATION OF THE COALITION, SUPPORT FOR PM
BOLGER BEGAN TO SLIDE WITHIN HIS PARTY AND IN PUBLIC OPINION
POLLS. AT THE SAME TIME, SHIPLEY'S STATURE BEGAN TO GROW WITHIN
THE PARTY AND ON THE STREET. THE MEDIA PICKED UP THE DRUMBEAT
AND, FOR SOME TIME, PALACE COUP RUMORS AROUND PARLIAMENT BECAME
COMMONPLACE.

15. (C) SHIPLEY'S STATURE WAS FURTHER ENHANCED AS SHE BEGAN TO
DISTANCE HERSELF PUBLICLY FROM NATIONAL'S COALITION PARTNER AND
NZF'S CONTROVERSIAL LEADER, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND TREASURER
WINSTON PETERS. AMIDST PETERS'S DEMANDS DURING THE NEGOTIATIONS
TO FORM THE COALITION, SHIPLEY ASKED, "HOW MANY RATS DO WE HAVE
TO SWALLOW?" LATER, SHE PUBLICLY OPPOSED A REFERENDUM ON
COMPULSORY RETIREMENT SAVINGS CHAMPIONED BY PETERS THAT LOST BY
MORE THAN 90 PER CENT OF THE VOTE.

16. (C) AMIDST BOLGER'S LANGUISHING POLLS AND DURING HIS VISIT
TO THE COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING IN SCOTLAND AND
TO PARIS IN EARLY NOVEMBER, SHIPLEY LAUNCHED A SECRETIVE, WELL-
PLANNED AND SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE IN THE NATIONAL
CAUCUS. AFTER INTENSE BEHIND-THE-SCENES NEGOTIATIONS, BOLGER
RESIGNED IN FAVOR OF SHIPLEY AS PARTY LEADER ON NOVEMBER 3.
(SOME OBSERVERS SPECULATED AT THE TIME THAT THE BAD BLOOD BETWEEN
PETERS AND SHIPLEY WOULD PROVE INSURMOUNTABLE AND THAT PETERS
WOULD PULL OUT OF THE COALITION UPON SHIPLEY'S ACCESSION.
INDEED, PETERS EXPLORED FORMING A GOVERNMENT WITH LABOUR AFTER
SHIPLEY BECAME NATIONAL'S LEADER, BUT RETURNED TO THE COALITION
AFTER LABOUR TURNED HIM DOWN (REF A). AFFIRMING THEIR
PRAGMATISM, SHIPLEY AND PETERS HAVE REPORTEDLY SINCE PATCHED OVER
THEIR DIFFERENCES.) SHOWING A DEGREE OF SENSITIVITY, SHE GAVE
BOLGER A DECENT FINAL INTERVAL AS PM, ALLOWING HIM TO TRAVEL TO
THE VANCOUVER APEC SUMMIT AND TO VISIT CHINA AS SCHEDULED. ON
DECEMBER 8, AFTER ONLY TEN YEARS IN PARLIAMENT, SHIPLEY WAS SWORN
IN AS NEW ZEALAND'S FIRST WOMAN PRIME MINISTER.

-------------
SHIPLEY TODAY
-------------
17. (C) JENNY SHIPLEY DESCRIBES HERSELF AS "CONSERVATIVE
CENTER-RIGHT." HER POLICY INTERESTS ARE MICROECONOMIC REFORM,
WOMEN'S ISSUES, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL ISSUES. WITHIN THE NATIONAL
PARTY, HER CREDENTIALS ON ECONOMIC REFORM ARE SOLID. HOWEVER,
HER LIBERAL LEANINGS ON SOCIAL ISSUES (BIRTH CONTROL, SEX
EDUCATION, WOMEN'S ISSUES, GAY RIGHTS) HAVE ALLOWED HER TO CLAIM
NEW TERRITORY FOR NATIONAL (WHICH MAY PROVE VALUABLE IN
ATTRACTING THE FEMALE UNDECIDED VOTE IN FUTURE ELECTIONS), BUT
HAVE ALSO OCCASIONALLY ANGERED SOME OF HER PARTY COLLEAGUES AND
AMUSED OTHERS. (IN ONE UNUSUAL CAUCUS MEETING, SHIPLEY OFFERED
TO EDUCATE NATIONAL MPS ON HOW TO EXAMINE THEMSELVES FOR SEXUALLY
TRANSMITTED DISEASES. HER EMBARRASSED COLLEAGUES DECLINED.)

18. (C) SHIPLEY DESCRIBES HER APPROACH TO GOVERNANCE AS ONE OF
SELF-RELIANCE -- STRESSING INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND
DISCIPLINE. SHE DEEMS HER COMMUNICATION SKILLS TO BE HER BEST
ASSET, ONCE BOASTING PUBLICLY THAT SHE COULD "SELL RICE TO A
CHINAMAN." WHILE NOT AN ACADEMIC OR AN IDEAS PERSON, SHIPLEY HAS
POLITICAL SMARTS, SEIZES HER PORTFOLIO, LEARNS IT INSIDE AND OUT,
AND STAYS CURRENT. SHE IS ALSO A GOOD MANAGER AND HAS ASSEMBLED
ONE OF THE BRIGHTEST, MOST LOYAL STAFFS IN PARLIAMENT. OBSERVERS
HAVE CHARACTERIZED HER AS ICY, CORRECT, UNFLAPPABLE, AND ABLE TO
WORDLESSLY CONVEY THE SCHOOL-TEACHER-LIKE MESSAGE OF "DON'T MESS
WITH ME." SHIPLEY STATES THAT HER CHRISTIAN FAITH IS IMPORTANT
TO HER, BUT RARELY TALKS ABOUT RELIGION IN PUBLIC. SHE IS
INTERESTED IN WATER SPORTS AND LIKES TO SPEND HER FREE TIME WITH
FAMILY, GARDENING, READING AND COOKING OUT ON THE BARBECUE.

----------------------------------
SHIPLEY'S FEELING TOWARDS THE U.S.
----------------------------------
19. (C) THE PM HAS WARM FEELINGS TOWARDS THE U.S. WHEN SHIPLEY
FIRST ENTERED PARLIAMENT, SHE OFTEN ATTENDED USG FUNCTIONS BUT
NOW DOES SO LESS FREQUENTLY DUE TO HER BUSY SCHEDULE. IN APRIL
1989, SHIPLEY WENT TO THE U.S. ON A USIS IV GRANT TO LOOK AT
ORGANIC FOOD AND GREENHOUSE GAS ISSUES. ALTHOUGH SHIPLEY IS
WELL-DISPOSED TO THE U.S., SHE IS HER OWN PERSON AND TAKES
POSITIONS THAT ARE IN HER OWN PERCEIVED INTEREST. LIKE MANY OF
HER NATIONAL PARTY COLLEAGUES IN THE RUN-UP TO THE 1990 ELECTION,
SHE DID NOT OPPOSE NATIONAL'S ADOPTION OF LABOUR'S ANTI-NUCLEAR
POLICY (BELIEVING THAT TO DO SO WOULD HARM NATIONAL'S ELECTION
PROSPECTS). IN THE WAKE OF HER FIRST FOREIGN INTERVIEW AFTER
BECOMING PARTY LEADER, SHIPLEY TOOK TO THE FLOOR OF PARLIAMENT TO
REFUTE A SYDNEY MORNING HERALD ARTICLE THAT STATED SHE WOULD
RECONSIDER NZ'S ANTI-NUCLEAR POLICY UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES
(REF B). SHIPLEY'S CLARIFICATION EFFECTIVELY ELIMINATED (FOR THE
TIME BEING) ANY CHANCE THAT SHE MIGHT PUSH FOR A CHANGE IN NZ'S
NUCLEAR POLICY.

-----------------------
HUSBAND, BURTON SHIPLEY
-----------------------
20. (C) MARRIED TO SHIPLEY FOR 24 YEARS, BURTON SHIPLEY IS A 45
YEAR OLD, MID-LEVEL FINANCIAL ADVISOR WITH WESTPAC BANK. A
FARMER BY TRADE, HE BECAME A FULL-TIME HOUSEHUSBAND FOR TWO YEARS
(RAISING TWO CHILDREN), WHILE HIS WIFE COMMUTED TO PARLIAMENT.
ONCE THEIR CHILDREN ENTERED BOARDING SCHOOL, BURTON LEFT THE FARM
AND WORKED AS A LOBBYIST FOR THE DEER FARMERS' ASSOCIATION, AND
THEN AS A FINANCIAL ADVISOR FOR MONEY MANAGERS BEFORE JOINING
WESTPAC. AT 6'4", BURTON IS OFTEN MISTAKEN FOR HIS WIFE'S
BODYGUARD. HE IS A FORMER BASKETBALL PLAYER (JUST MISSING OUT ON
NEW ZEALAND'S NATIONAL TEAM), AND CURRENTLY ENJOYS SAILING. NOT
SHY ABOUT VOICING HIS OPINIONS (TO HIS WIFE AND, AT LEAST BEFORE
HER ACCESSION TO PM, TO OTHERS), BURTON SAYS HE IS FURTHER RIGHT
THAN HIS WIFE AND GOOD AT IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS, BUT NOT THEIR
SOLUTIONS. BOTH THEIR CHILDREN ATTEND CANTERBURY UNIVERSITY.

-----------------------------------
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT SHIPLEY
-----------------------------------
21. (C) HOW OTHERS SEE SHIPLEY IS ILLUMINATING:

-- NATIONAL PARTY PM ROBERT MULDOON DESCRIBED SHIPLEY AS: "...A
FRONT ROW RUGBY PROP...BASICALLY A NICE PERSON, BUT IF YOU THINK
A MIDDLE-AGED, OVER-WEIGHT FARMER'S WIFE CAN REMAKE THE WELFARE
SYSTEM THEN YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND."

-- LABOR DEPUTY LEADER AND FINANCIAL SPOKESPERSON MICHAEL CULLEN
CALLED SHIPLEY (AS SOCIAL WELFARE MINISTER): "THE MOST HATED
MINISTER IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY."

-- FORMER NEW ZEALAND FIRST MP AND CURRENT NATIONAL COMMENTATOR
MICHAEL LAWS RECENTLY CALLED SHIPLEY: "THE HUMAN FACE OF THE
SPANISH INQUISITION...THE SILENT MENACE OF NEW ZEALAND
POLITICS...SHE CAN TELL YOU IN WONDERFUL WARM TONES HOW SHE IS
GOING TO GARROTTE YOU AND THEN THROW YOUR INTESTINES OVER HER
LEFT SHOULDER."

-- FORMER LABOR PM DAVID LANGE RECENTLY DESCRIBED HER AS:
"...TOUGHER THAN ANY MAN IN CABINET...THE ONLY WORTHY NATIONAL
OPPONENT SINCE MULDOON...BEATING HER IS LIKE BEATING SOUTH AFRICA
(IN RUGBY)."

22. (C) COMMENT: IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE TO REDUCE SHIPLEY TO A
RICHARDSON-CLONE, A THATCHER-CLONE OR "BOLGER IN A FROCK." SHE
IS A SMART, HARD-WORKING POLITICIAN, ALTERNATELY RUTHLESS AND
PRAGMATIC AS NEEDED. SHE WILL TRY TO AVOID BOLGER'S MISTAKE OF
BEING SEEN AS TOO CHUMMY WITH NZF AND PETERS AND ISOLATED FROM
NATIONAL'S BACKBENCH. NONETHELESS, THE NEW PM REALIZES THAT
UNDER MMP, NATIONAL'S RE-ELECTION HOPES RIDE ON A WELL-RUN
COALITION THAT ADDRESSES IMPORTANT DOMESTIC ISSUES.

BEEMAN

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