Jim Anderton portrait

James Patrick Anderton, (born 21 January 1938) (known as Jim Anderton), was leader of the Progressive Party, a political party in the New Zealand Parliament. He has served in Parliament since 1984. He served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1999 to 2002. He retired in 2011 and the party was deregistered in 2012.

Early daysEdit

Jim Anderton was born on 21 January 1938 in Auckland. He undertook all his education there, eventually graduating as a qualified teacher. He spent only two years in a teaching role, however, before moving on to work as a child welfare officer. In 1960, he became involved in organization for a Catholic youth movement, and later worked as the secretary for the Catholic diocese in Auckland. He later moved into business, working as an export manager for a textiles company before establishing Anderton Holdings, a manufacturing company, in 1971.

Entering politicsEdit

His political career began when he was elected to the Manukau City Council in 1965, and again in 1974. He subsequently joined the Auckland Regional Authority in 1977. At the same time, he worked his way up the internal hierarchy of the Labour Party, which he had joined in 1963. He became the party's president in 1979, a year before his term with the Auckland Regional Authority ended. He was also a long-standing member of the party's policy council.

Member of ParliamentEdit

Parl. Electorate List Pos. Party
41st Sydenham Labour
42nd Sydenham Labour
43rd Sydenham New Labour
44th Sydenham Alliance
45th Wigram 1 Alliance
46th Wigram 1 Alliance
47th Wigram 1 Progressives
48th Wigram 1 Progressives

In 1984, Anderton successfully stood as the Labour candidate for Sydenham in Christchurch, becoming a member of the Fourth Labour Government. However, he soon came into conflict with the party's leadership, and became one of the most outspoken critics of Minister of Finance Roger Douglas. Douglas and his allies, Richard Prebble and David Caygill, were determined to implement radical reforms of the country's economic system, known unofficially as "Rogernomics". This involved a monetarist approach to controlling inflation, the removal of tariffs and subsidies, and the privatisation of state assets — all of this was regarded by Anderton as a betrayal of the party's left-wing roots, and a severe deviation from the party's election platform.

Anderton's severe criticism of Douglas and his reforms earned him the enmity of many within the party, including some of those who shared Anderton's frustration - his public comments were seen as damaging the party's public image. He did, however, become highly popular with the public, as many New Zealanders shared his opposition to the reforms. He also won widespread praise for keeping to Labour's campaign pledges even when the rest of the party abandoned them.

1989 split from LabourEdit

Although many ordinary members of the Labour Party (who were unhappy at the way the party's parliamentary wing was behaving) backed Anderton, he became increasingly isolated in parliament. When Anderton disobeyed party instructions to vote in favour of selling the Bank of New Zealand (which Labour had explicitly promised not to do), he was suspended from caucus. In April 1989, believing that Labour was beyond change, Anderton resigned from the party. He later said, "I did not leave the Labour Party; the Labour Party left me."

On 1 May, Anderton announced the creation of the NewLabour Party, intended to represent the "real" spirit of the original Labour Party. Its primary goals were state intervention in the economy, retention of public assets, and full employment. In the 1990 general election Anderton retained his Sydenham seat, ensuring that NewLabour (and Anderton's criticism) would not fade away. He was the first MP in NZ political history to leave an established party, found another and be re-elected to Parliament representing that new party. In parliament, Anderton attacked the policies of the new National Party government, particularly Ruth Richardson's continuation of Rogernomics.

The AllianceEdit

When, in 1991, the Alliance was established, NewLabour and Anderton were at the centre of it. Anderton became leader of the new party, and in the 1993 election, he was joined in parliament by Alliance colleague Sandra Lee-Vercoe. He briefly stepped down as leader of the Alliance for family reasons in November 1994, but was persuaded to return in May 1995.

In the 1996 election, the first to be held under MMP, the Alliance won 13 seats in Parliament. Anderton retained his constituency seat (the electorate was now renamed Wigram) and he was joined in Parliament by 12 List MPs.

Anderton was the most prominent critic of the rash of party-switching (or "waka jumping," as it is called in New Zealand) that characterized the 45th Parliament. When Alamein Kopu, a list MP from his party, declared herself an independent and supported the National-led coalition, Anderton blasted her, saying her behavior "breached every standard of ethics that are known." He later started a "Go Now" petition calling on Kopu and every other party-switching MP to resign. When Kopu founded her own party, Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata in support of the government, Anderton suggested that the new party's creation smacked of corruption--as a party leader rather than a mere independent, Kopu received an additional $80,000 in funding.

Coalition GovernmentEdit

By the late 1990s, Labour under Helen Clark had largely purged itself of the influence of Roger Douglas. Realising that the cost of a split in the left-wing vote was a continued National government, the two parties agreed to form a coalition for the 1999 elections. National was swept from power, and Anderton became Deputy Prime Minister. He was also given the newly created post of Minister of Economic Development, which had an emphasis on job creation and regional development initiatives.

Towards the end of the parliamentary term, however, Anderton came into conflict with the party's administrative wing. Party president Matt McCarten and his allies claimed that the Alliance was too close to Labour, and that it should take a less moderate path. Anderton replied that a certain amount of moderation was required for the Alliance to accomplish any of its goals. There were also complaints that Anderton was too dominant in the party's decision-making and over the fact that Anderton supported the government's stance on the bombing of Afghanistan, while the executive and wider membership opposed it. Eventually, Anderton and three other MPs chose to leave the Alliance, establishing the new Progressive Coalition (now the Progressive Party). However, in order to get around the Electoral Integrity Act, which had been passed largely because of Anderton's complaints about waka jumping, Anderton technically remained the Alliance's parliamentary leader until the writ was dropped for the 2002 election.

In the election, Anderton was returned to Parliament, and the Progressives took the Alliance's place as Labour's coalition partner. However, the Progressives only won 1.4% of the vote and would have been shut out of Parliament had Anderton not won his electorate. As it was, only one other Progressive — deputy leader Matt Robson — was able to enter Parliament. Anderton gave up the deputy prime minister's post to Minister of Finance and Labour deputy leader Michael Cullen. Even though he was leader of the junior partner in the coalition, his support no longer justified the deputy's post. He remained, however, Minister of Economic Development, and also held other ministerial portfolios. He ranks third in Cabinet, behind Clark and Cullen.

In the runup to the 2005 election Anderton renamed his party to "Jim Anderton's Progressive". However, he was the only Progressive returned to Parliament by a narrow margin after many left-wing voters voted for Labour to prevent a National government from being elected due to a split on the left. He was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Biosecurity, and Minister responsible for the Public Trust, as well as holding associate roles in health and tertiary education.

He did not stand for the 2011 election (won by the Nationals) and the party was wound up in 2012.


Political officesEdit

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