Bill Birch

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Sir William Birch

Bill Birch.jpg
38th Minister of Finance
In office
November 1993 31 January 1999
Prime Minister Jim Bolger (1993–1997)
Jenny Shipley (1997–1999)
Preceded by Ruth Richardson
Succeeded by Bill English
In office
22 June 1999 10 December 1999
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
Preceded by Bill English
Succeeded by Michael Cullen
2nd Treasurer of New Zealand
In office
14 August 1998 June 1999
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
Preceded by Winston Peters
Succeeded by Bill English
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Franklin
In office
25 November 1972  26 October 1978
Preceded by Alfred E. Allen
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
In office
14 July 1984  1987
Preceded byconstituency created
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
In office
1993  1996
Preceded byconstituency created
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Rangiriri
In office
25 November 1978  15 June 1984
Preceded byconstituency created
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Maramarua
In office
1987  1993
Preceded byconstituency created
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Port Waikato
In office
1996  1999
Preceded byconstituency created
Succeeded by Paul Hutchison
Personal details
Born (1934-04-09) 9 April 1934 (age 85)
Hastings, New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s)Alice Rosa Mitchell (d. 2015)
Profession Surveyor

Sir William Francis Birch GNZM (born 9 April 1934), usually known as Bill Birch, is a former New Zealand politician. He served as Minister of Finance for several years in the fourth National government.

Minister of Finance (New Zealand) in New Zealand

The Minister of Finance, originally known as Colonial Treasurer, is a senior figure within the Government of New Zealand and head of the New Zealand Treasury. The position is often considered to be the most important cabinet post after that of the Prime Minister. The Minister of Finance is responsible for producing an annual New Zealand budget outlining the government's proposed expenditure.

The Fourth National Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 2 November 1990 to 27 November 1999. Following electoral reforms in the 1996 election, Jim Bolger formed a coalition with New Zealand First. Following Bolger's resignation, the government was led by Jenny Shipley, the country's first female Prime Minister, for the final two years.

Contents

Early life

Birch was born in Hastings on 9 April 1934, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Birch. [1] He was educated at Hamilton's Technical High School and through Wellington Technical Correspondence School. He was trained as a surveyor, and established a business in Pukekohe, a small town south of Auckland. [2] Birch quickly became involved in various Pukekohe community organisations. He served on Pukehohe's borough council from 1965 to 1974, and was deputy mayor from 1968 to 1974.

Hastings, New Zealand City in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Hastings is a New Zealand city and is one of the two major urban areas in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The population of Hastings is 70,600, with 45,000 living in the contiguous city and Flaxmere, 13,950 in Havelock North, 2,210 in Clive, and the remainder in the peri-urban area around the city. Hastings is about 18 kilometres inland of the coastal city of Napier. These two neighbouring cities are often called "The Bay Cities" or "The Twin Cities". The combined population of the Napier-Hastings Urban Area is 134,500 people, which makes it the sixth-largest urban area in New Zealand, closely following Tauranga (141,600).

Surveying The technique, profession, and science of determining the positions of points and the distances and angles between them

Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, art and science of determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional positions of points and the distances and angles between them. A land surveying professional is called a land surveyor. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and they are often used to establish maps and boundaries for ownership, locations, such as building corners or the surface location of subsurface features, or other purposes required by government or civil law, such as property sales.

Pukekohe Secondary urban area in Auckland, New Zealand

Pukekohe is a town in the Auckland Region of the North Island of New Zealand. Located at the southern edge of the Auckland Region, it is in South Auckland, between the southern shore of the Manukau Harbour and the mouth of the Waikato River. The hills of Pukekohe and nearby Bombay Hills form the natural southern limit of the Auckland region. Pukekohe is located within the political boundaries of the Auckland Council, following the abolition of the Franklin District Council on 1 November 2010.

In 1953, Birch married Rosa Mitchell, and the couple went on to have four children. [1]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
YearsTermElectorateListParty
1972 1975 37th Franklin National
1975 1978 38th Franklin National
1978 1981 39th Rangiriri National
1981 1984 40th Rangiriri National
1984 1987 41st Franklin National
1987 1990 42nd Maramarua National
1990 1993 43rd Maramarua National
1993 1996 44th Franklin National
1996 1999 45th Port Waikato 3 National

Birch first entered parliament in the 1972 election, as the National Party's candidate for the Franklin electorate; [3] Pukekohe was located roughly in the centre of the Franklin electorate. [4] National won the 1975 election, and formed the third National Government, [5] whilst Birch was re-elected in Franklin. [3] The Franklin electorate was abolished in the 1977 electoral redistribution and the electorate's area divided between several different electorates. [6] Pukekohe was the northernmost settlement in the new Rangiriri electorate, [7] and Birch won the 1978 election in that electorate. [3] Birch was re-elected in Rangiriri in 1981, [3] but the electorate was abolished through the 1983 electoral redistribution. For the 1984 election, Pukekohe was again located in the reconstituted Franklin electorate, and Birch won that election and the subsequent one in 1987. [3] [8] Through the 1987 electoral redistribution, Pukekohe belonged to the new Maramarua electorate from 1987 to 1993, and Birch served that electorate for two parliamentary terms. [9] For one term beginning in 1993, he represented the reconstituted Franklin electorate, before transferring to the new Port Waikato electorate in 1996. Birch retired in 1999 after 27 years in Parliament. [10]

1972 New Zealand general election

The New Zealand general election of 1972 was held on 25 November to elect MPs to the 37th session of the New Zealand Parliament. The Labour Party, led by Norman Kirk, defeated the governing National Party.

Franklin was a rural New Zealand parliamentary electorate. It existed from 1861 to 1996 during four periods.

1975 New Zealand general election

The 1975 New Zealand general election was held on 29 November to elect MPs to the 38th session of the New Zealand Parliament. It was the first general election in New Zealand where 18- to 20-year-olds and all permanent residents of New Zealand were eligible to vote, although only citizens were able to be elected.

Cabinet minister

1978–1984

After holding a number of internal National Party positions, Birch was made Minister of National Development, Minister of Energy, and Minister of Science and Technology in 1978. In 1981, he swapped the Science and Technology role for the Regional Development portfolio. [11] As Minister for National Development, Birch was closely involved in the Think Big project, a series of high-cost programmes designed to reduce New Zealand's dependence on imported fuel. When National lost the 1984 election, Birch's ministerial career was interrupted, but he remained in parliament. [3]

Think Big

Think Big was an interventionist state economic strategy of the Third National Government of New Zealand, promoted by the Prime Minister Robert Muldoon (1975–1984) and his National government in the early 1980s. The Think Big schemes saw the government borrow heavily overseas, running up a large external deficit, and using the funds for large-scale industrial projects. Petrochemical- and energy-related projects figured prominently, designed to utilize New Zealand's abundant natural gas to produce ammonia, urea fertilizer, methanol and petrol.

1984 New Zealand general election

The 1984 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 41st New Zealand Parliament. It marked the beginning of the Fourth Labour Government, with David Lange's Labour Party defeating the long-serving Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, of the National Party. It was also the last election in which the Social Credit Party won seats as an independent entity. The election was also the only one in which the New Zealand Party, a protest party, played any substantial role.

1990–1996

After National regained power in the 1990 election, Birch re-entered cabinet as part of the fourth National government. Over the next three years, he was to hold a number of ministerial roles, including Minister of Labour, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Minister of Employment, Minister of Health, Minister of State Services, and Minister responsible for the ACC. As Minister of Labour, Birch introduced the Employment Contracts Act, which radically liberalised the labour market, most noticeably by reducing the power of trade unions.

1990 New Zealand general election

The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its controversial two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.

Minister of Labour (New Zealand)

The Minister of Labour was the minister in the government responsible for the Department of Labour. The portfolio was established in 1892, a year after the Department of Labour was formed, and was abolished on 1 July 2012, when it was replaced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Today, the duties of the Minister of Labour are assumed by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.

Minister of Immigration (New Zealand)

The Minister of Immigration was established by the First Labour Government in 1940. Note that while Martin has the first minister as Angus McLagan, Wilson and Wood have David Wilson and Paddy Webb preceding him.

In 1992, Birch was made a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, an honour reserved for senior New Zealand politicians.

During this period, Birch clashed a number of times with the controversial Minister of Finance, Ruth Richardson. The Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, had never been a supporter of Richardson's strong laissez-faire policies, and preferred the more conservative Birch for the Finance portfolio. At the 1993 election, which National nearly lost, Richardson was removed from her Finance role, and Birch was elevated in her place.

Birch's appointment to the Finance portfolio raised eyebrows, given Birch's association with the Think Big projects. However, he soon developed a reputation for a frugal finance minister, delivering a succession of balanced budgets. He also privatised a number of state assets.

1996–1999

After the 1996 election, National needed to form a coalition with the New Zealand First party in order to govern. New Zealand First's leader, Winston Peters, insisted on control of the Finance role as part of the coalition agreement, and National eventually agreed. The Minister of Finance role was split into two separate offices, one given the title "Treasurer" and the other still called "Minister of Finance". Treasurer, the senior title, was given to Winston Peters, while Birch retained the (lessened) role of Minister of Finance. Some, however, have voiced the opinion that whatever the official arrangement may have been, Birch still performed most of the job's key functions. Mike Moore of the Labour Party commented that "we are always impressed when Winston Peters answers questions, because Bill Birch's lips do not move."

When the coalition with New Zealand First broke down, Birch took over the role of Treasurer. He was both Treasurer and Minister of Finance for several months before Bill English was promoted to Minister of Finance, leaving Birch with the senior role. In the middle of 1999, however, Birch and English were swapped, with Birch becoming Minister of Finance again.

Retirement

Birch retired from Parliament at the 1999 general election. His wife, Rosa, Lady Birch, died in Pukekohe on 22 June 2015. [12]

Honours and awards

Birch was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal in 1990. [1] In the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for public services as a Member of Parliament and Minister of the Crown. [13]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 67. ISBN   0-908578-34-2.
  2. "Rt Hon Sir William Birch GNZM". Government of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wilson 1985, p. 184.
  4. McRobie 1989, p. 114.
  5. Wilson 1985, p. 288.
  6. McRobie 1989, pp. 114–119.
  7. McRobie 1989, p. 118.
  8. McRobie 1989, pp. 122f.
  9. McRobie 1989, pp. 126f.
  10. Birch, Bill (8 October 1999). "House: Valedictory of Rt. Hon. Sir William Birch" (Press release). Wellington. Scoop . Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  11. Wilson 1985, p. 95.
  12. "Rosa Birch death notice". New Zealand Herald. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  13. "Queen's Birthday honours list 1999 (including Niue)". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 7 June 1999. Retrieved 12 May 2019.

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References

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Alfred E. Allen
Member of Parliament for Franklin
1972–1978
1984–1987
1993–1996
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Rangiriri
1978–1984
Member of Parliament for Maramarua
1987–1993
Member of Parliament for Port Waikato
1996–1999
Succeeded by
Dr Paul Hutchison
Political offices
Preceded by
Simon Upton
Minister of Health
1993
Succeeded by
Jenny Shipley
Preceded by
Ruth Richardson
Minister of Finance
1993–1999
1999
Succeeded by
Bill English
Preceded by
Bill English
Succeeded by
Dr Michael Cullen
Preceded by
Winston Peters
Treasurer of New Zealand
1998–1999
Succeeded by
Bill English