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Robert Muldoon

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robertmuldoon7New Zealand National Party right-of-centre politician and NZ prime minister from 1975 to 1984.

Nicknamed “”Piggy” Muldoon” by his detractors, he pursued austere economic policies such as a wage-and-price policy to control inflation, sought to introduce curbs on trade unions, was a vigorous supporter of the Western alliance, and was a proponent of reform of the international monetary system.

Born in Auckland, he fought in World War II as an infantry soldier in the Pacific and Italy and worked after the war as a cost accountant.

He joined the conservative National Party in 1947 and was first elected to the house of representatives in 1960, for Tamaki district. He served as finance minister in the National Party government of Keith Holyoake between 1967 and 1972.

In 1974 he became leader of the National Party, replacing John Marshall, who had been criticised for being insufficiently aggressive in opposition. Muldoon led the party to a decisive electoral victory in 1975 and was re-elected, with smaller majorities, in 1978 and 1981.

A traditionalist and somewhat authoritarian conservative, Muldoon sought to maintain close links with the UK and the USA, gave state assistance to farmers and industrialists, and promoted traditional social values.

He came into conflict with feminists, Maori rights campaigners, and anti-nuclear campaigners, who sought to prevent US nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships visiting New Zealand harbours.

With the economy deteriorating, he was defeated in the general election of 1984 by the Labour Party, led by David Lange.

He stood down as National Party leader in 1984 and was knighted, but was to remain shadow foreign affairs spokesperson.

Although he remained iconic to particular segments of society (particularly the elderly) Muldoon faded quickly as a force on the political scene. He retired from politics in December 1991 and fell seriously ill almost immediately.

He died in hospital on 5 August 1992, aged 70.

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