The other Michael Moore
has a life that mirrors what the author of Downsize This
experienced in Flint
, but the outcomes between the two have been considerably antithetical. They would have produced a good fight in Celebrity Deathmatch
This Michael Moore was born in 1949 in a New Zealand village called Whakatane. Raised in a working class household, he left school at the age of fifteen to become a labourer. Other career paths he sampled included being a meat worker, a social worker and a printer. Eventually he found his passion in politics. An eager trade unionist, he was elected to the Auckland Trades Council at the age of 17, and later became the first youth representative for the centre-left Labour Party.
His first break in politics came in 1972 when he successfully was elected member of parliament for Eden. He lost this seat three years later, but he then moved to Christchurch and won another. In 1984 the Labour Party under Prime Minister David Lange won government, and he was appointed to be Minister for Trade, sport, tourism and believe it or not it deserved its own ministry the Minister for the America's Cup. In 1987 he became deputy External Affairs Minister, and the following year, Minister for Finance.
During the time as Trade Minister he personally became heavily involved in GATT negotiations, particuarly the Uruguay Round. He secured a free trade deal with Australia, and promoted a trade pact with several South Pacific microstates who needed access to the New Zealand market. Despite being a progressive party that was famous for granting financial reparations to Maoris and banning nuclear armed/powered vessels from using its ports, David Lange's government was quite ambitious in deregulating the economy, tightening monetary policy, eliminating agricultural subsidies and controls on wages and prices, lowered the tax rate and initiated privatisation. This was an era in which New Zealand, a struggling Western economy traditionally based on butter, wool and expatriates, was beginning to see the advantages of an open economic system.
The 1987 crash caused a recession in New Zealand, adding to the misery of people who were not the beneficiaries of economic reform. Prime Minister David Lange resigned in 1989 and Michael Moore became Prime Minister for two months before the Labour Party was hounded out of office in 1990. He then spent the following three years as Leader of the Opposition, before resigning this position to Helen Clark after failing to win the 1993 election.
With an interest in trade, he and his country lobbied hard and eventually was appointed Director General of the World Trade Organisation in 1999. In this time he managed to refocus the direction of the World Trade Organisation, demoralised after dreams of a new round of trade liberalisation were left smashed in the streets of Seattle. He organised the slightly more successful Doha round in 2001, which this time involved a reformed framework for negotiating trade, including seven negotiating group structures to discuss agriculture, services, industrial products, WTO rules, dispute settlement, a geographical indications register for wine and spirits, and trade and the environment. The World Trade Organisation also went out of its way to sell the advantages of trade liberalisation to the public.
However as a comprimise to win backing from member governments for his appointment, he was forced to cut his term from six to three years, with Thai candidate Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi taking over in 2002.
He has written the following books:
A Pacific Parliament
The Added Value Economy
Fighting for New Zealand
Children of the Poor
A Brief History of the Future