Bolger’s faith helped him negotiate turbulent waters


Jim Bolger, former New Zealand Prime Minister, says his faith helped him negotiate his way through the turbulent waters of the 1990s.

Bolger was interviewed by Guyon Espiner as part of the RNZ series The Ninth Floor in which Espiner conducts extended interviews with former New Zealand Prime Ministers.

“That was the value system that I grew up with. And what it is – I mean the Catholic church fails many times but – it teaches a very strong message of social justice,” Bolger said.

“And if everyone was to follow the teachings of the church on social issues then we would have a much more socially just world than we have at the moment.”

Bolger admits some of the decisions he had to make, such as benefits cuts, jarred and challenged his values.

“How do you balance what is necessary against where do you share the pain,” he asked.

“You have to make those decisions with the best information you have and to the best of our judgement we made them.”

“If you went over them some of them you would probably make them differently, but that is common in all walks of life.”

Bolger said that what most people want is a sense that they are being listened to, and that their basic needs, such as housing and employment, are being provided for.

He said one of the great challenges of the measure of a society is,”How are we dealing with those less fortunate… those on the margins.”

Bolger thought that, against this measure, New Zealand would received a mixed report.

You judge a society “on whether you are building more prisons to lock people up, or whether you are building more schools or centres of learning to educate them.”

He said  three strikes and you’re out law  is “absurdity beyond belief”.


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