Peter Fraser was a New Zealand politician who served as the 24th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 27 March 1940 until 13 December 1949. Considered a major figure in the history of the New Zealand Labour Party, he was in office longer than any other Labour prime minister, is to date New Zealand's fourth-longest-serving head of government. Born and raised in the Scottish Highlands, Fraser left education early in order to support his family. While working in London in 1908, Fraser joined the Independent Labour Party, but unemployment led him to emigrate to New Zealand in 1910. On arrival in Auckland, he gained employment as a stevedore and became involved in union politics upon joining the New Zealand Socialist Party. In 1916, Fraser was involved in the foundation of the unified Labour Party, he spent one year in jail for sedition after speaking out against conscription during the First World War. In 1918, Fraser entered the House of Representatives. Fraser became a cabinet minister in 1935, he held several portfolios and had a particular interest in education, which he considered vital for social reform.
As Minister of Health, he introduced the Social Security Act 1938, which established a universal health care service. Fraser became the Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister in 1940, following Savage's death in office. Fraser is best known for leading the country during the Second World War when he mobilised New Zealand supplies and volunteers to support Britain while boosting the economy and maintaining home front morale, he formed a war cabinet. Labour suffered significant losses in the 1943. Following the war, Fraser was active in the affairs of the'new' Commonwealth and is credited with increasing New Zealand's international stature. Fraser led his party to its fourth successive election victory in 1946, albeit with a further reduced majority; the after-effects of the war, including ongoing shortages, were affecting his government's popularity. Labour lost the 1949 election and Fraser's government was succeeded by the first National Party government. A native of Scotland, Peter Fraser was born in Hill of Fearn, a small village near the town of Tain in the Highland area of Easter Ross.
He had to leave school due to his family's poor financial state. Though apprenticed to a carpenter, he abandoned this trade due to poor eyesight – in life, faced with difficulty reading official documents, he would insist on spoken reports rather than written ones. Before the deterioration of his vision, however, he read extensively – with socialist activists such as Keir Hardie and Robert Blatchford among his favourites. Becoming politically active in his early teens, he was 16 years old upon attaining the post of secretary of the local Liberal Association, eight years in 1908, joined the Independent Labour Party. In another two years, at the age of 26, after unsuccessfully seeking employment in London, Fraser decided to move to New Zealand, having chosen the country in the belief that it possessed a strong progressive spirit, he gained employment as a stevedore on arrival in Auckland, became involved in union politics upon joining the New Zealand Socialist Party. Fraser worked as campaign manager for Michael Joseph Savage as the Socialist candidate for Auckland Central electorate.
He was involved in the New Zealand Federation of Labour, which he represented at Waihi during the Waihi miners' strike of 1912. He moved to the country's capital shortly afterwards. Savage went on to be Fraser's predecessor in office as the nation's first Labour Prime Minister. In 1913, he participated in the founding of the Social Democratic Party and, during the year, within the scope of his union activities, found himself under arrest for breaches of the peace. While the arrest led to no serious repercussions, it did prompt a change of strategy – he moved away from direct action and began to promote a parliamentary route to power. Upon Britain's entry into the First World War, he opposed New Zealand participation since, sharing the belief of many leftist thinkers, Fraser considered the conflict an "imperialist war", fought for reasons of national interest rather than of principle. In 1916, Fraser became involved in the foundation of the New Zealand Labour Party, which absorbed much of the moribund Social Democratic Party's membership.
The members selected Harry Holland as the Labour Party's leader. Michael Joseph Savage, Fraser's old ally from the New Zealand Socialist Party participated. In 1916, the government had Fraser and several other members of the new Labour Party arrested on charges of sedition; this resulted from their outspoken opposition to the war, their call to abolish conscription. Fraser received a sentence of one year in jail, he always rejected the verdict, claiming he would only have committed subversion had he taken active steps to undermine conscription, rather than voicing his disapproval. After his release from prison, Fraser worked as a journalist for the official Labour Party newspaper, he resumed his activities within the Labour Party in the role of campaign manager for Harry Holland. In 1919 Fraser stood on the Labour Party's ticket for the Wellington City Council, he and three others were first Labour candidates to win office on the council since before the war. Fraser led a movement on the council to establish a municipal milk distribution department in Wellington, to remain in operation until the 1990s.
He was re-elected in 1921. In 1923 Fraser stood for Mayor o
Sir Simon William English is a retired New Zealand politician who served as the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2016 to 2017. He was the leader of the National Party from 2001 to 2003 and 2016 to 2018 serving two terms as Leader of the Opposition. A farmer and public servant before entering politics, English was elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1990 as the National Party's candidate in the Wallace electorate, he was elevated to Cabinet in 1996 and in 1999 was made Minister of Finance, although he served for less than a year due to his party's worst loss at the 1999 general election. In October 2001, English replaced Jenny Shipley as the leader of the National Party, he led the party to its worst defeat in the 2002 general election, as a consequence, in October 2003 he was replaced as leader by Don Brash. In November 2006, after Brash's resignation, English became deputy leader under John Key. After National's victory at the 2008 general election, he became Deputy Prime Minister and was made Minister for Finance for the second time.
Under English's direction New Zealand's economy maintained steady growth during National's three terms of government. He became a list-only MP after stepping down as an electorate MP at the 2014 general election. John Key resigned as leader of the National Party and prime minister in December 2016. English won the resulting leadership election unopposed and was sworn in as prime minister on 12 December 2016. In the 2017 general election, National fell short of a majority; the parties holding the balance of power declined to support the existing government, English was subsequently replaced as prime minister by Jacinda Ardern, leader of the Labour Party. English continued on as Leader of the Opposition, but resigned as leader of the National Party on 27 February 2018 and left parliament two weeks later. English is the second-youngest of twelve children of Norah English, his parents purchased Rosedale, a mixed sheep and cropping farm in Dipton, Southland from Mervyn's uncle, Vincent English, a bachelor, in 1944.
English was born in the nearby town of Lumsden. English attended St Thomas's School in Winton boarded at St. Patrick's College in Upper Hutt, where he became head boy, he played in the first XV of the school's rugby team. English went on to study commerce at the University of Otago, where he was a resident at Selwyn College, completed an honours degree in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington. After finishing his studies, English farmed for a few years. From 1987 to 1989, he worked in Wellington as a policy analyst for the New Zealand Treasury, at a time when the free market policies favoured by Labour's finance minister Roger Douglas were being implemented. English joined the National Party in 1980, he served for a period as chairman of the Southland branch of the Young Nationals, became a member of the Wallace electorate committee. After moving to Wellington, he served for periods on the Island Bay and Miramar electorate committees, respectively. At the 1990 general election, English stood as the National candidate in Wallace, replacing the retiring Derek Angus, was elected with a large majority.
He and three other newly elected National MPs were soon identified as rising stars in New Zealand politics, at various points were dubbed the "brat pack", the "gang of four", the "Young Turks". In his first term in parliament, English chaired a select committee into social services, he was made a parliamentary under-secretary in 1993. In early 1996, English was elevated to cabinet by Prime Minister Jim Bolger, becoming the Minister for Crown Health Enterprises and Associate Minister of Education, he was 34 at the time. After the 1996 general election, the National Party was forced into a coalition with New Zealand First to retain government. In the resulting cabinet reshuffle, English emerged as Minister of Health. However, as a condition of the coalition agreement, NZ First's Neil Kirton was made Associate Minister of Health becoming English's deputy; this arrangement was described in the press as a "shotgun marriage", there were frequent differences of opinion between the two ministers. After their relationship became unworkable, Kirton was sacked from the role in August 1997, with the agreement of NZ First leader Winston Peters.
As Minister of Health, English was responsible for continuing the reforms to the public health system that National had begun after the 1990 general election. The reforms were unpopular, health was perceived as one of the government's weaknesses, with the health portfolio being viewed as a challenge. English believed that the unpopularity of the reforms was in part due to a failure in messaging, encouraged his National colleagues to avoid bureaucratic and money-focused language and instead talk about the improvements to services the government's reforms would bring, he rejected the idea that public hospitals could be run as commercial enterprises, a view which some of his colleagues had promoted. By early 1997, as dissatisfaction with Bolger's leadership began to grow, English was being touted as a potential successor, along with Jenny Shipley and Doug Graham, his age was viewed as the main impediment to a successful leadership run. National's leadership troubles were resolved in December 1997, when Bolger resigned and Shipley was elected to the le
Leader of the Opposition (New Zealand)
In New Zealand, the Leader of the Opposition is the politician who commands the support of the Official Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition by convention leads the largest party not supporting the government: this is the parliamentary leader of the second largest caucus in the House of Representatives. In the debating chamber the Leader of the Opposition sits directly opposite the Prime Minister; the Leader of the Opposition is elected by her party according to its rules. A new leader may be elected when the incumbent resigns, or is challenged for the leadership; the current Leader of the Opposition is Simon Bridges, elected by the National Party caucus on 27 February 2018. New Zealand has a parliamentary system based on the Westminster model; the term "Opposition" has a specific meaning in the parliamentary sense. The Leader of the Opposition leads a Shadow Cabinet, which scrutinises the actions of the Cabinet led by the Prime Minister; the Opposition leader may be viewed as an alternative prime minister.
There are several ways in which the Leader of the Opposition participates directly in affairs of state. These relate to national security matters, which are supposed to transcend party politics – the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, for example, is required to brief the Leader of the Opposition as well as the Prime Minister on certain matters; the leader of the Opposition receives a higher salary than other members of the Opposition, being paid the same amount as a Cabinet Minister. As at 2016 the Leader of the Opposition's salary is NZ$288,900. In addition, like all other members of parliament, the Leader of the Opposition receives annual allowances for travel and lodging. For much of the country's early history, the role was not a formal one. For most of the 19th century, there was any one person who could be considered Leader of the Opposition – those figures who took leading roles in opposing the government of the day were "first among equals", had no formal office, it was only when the Liberal Party was formed that any unified leadership appeared in Parliament, the role of Leader of the Opposition is traced from this point.
John Ballance, leader of the Liberals is considered the first Leader of the Opposition in the modern sense. When Ballance led the Liberals into government in 1891, they faced no formal opposition in a party sense, though certain MPs were styled Leader of the Opposition. However, their opponents coalesced around a leader, William Massey, who became Opposition leader in 1903, in 1909 became the first leader of the new Reform Party. After this, the Leader of the Opposition would always be the parliamentary leader of the largest party in the House of Representatives that had not undertaken to support the Government of the day. One notable exception to this was during World War I, when the opposition Liberal Party accepted the governing Reform Party's offer to form a wartime coalition. Prime Minister Massey extended the offer to the new Labour Party who rejected it; this made Labour the largest party not in government, however their leader Alfred Hindmarsh was not recognised as the Leader of the Opposition.
Joseph Ward, who became Deputy Prime Minister in the wartime cabinet still retained the title, albeit in name only. During the 1910s and 1920s, the role of Opposition alternated between the Liberal and Reform parties. However, the rise of the Labour Party in the 1920s, together with a gradual weakening in support for the Liberals, led to a three-party situation by the mid-1920s, with the Labour and Liberal parties having a similar number of seats. After the 1925 Election there was no official Leader of the Opposition until Rex Mason of Labour won the seat of Eden in the by-election held on 15 April 1926. Labour superseded the Liberals as the official opposition and their leader Harry Holland became Leader of the Opposition; the 1928 general election put the United Party in government for the last time. Reform became the Opposition, however in 1931 Reform entered into coalition with the Liberals, Labour became the Opposition, despite being the third party; the unity of the Coalition, culminating in the formation of the National Party in 1936, created a stable two-party system, with National and Labour alternating between Government and Opposition for much of the remainder of the century.
With the introduction of the MMP voting system, first used in the 1996 general election, the nature of opposition has changed. Now, though the leader of the largest non-Government party still becomes the Leader of the Opposition, there will be several parties who are "in opposition". An example of this arose after the 2002 general election, when the National Party gained only 27 seats, less than half the 58 seats held by opposition parties; this prompted calls from a number of parties, notably New Zealand First and the Greens, for the abolition or reform of the post. It was argued by these parties that the position had become an "anachronism" in the modern multi-party environment, that the days of a united opposition bloc were gone. However, with the revival of the National Party in the 2005 general election, a more traditional relationship between Government and Opposition has been restored. According to Parliamentary Services, the Leader of the Opposition represents and speaks for all parties that are outside Government.
A table of Leaders of the Opposition is below. Those who served as Prime Minister, either before or after being Leader of the Opposition, are indicated. 1 From 4 August 1915 to 21 August 1919, the Reform Pa
Sir Robert David Muldoon known as Rob Muldoon, was a New Zealand politician who served as the 31st Prime Minister of New Zealand, from 1975 to 1984, while Leader of the National Party. Serving as a corporal and sergeant in the army in the Second World War, Muldoon completed his training as an accountant and returned to New Zealand as its first qualified cost accountant, he was first elected to the House of Representatives at the 1960 general election as the Member of Parliament for Tamaki. Muldoon served successively as Minister of Tourism, Minister of Finance, Deputy Prime Minister, he became Leader of the Opposition in 1974 and soon led the National Party to a decisive victory in the 1975 general election. Muldoon came to power promising to lead "a Government of the ordinary bloke." He appointed himself Minister of Finance. His tenure as Prime Minister was plagued by an economic pattern of stagnation, high inflation, growing unemployment, high external debts and borrowing. Economic policies of the Muldoon Government included national superannuation and price freezes, industrial incentives, the'Think Big' industrial projects.
In foreign policy, Muldoon adopted an anti-Soviet stance, re-emphasised New Zealand's defence commitments to the United States and Australia under the ANZUS pact. His refusal to stop a Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand divided the country and led to unprecedented civil disorder in 1981. Muldoon led his party to two additional election victories in 1978 and 1981, he called a snap election in 1984. Shortly before leaving office, amid a constitutional crisis, Muldoon was forced by the incoming Government to devalue the New Zealand dollar. In 1984, he was only the second Prime Minister. Muldoon was a polarising figure and has been variously described as a "bully", an "enigma," and "a strong believer in the battler, the little man, the ordinary citizen and his or her rights." Robert David Muldoon was born in Auckland on 25 September 1921 to parents James Henry Muldoon and Amie Rusha Muldoon. At the age of five Muldoon slipped while playing on the front gate, damaging his cheek and resulting in a distinctive scar.
When Muldoon was aged eight, his father was admitted to Auckland Mental Hospital at Point Chevalier, where he died nearly 20 years in 1946. This left Muldoon's mother to raise him on her own. During this time Muldoon came under the strong formative influence of his fiercely intelligent, iron-willed maternal grandmother Jerusha, a committed socialist. Though Muldoon never accepted her creed, he did develop under her influence a potent ambition, a consuming interest in politics, an abiding respect for New Zealand's welfare state. Muldoon won a scholarship to attend Mount Albert Grammar School from 1933 to 1936, he left school at age 15, finding work at Fletcher Construction and the Auckland Electric Power Board as an arrears clerk. He studied accountancy by correspondence. In 1951 Muldoon married Thea Dale Flyger; the couple had three children, Barbara and Gavin. Lady Muldoon, who died at age 87 in 2015, was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1993 New Year Honours and awarded the Queen's Service Order in the 1986 New Year Honours.
Muldoon joined the New Zealand Army in November 1940 during the Second World War, served in the South Pacific and in Italy. While in Italy he served in the same battalion as two other future National Party colleagues, Duncan MacIntyre and Jack Marshall, he completed his training as an accountant, sitting his final exams to become an accountant while in Italy, from Jack Marshall's tent. He returned to New Zealand after the war as the country's first qualified cost accountant, having worked in a chartered accountancy firm in the United Kingdom for a year. In March 1947 Muldoon joined the newly founded Mount Albert branch of the Junior Nationals, the youth wing of the conservative New Zealand National Party, he became active in the party, making two sacrificial-lamb bids for Parliament against entrenched but vulnerable Labour incumbents in 1954 and 1957. But in 1960 he won election as MP for the suburban Auckland electorate of Tamaki, winning against Bob Tizard, who had taken the former National seat in 1957.
In 1960, an electoral swing brought Keith Holyoake back to power as Prime Minister of the Second National Government. Muldoon would represent the Tamaki constituency for the next 32 years. Muldoon, along with Duncan MacIntyre and Peter Gordon who entered parliament in the same year, became known as the "Young Turks" because of their criticism of the party's senior leadership. From his early years as a Member of Parliament, Muldoon became known as Piggy. Muldoon himself seemed to relish his controversial public profile. Muldoon opposed both capital punishment. In 1961 he was one of ten National MPs to cross the floor and vote with the Opposition to remove capital punishment for murder from the Crimes Bill that the Second National Government had introduced. In 1977 he voted against the Contraception and Abortion Act 1977 when the issue came up as a conscience vote. Muldoon was appointed in 1961 to the Public Accounts Committee, which in 1962 became the Public Expenditure Committee, he was well informed on all aspects of the government, could participate in many debates in Parliament.
Muldoon displayed a flair for a diligence in his backbench work. Following the re-election of Holyo
Simon Joseph Bridges is a New Zealand politician and lawyer who has served as the Leader of the New Zealand National Party and Leader of the Opposition since 27 February 2018. He has been the Member of Parliament for Tauranga since the 2008 election. A self-described "compassionate conservative", Bridges has served in several Cabinet portfolios, including those of Minister of Transport and Minister of Economic Development, he took the role of Leader of the House from May to October 2017. He is the first person with Māori ancestry to serve as leader of the National Party, the first to lead a major party in New Zealand. Simon Bridges was born in October 1976 in the youngest of six children, his father of Māori and Pākehā descent was a Baptist minister and his mother of Pākehā descent from Waihi was a primary school teacher. His father Heath's mother, Naku Joseph, was a member of Ngāti Kinohaku, a hapū of the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe, associated with Oparure Marae near Te Kuiti, through which Bridges has family connections to former Labour Cabinet Minister Koro Wētere.
Bridges grew up in Te Atatu, West Auckland, attended Rutherford College. There, he was taught by future Labour Education Minister Chris Carter, became head boy of the college, he went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history, a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Auckland. Bridges began his legal career as a litigation lawyer in Kensington Swan, he moved to Tauranga in 2001 to take up a position as a Crown prosecutor in the District and High Courts. During this time, he took leave to travel to the United Kingdom to study at the London School of Economics, to complete a postgraduate law degree at St Catherine's College, Oxford; as a Crown prosecutor in Tauranga, Bridges worked on jury trials. Bridges ended his legal career in 2008, when he was nominated by the National Party to stand for election to the New Zealand Parliament. Bridges became a member of the Young Nationals in 1992 at the age of 16 and was elected Deputy New Zealand Chair in 1997, he was active in National's West Auckland organisation as a member of MP Brian Neeson's electorate team.
Bridges supported Neeson against a challenge by John Key for the National Party candidacy to contest the new seat of Helensville at the 2002 general election. In the following years, Bridges held several senior positions within the party, including sitting on the party's rules committee and serving as chairperson of the Tauranga National Party branch. In 2008 the incumbent National MP for Tauranga Bob Clarkson announced his intention not to stand for re-election. Bridges announced his candidacy for the party's selection to stand in the electorate, he resigned from his roles within the party. In June 2008 Bridges was selected as the party's candidate for the Tauranga electorate, he was placed at No. 51 on National's party list. Several opinion polls during the campaign suggested Bridges was to win the seat by a large margin. Bridges won the seat with a majority of 11,742 votes, against a field of 11 candidates, including New Zealand First leader Winston Peters; as New Zealand First did not meet the 5% party vote threshold nationally, it was reliant on at least one candidate winning an electorate seat in order to be represented in Parliament, Winston Peters' Tauranga candidacy had been its best chance that year.
Bridges sponsored a Private Member's Bill to increase penalties for animal cruelty, drawn from the ballot in early 2010. After passing its first reading, the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill was adopted by the Minister of Agriculture David Carter as a Government Bill and was passed into law. Bridges was re-elected in the 2011 election. In April 2012, Prime Minister John Key appointed Bridges as a Minister outside Cabinet, as Minister for Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Transport, Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues. In January 2013 Bridges moved into the Cabinet and became Minister of Labour and Minister of Energy and Resources, he continued to be Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues. He was no longer Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Transport. Bridges made regular appearances on TVNZ's Breakfast programme as part of the "Young Guns" feature, in which he appeared alongside Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. In April 2013 Bridges voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill, a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand.
In October 2013, during a TV interview on Campbell Live and presenter John Campbell became engaged in a heated discussion about the benefits and risks of offshore oil drilling. In April 2014, environmental activist group Greenpeace launched a campaign calling for Bridges to be removed as Energy and Resources Minister over an allegation he approved potential oil and gas exploration in Victoria Forest Park, West Coast, but said he was unaware of having given the approval. Opponents perceived that Bridges had wrongly approved the exploration in a sensitive area, however this was denied by Bridges and Prime Minister John Key. A by-election was held in the Northland electorate on 28 March 2015. On 9 March, the National party candidate Mark Osborne announced with Bridges that National pledged to upgrade 10 one lane bridges in the region at a cost of up to $69 million. Opponents criticised the government for using its advantage inappropriately in the Northland by-election campaign since it was revealed that Bridges had asked officials for information on the 10 one lane bridges days before the announcement.
However, Prime Minister John Key defended the request on the gro
2018 New Zealand National Party leadership election
The 2018 New Zealand National Party leadership election was held on 27 February 2018 to determine the 12th Leader of the National Party. On 13 February 2018, Bill English announced his resignation as leader of the National Party, effective on 27 February 2018, he left Parliament on 13 March 2018. On 20 February, Deputy Leader Paula Bennett announced that a concurrent deputy leadership election would take place, in which she would stand. After a secret caucus ballot Simon Bridges was declared the new leader of the National Party and Paula Bennett was re-elected as deputy; the Fifth National Government of New Zealand came to an end after the 2017 general election saw the National Party win 44% of the vote and Labour and New Zealand First form the minority Sixth Labour Government with confidence and supply from the Green Party. On 13 February 2018 Bill English, the leader of the National Party and Prime Minister from 2016 to 2017, announced his resignation as party leader effective on 27 February, as a Member of Parliament effective on 13 March.
Deputy leader Paula Bennett asked National senior whip Jami-Lee Ross for her role to be put up for election, but she would run to keep the position. No other candidate declared an intention to run for the deputy leadership before 27 February. At the time of the election, the following individuals were candidates: The following individuals were speculated as being possible leadership candidates, but ruled out a bid: Maggie Barry, MP for North Shore since 2011 Paula Bennett, MP for Upper Harbour since 2014, Deputy Leader of the National Party Jonathan Coleman, MP for Northcote since 2005 Nathan Guy, MP for Ōtaki since 2005 Nikki Kaye, MP for Auckland Central since 2008 Todd McClay, MP for Rotorua since 2008 Todd Muller, MP for Bay of Plenty since 2014 The election was conducted as a secret ballot of the National Party parliamentary caucus. An exhaustive ballot method was used, so that the support of 29 of the 56 MPs were required to elect the leader. Bridges was elected party leader after two rounds of voting.
Bennett and Collins ran for the deputy leadership, Bennett was re-elected to the position. On 6 March Joyce announced his retirement from politics following speculation he would lose the finance portfolio. Joyce said Bridges offered him a "high-ranking" portfolio. On 11 March Bridges announced his shadow cabinet which saw Adams and Mitchell receive promotions. Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand female co-leadership election, 2018 52nd New Zealand Parliament
Geoffrey Palmer (politician)
Sir Geoffrey Winston Russell Palmer is a New Zealand lawyer, legal academic, past politician, a member of Parliament from 1979 to 1990. He served as the 33rd Prime Minister of New Zealand for a little over a year, from August 1989 until September 1990, leading the Fourth Labour Government; as Minister of Justice from 1984 to 1989, Palmer was responsible for considerable reforms of the country's legal and constitutional framework, such as the creation of the Constitution Act 1986, New Zealand Bill of Rights, Imperial Laws Application Act, the State Sector Act. He served as president of the New Zealand Law Commission, from 2005 to 2010. Palmer was born in Nelson and attended Nelson Central School, Nelson Intermediate School and Nelson College. At Victoria University of Wellington, he studied both political law, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1965. After working for a time in Wellington, he attended the University of Chicago's law school, gaining a Juris Doctor in 1967.
He taught for a time at the University of Iowa and the University of Virginia, undertook consultancy work for the Australian government. In 1974, he was appointed to a professorship of law at Victoria University of Wellington, bringing him back to New Zealand. At the 1975 general election, Palmer took part in the "Citizens for Rowling" campaign. In a 1979 by-election, Palmer was elected to Parliament as the member for Christchurch Central, having stood as the Labour Party candidate, he became deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1983. When, in 1984, the Labour Party won the general elections, Palmer became Deputy Prime Minister of the Fourth Labour Government, he became Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. The new justice minister, who had promoted proportional representation as a law professor in his book Unbridled Power? published in 1984, set up a Royal Commission to investigate the electoral system and propose modifications or alternatives. His Royal Commission reported in December 1986.
After the 1987 elections, when Labour was re-elected, he became Minister of the Environment, an area in which he took personal interest. The most notable feature of New Zealand politics at the time was the economic change promoted by the Finance Minister, Roger Douglas. Douglas was advancing monetarist policies involving extensive privatisation of state assets and the removal of tariffs and subsidies—these reforms were named "Rogernomics"; these policies, which contravened Labour's basic policy platform and campaign promises, were unpopular with Labour's traditional support base, resulted in a confrontation between Prime Minister David Lange and Roger Douglas. Lange reneged from his promise to hold a binding referendum on the MMP system. Palmer conceded defeat on MMP at an April 1989 Labour regional conference, saying that the issue was "effectively dead for the immediate future." Douglas was removed from Cabinet, but the dispute had weakened Lange enough that he resigned a month later. Palmer, being deputy leader, took over as Prime Minister.
Electoral reformers in the Labour Party kept up the pressure, in September 1989, after Palmer had become prime minister, the full annual conference of the Labour Party passed a remit endorsing a referendum on the principle of proportional representation. Palmer, was perceived by the public as being too involved with Douglas's reforms and academically remote. Of particular concern to many people was his work on the legal aspects of state sector rearrangement, such as his preparation of the State Owned Enterprises Act; the presence of David Caygill as Minister of Finance further compounded perception that Palmer was doing nothing to address public concerns. The only area in which Palmer won praise from traditional left-wing supporters was in his handling of the Environment portfolio, which he kept when he became Prime Minister – it was his work here in initiating the resource management law reform process that led to the creation of the Resource Management Act 1991. Two months before the 1990 elections, it was clear.
The perceived damage done by Roger Douglas's reforms, as well as Palmer's lack of general charisma, caused too many Labour supporters to abandon the party. In addition, Palmer was perceived as being too academic and aloof, reminding people of the paternalistic attitude that Douglas was accused of. Palmer was replaced by Mike Moore. Palmer chose to resign from parliament, was replaced in his seat by Lianne Dalziel; the attempt failed and the opposition National Party under Jim Bolger won a landslide victory. Geoffrey Palmer became the second Labour leader to leave the party leadership without leading the party into an election after Alfred Hindmarsh. Palmer went on to serve as Professor of Law at Victoria University again, he held a position as Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, worked for a time as a law consultant. The MMP system which he had helped promote was adopted in a 1993 referendum. In 1994, he established Chen Palmer & Partners, a specialist public law firm he began with Wellington lawyer Mai Chen.
In September 2001 Palmer became a founding trustee of Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and in December 2002 was appointed to be New Zealand's representative to the International Whaling Commission. Palmer continued his involvement with, teaching at Victoria University of Wellington and was engaged as an expert consultant on public and constitutional law issues, his son Matthew Palmer was a prominent legal academic and public servant, has been a