Burdon: A Man of Our Time
It would be easy to make assumptions about someone like Philip Burdon. The product of a long line of landed gentry going back to the fourteenth century, and of well-heeled pilgrims on Canterbury's First Four Ships, brought up and educated as one of South Canterbury's privileged landowners, a distinguished old boy of Christ's College - and a self-made multimillionaire to boot. Burdon might appear to be the archetypal New Zealand Anglocentric conservative. The truth is very different. This man is also a passionate republican, a businessman with an acute social conscience, a liberal politician who fought relentlessly against the right-wing ideologues of his own National Party, and not only slowed their extremist free-market reforms but convinced his caucus that this philosophy must wear a human face. As Minister of Trade Negotiations, he steered New Zealand through the labyrinth of GATT reforms that made up the Uruguay Round, oversaw a tremendous expansion of New Zealand's trading links into the Middle East, Asia and south and Central America, and championed the cause of regional economic development in the Pacific-Asia area. And, especially through the Asia 2000 Foundation, he has striven for multi-racial harmony and to encourage New Zealand's Asian community to take a full part in this country's public affairs. But this is much more than the biography of a complex and interesting man. Critically acclaimed historian Edmund Bohan has also created a fascinating, lively and important portrait of an extraordinary period in New Zealand's history.
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