Lange, David Russell
New Zealand Labour centre-left politician, prime minister 1983-89. A skilled parliamentary debater, he became Labour's deputy leader in 1979, and in 1983 replaced Wallace Rowling as party leader. Taking advantage of economic difficulties and a changing public mood, Lange led Labour to a decisive win in the 1984 general election, replacing Robert Muldoon of the National Party as prime minister. The centre-piece of his policy programme was non-nuclear military policy. This was put into effect, despite criticism from the USA, becoming law in 1987. It prevented US nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships visiting New Zealand's ports and resulted in the USA suspending its defence obligations to New Zealand under the ANZUS treaty. Lange's government also introduced a free-market economic policy, which was a significant and controversial departure for Labour, and improved Maori rights and the position of women. His government was re-elected in 1987, but in August 1989 Lange unexpectedly resigned, as a result of health problems but also pressure being exerted by supporters of the right-wing former finance minister, Roger Douglas. Lange, who had become a critic of Douglas' liberalizing policies, had dismissed Douglas in 1988. Lange was replaced as prime minister by Geoffrey Palmer and served under him as attorney general until 1990.
Born near Auckland, he trained and worked as a barrister, specializing in representing the underprivileged. A member of the Labour Party, he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1977, for Mangere district, a working-class suburb of Auckland.
We're sorry this article wasn't helpful. Tell us how we can improve.