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Shipley Offered Colleagues Advice On STDs - Cable

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Jenny Shipley
Jenny Shipley

Wellington, Dec 19 NZPA - Former prime minister Jenny Shipley embarrassed her colleagues by offering to educate them how to examine themselves for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to a leaked cable from the United States Embassy in Wellington.

The classified cable, written by former United States ambassador, Josiah Beeman, said that while Mrs Shipley was "conservative and centre-right" economically, her liberal leanings on social issues occasionally angered her National party colleagues.

Mr Beeman describes Mrs Shipley as being her own person saying "it would be a mistake to reduce Shipley to a [Ruth] Richardson-clone, a Thatcher-clone or [Jim] Bolger in a frock".

The biography, which is part of the vast collection of secret WikiLeaks cables, was sent on December 22, 1997, two weeks after Mrs Shipley ousted Mr Bolger to become New Zealand's first woman Prime Minster.

Mrs Shipley is praised as a "hard-working politician, ruthless or pragmatic as needed" who was "well-disposed" towards the United States.

She was an "astute politician" who believed in less government and individual empowerment.

However, it said colleagues were at times angered by her "liberal leanings on social issues" such as birth control, sex education, women's issues and gay rights.

During an unspecified caucus meeting her "embarrassed" colleagues denied an offer to educate them on how to examine themselves for STDs, the cable said.

It also said Mrs Shipley had "warm feelings" towards the US but was "her own person" and took "positions that are in her own perceived" interest.

The cable describes how she did not oppose National's adoption of Labour's anti-nuclear policy in the run up to the 1990 election and how in "the wake of her first foreign interview after becoming party leader, Shipley took to the floor of parliament to refute a Sydney Morning Herald article that stated she would reconsider NZ's anti-nuclear policy under certain circumstances".

The cable goes through her upbringing and life before becoming a politician and her meteoric rise through the National Party, first becoming an MP in 1987, aged 35.

It describes how the complicated pregnancy of her second child Ben in 1978, and her resulting post-partum depression, led her to realise she needed a change, sparking her to become more involved in politics.

Once in Parliament her hardworking and pragmatic approach led to a fast rise through the National Party ranks and once in government in 1990, she "introduced sweeping reforms in social welfare and health" gaining both "public's wrath, but also the respect of her parliamentary colleagues."

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