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Second Labour Government of New Zealand: Wikis


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The Second Labour Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1957 to 1960. It was most notable for raising taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and petrol, a move which was probably responsible for the government lasting for only one term.


Significant policies



  • Passed the 'Black Budget', which raised taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, automobiles, and petrol.
  • Signed a formal agreement for Consolidated Zinc to build both an aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point and a power station in Manapouri.
  • All tax-payers given a flat-rate rebate of £100 at the commencement of the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) income tax system.

Treaty of Waitangi

  • Declared Waitangi Day to be a 'national day of thanksgiving' through the Waitangi Day Act 1960, but did not make the day a public holiday.



The main issue at the 1957 election was the introduction of PAYE income tax. Both parties had promised rebates at the change-over between the old and new systems, and Labour won favour by proposing a simple £100 rebate per taxpayer. National denounced this as a bribe, but it seems to have been popular. Another issue was that of compulsory military training. This had been introduced as a Cold War measure, but Labour now argued it was unnecessary. Labour was led by Walter Nash, who had been Finance Minister of the first Labour government. He faced National leader Keith Holyoake, who had recently taken over the Prime Ministership from Sidney Holland and had not yet settled into his role. Labour won 48.3% of the popular vote, 4% more than National, but only two more seats.


Labour's biggest problem in the 1960 election was the 'Black Budget' of 1958. This negated the popularity of the tax rebate; cartoonists depicted Nash handing out money and Finance Minister Arnold Nordmeyer taking it back. In addition, Nash seemed old and out of touch compared to the much younger Holyoake, who had by this time acquired the leadership skills which would see him become one of New Zealand's longest-serving Prime Ministers. Although National's lead over Labour in the popular vote was the same as Labour's lead over National in 1957, it was distributed in such a way that National had a majority of 12, compared to Labour's majority of two in 1957. This was and would continue to be a perennial problem for Labour under First Past the Post - its voters tended to be concentrated in a few electorates, whereas National's were more spread out, enabling National to consistently take a disproportionate number of seats.

Electoral results

Election Parliament Seats Total votes Percentage Gain (loss) Seats won Change Majority
1957 32nd 80 1,257,365 48.3% +4.2% 41 +6 2
1960 33rd 80 1,170,503 43.4% -4.9% 34 -7 -

Prime ministers

Walter Nash was Prime Minister for the full term of this government, from 12 December 1957 to 12 December 1960.

Cabinet Ministers

Ministry Minister Term(s)
Deputy Prime Minister Clarence Skinner 1957 - 1960
Attorney-General Rex Mason 1957 - 1960
Minister of Defence Philip Connolly 1957 - 1960
Minister of Education Philip Skoglund 1957 - 1960
Minister of Finance Arnold Nordmeyer 1957 - 1960
Minister of Foreign Affairs Walter Nash 1957 - 1960
Minister of Health Rex Mason 1957 - 1960
Minister of Internal Affairs Bill Anderton 1957 - 1960
Minister of Justice Rex Mason 1957 - 1960
Minister of Labour Frederick Hackett 1957 - 1960
Minister of Māori Affairs Walter Nash 1957 - 1960
Minister of Railways Michael Moohan 1957 - 1960


See also


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