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David Lange

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David Lange attends the opening of an envelope post office, 1980s.

David Russell Lange (pronounced LONG-ee) was New Zealand Prime Minister between 1984 and 1989. Although he ushered in a new free market economic ideology (odd for a Labour party politician) that has had far reaching effects on New Zealand society, he is best known for his anti-nuclear policy.

Under Lange, New Zealand refused to allow US warships to enter because it didn't want nuclear weapons in the country. New Zealand pulled out of ANZUS (the alliance between Australia, NZ, and the US), and began a bitter cold war against the Americans. (Well we didn't invite their ambassador for drinks at parliament, and Reagan said we were "batshit crazy" [paraphrasing]).

He was also famous for debating famous American spokesperson (now who's batshit crazy?) Jerry Falwell in the Oxford union debate on the point that nuclear weapons should be outlawed. It is generally agreed that Lange won and that Falwell was left in a blithering mess. The most famous quote to come out of the debate was Lange's comment toward someone who'd asked him to clear up an answer he'd given, to which he replied, "And I'm gonna give it to you if you just hold your breath. I can smell the uranium on it as you lean toward me". Lange's wit and delivery of the line caused even the questioner to laugh.

Sadly, Lange died in 2005.