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June 16, 2008 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Oh now he’s Dunne it.

Peter Dunne was interviewed by scoop’s political editor, and former listener journalist Gordon Campbell. Campbell is obviously no friend of Dunne, his intro to the piece is scathing. But perhaps this is to be expected from a journalist who worked as a media officer for the Green Party in 2007. That being said, he is on the money, the interview brings up some pretty interesting stuff, to which Dunne’s answers are fairly confusing.

Campbell: I’ve just noticed the Greens got more party votes in your Ohariu electorate last election than United Future – how did that happen ?

Dunne : Two reasons. One was the general meltdown in our vote. Second we have never, for obvious reasons, run a two-tick campaign in Ohariu-Belmont. We’ve always run an electorate vote campaign. So, we want the party vote everywhere else, but in that electorate we clearly want the electorate vote.

That seems particularly odd, why would Dunne not want to campaign for party votes in his own electorate. It doesn’t make much sense to want a party vote elsewhere, but not in the electorate which holds its strongest, and highest profile candidate. Sorry Peter, your reasons aren’t obvious.

Campbell: This time, even if National got enough votes to govern alone, do you expect they will choose to have partners, even if only to foster a sense of inclusiveness?

Dunne : I can’t speak for them, obviously. But I would have thought it would be wise to do so. The prospect of them getting enough to govern alone arte extremely unlikely – but even if they achieve that, in New Zealand’s political culture, it’s a one-term phenomenon. So I would have thought, from both the perspective of presenting a broad-based government, and from the sense of sending out the signals that you aim to be around for more than three years , you would want to do that. But that’s their call, not mine.

This is a very interesting question, and its one that should be posed to the Maori Party and New Zealand First. If John Key is clever (and if National does form the next government) then including parties who dont need to be included into formal alliances, coalitions, or confidence and supply agreements may be beneficial. Dunne is right in noting that its a future looking strategy, an important consideration in MMP. National can not expect to govern alone if they succeed a second or third term. Labour’s third termitis is enough to refute this. Also worth considering is the convention of collective cabinet responsobility. By including leaders of other parties into an agreement, the governing party can exact a modicum of control over the ability of other party’s to speak out on government issues.

Campbell: Do you think any of the Christian-based parties will cross the 5 % threshold this year?

Dunne : No. United Future is not in that camp, not any more.

Campbell: You’ve been through your prayer meeting phase ?

Dunne : Well, we were never really in it. I certainly wasn’t. But we had some people who imagined that United Future could become New Zealand’s version of the Taliban.

Campbell: Right.

Dunne : And they’ve now thankfully left to pursue their course to oblivion.

This is good news, Dunne is right to distance itself as much as he can from the maverick antics of political buffoons like Gordon Copeland et al. However, we all cant forget that Dunne was willing to work with these people, perhaps it was an error of judgment, or just badly placed political opportunism. But Dunne’s voting record on social legislation speaks for itself.

Campbell: But is it fair to your middle class constituency, let alone to the poor, that the vast bulk of your tax cuts should go to those already relatively affluent?

Dunne : You want a system that’s simple, that removes a lot of the dis-incentives, or incentives for people to avoid it. And that’s what we’ve tried to deliver. In that sense, the alignment of the top personal, trust and company is quite significant. Because that will deal to the huge, burgeoning increase in family trust and other arrangements in recent years for tax avoidance purposes.

What? No it wont, separate legislation to deal with dodgy tax accounting and family trusts would solve the issue of tax avoidance among the richest. The top tax bracket will still have dodgy accounting practices, and will be getting tax cuts. So Campbell’s original accusation still stands, Tax cuts under Dunne will be very top heavy. The current media focus this year is on Winston Peter’s last gasp in the Tauranga electorate. But the same applies to Dunne as well. United Future is heavily dependent on his electorate seat, and like Winston, his party was formed around his position as an established parliamentarian. Labour in Ohariu-Belmont may try to do what National are doing in Tauranga, deal a death blow to a small party which is dwindling and on current polling no longer exerts much strategic influence on government formation. The question is, like Winston, will Dunne go down fighting?


About the Author ()

Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

Comments (7)

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  1. dave says:

    That seems particularly odd, why would Dunne not want to campaign for party votes in his own electorate.
    He never said he didn’t, he said he`d concentrate his electorate vote in his own electorate and the party vote nationwide. He does this because people in Ohariu vote for Peter Dunne, constituent MP, not Peter Dunne, leader of UnitedFuture.

  2. Yes he did.

    “Second we have never, for obvious reasons, run a two-tick campaign in Ohariu-Belmont.”

  3. Geoff says:

    The ‘obvious reasons’ is no doubt not wanting to dilute the message of an electorate vote for Pete. As you note Ohariu-Belmont is critical to United Future’s existence, so while it may be the richest pickings for boosting their party vote, they would be foolhardy to risk loosing the message of Pete for Ohariu-Belmont, to try to to boost their party vote by a half a percent.

  4. But when Campaigning for that message of ‘pete for belmont’ they should also be maximizing the message of Belmont for United Future.

    Its exactly what ACT did with Rodney in 2005, and it brought Roy in on his coat tails.

  5. dave says:

    totally different. Rodney is the leader of Act, and that is what he is known as in his electorate. Dunne in his electorate is not known as the leader of United Future so much as being known as a long standing and good constituent MP. He knows that his party is not going to benefit from an increase in the Oharau party vote as a result of a campaign.

    It’s just as well you are not his campaign manager….

  6. I’d contest that assertion Dave. He IS known as the UF leader, well, he certainly was in 2002 after the worm fiasco. Ohariu-Belmont voters are not stupid. The point in that he can run a successful constituent MP campaign AND a UF campaign within OB. Its a wonder why he doesn’t.

    Jim Anderton did it in 2002
    Peters did it in 1999 and 2002
    Rodney did it well in 2005

    Why cant Dunne?

  7. dave says:

    because he doenst need to waste his time doing it.

    Peters needed to or else he wouldn’t have got into parliament. Hide needed to as a B plan because he was looking unlikely to get into parliament, but just squeezed in. Anderton didn’t do it in 2005 for the same reason as Dunne is not doing it now… both are the sole people likely to get into parliament from their party and therefore don’t need the list vote as a backup.

    Additionally it is pointless voting for UF and Progressive candidates other than the leaders for the very reason as they are likely to be wasted votes, as they have been for the past two elections.

    So you may contest my assertion, but you`d need to do better to back up your own assertion because as it stands, its no contest.

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