I forward this to my blog for two reasons:
- Although I disagree vehemently with our leader, Peter Dunne, over Sue Bradford’s bill, United Future is still the only party that stands for at least 80% of what I believe in:
- It’s interesting to read “the other side” sometimes.
From: United Future Secretary [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 9 May 2007 7:41 p.m.
Subject: United Future’s Hard Work
The hard work is paying off.
More than a decade ago, we set ourselves the goal of becoming New Zealand‘s vital centre party, capable of working with most other parties in Parliament for the betterment of the whole nation. Since being in parliament, we have stuck to our goals, managed to stay near the levers of power and done all that we can to influence the policies of successive Governments of New Zealand towards commonsense and the family.
There have been days when we have felt the media hasn’t given
us a fair run or been unduly dismissive or critical. But, judging from recent media comment,
things are changing…
Here’s the May 4 political column from the National Business
Review… (It’s 963 words, but well worth it!)
Peter Dunne basks in an endless summer
The National Business Review – 4 May 2007
“His five recent coups mean it’s time to reassess the United Future leader”
By David W Young and Ben Thomas
“Is Peter Dunne the hottest politician in New Zealand right now? For the extent to which such a question sounds deliberately provocative,
your correspondents make no apology. After all, a few months ago that claim would have sounded simply like high satire, akin to
describing Jonathan Hunt as one of the 20 greatest living New Zealanders.
Yet the leader of the tiny three MP United Future party and revenue minister outside government has had a remarkable few weeks.
He was the driving force behind the government’s decision to extend daylight savings by three weeks. The prime minister, of course, has her own reasons for extending summer. It’s tagged, weakly, as part of the government’s climate change policy; more daylight means less electricity used in those three weeks. Clark has summoned more hours of sunlight for the country out of the heavens – the ultimate commitment to solar energy. But it’s obviously an evocation of better days at the beginning of the Clark government – New Zealand currently must seem to the prime minister like a country with seasonal affective disorder. The same housing boom which in 2005 meant a wealthy
middle class now means a struggling battler class.
For Dunne, though, being a modern day Maui releasing extra sunshine pales in comparison to his later heroics helping front the compromise between National, Labour and the Greens on Sue Bradford’s child discipline bill or his earlier feat marshalling United Future, Act,
the Greens and the Maori Party to jointly announce their support for the repeal of sedition laws.
Dunne, in mustering the small parties, has achieved what Winston Peters said he would. He has managed to "keep the government honest" despite being a minister outside cabinet.
It has helped that Dunne has kept his oppositional instincts confined to what could be labelled administrative
matters: sedition and the likes of amendments to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Amendment Bill.*The sedition law is a great example. Although each one of the minor parties involved in a joint press conference deserves credit, Dunne was the first
out of the blocks to support the Law Commission’s call for the repeal of the laws. He essentially led the "coalition of the willing," and the joint press conference was held in United’s caucus room.
He also deserves credit for finally putting aside his traditional – and quite irrational – aversion to the Greens. Dunne’s media persona has always (bar a remarkable and petulant outburst at television reporters on election night) been soothingly moderate. But for all his talk of consensus and common sense he has shown an unwillingness to work with the non-major parties. His reputation as a moderator has never been in doubt. In 2002 he did not so much "slay" the TV audience worm, as was often suggested, as lull it gently to sleep.
All these years later, in bringing together or at least fronting parties in every part of the political divide in just a fortnight, Dunne has managed to genuinely look like the "common-sense" bridge builder that his party tried to pass off in 2002. Of course, Green MP Keith Locke had called for the laws to be repealed much earlier. But Dunne provided a sensible coordinating influence. And very little could
sound more "common sense" than repealing an archaic crime against the Crown.
The other side of Dunne’s political outlook – his "anti-PC-ness" – was enlisted to oppose the government’s proposed changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. In among a barrage of technical, administrative changes, the government also moots restricting
access to birth certificates to bring the register in line with other privacy requirements. If there was any group that could strike as Peter Dunne’s natural constituency it would be the genealogists and amateur local historians opposing the bill. Restricting access to birth certificates may not raise the same privacy-related hackles as old urban myths like report cards being refused to parents, but it plays on the same familiar themes to those who believe political correctness is still an identifiable thing and that somewhere along the way it’s gone mad. Plus, the government’s alternative justification for the measure, the prevention of identity theft, sounds shaky at best.
With only a few slips – and operating largely under the radar – Dunne has been a safe pair of hands as revenue minister. He’s been a consistent advocate of tax reductions since 1986 (his first stint in revenue). He should be able to stake a strong claim to
savings-tied tax cuts in the Budget this year.
At election time, Dunne becomes a parliamentary handbag – as the leader of a centrist party, he’s the perfect accessory for a government of any persuasion. Other than Winston Peters, he’s the only politician in Parliament who can claim experience as minister in both a Labour and a National-led government.
He’s a pragmatist who opposed most of Labour’s measures between 1999 and 2002, then tacked left as a member of the Labour-led government of 2002-2005. And Dunne doesn’t court media antagonism the way Peters does. Occupying the safe seat of Ohariu Belmont, Dunne is all but guaranteed to return to Parliament in 2008. The only question is how many hangers-on he brings with him. Those hangers-on give Dunne voting power, but have added little to public debate. Judy Turner is hard-working, likeable but is far from a political viper. Gordon Copeland appears to throw himself at issues with great enthusiasm. Mostly, he slides right off without leaving an impact.
But with Dunne’s profile and careful way of politicking, the party can survive without more than one star. Dunne won’t be remembered for his Families Commission, odd hairstyle or Naughty MP list of politicians’ parliamentary hi-jinx. He’ll be remembered for understanding
the importance of centrist parties in an MMP system.”
Like what you’ve read? Click the links below for more:
From former ACT MP, Deborah Coddington:
From Audrey Young, NZ Herald political editor:
United Future is the modern centre party New Zealand needs to make MMP work. We need your support to help build up our Party to promote strong families and vibrant communities and to enable all New Zealanders, whatever their background, race or creed, to have the chance to enjoy all that is good in our country.
To join United Future, the party that really makes a difference, just go to this link:
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