A Minister and an Under Secretary

September 29th, 2014 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

National has announced two confidence and supply agreements – with United Future and ACT.

The United Future one is basically:

  • Agree to work on  the next iteration of the National Medicines Strategy, improving water quality, giving recreational fishers more opportunities. re-affirming the use of public private partnerships for major roading projects and other United Future policies
  • Peter Dunne appointed  Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Sits on  Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee, Cabinet Social Policy Committee, and the Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control.
  • National will give Dunne some of their question slots and speaking slots

The ACT one is:

  • National and ACT to continue with partnership schools, regulatory reform and RMA reform
  • David Seymour appointed  Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform. Sits on Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee and Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee
  • National will give Seymour some of their question slots and speaking slots

I think making David Seymour an Under Secretary rather than an Associate Minister is a smart move. It allows ACT to be involved in the implementation of policy in areas of importance to them – charter schools and regulatory reform, but doesn’t see a new MP made a Minister straight away. It is quite possible that if Seymour does well, he may become a Minister at some stage.

I imagine they will soon announce an agreement with the Maori Party, but that may be delayed due to the Maori Party’s need to do consultative hui. And then we should get the appointment of the National Ministers.

National’s potential electoral deals

June 12th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

 In the very strange case of Colin Craig and the Conservative Party, there is little doubt that John Key and his campaign maestro Steven Joyce are reluctant suitors.

Deal or no deal?

Welcome to John Key’s nightmare – or the closest you get to a nightmare when your party’s on 50 per cent and your opposition is fractured into five parts.

The prime minister has said he will announce a job-lot of deals with potential support parties in coming weeks.

On the face of it “arrangements” with all three make sense. In a tight race why throw away a chunk of Centre-Right support on your side of the fence, especially if Internet-Mana is going to vacuum up two or three seats on the other side?


Tactical voting is nothing new. In 1999 Helen Clark told Labour voters to vote for the Jeanette Fitzsimons in Coromandel. And last election the Greens told their supporters to vote for the Labour candidates in Auckland Central and Ohariu.

In the case of UnitedFuture, it is an easy equation.

Peter Dunne is a dream ally. He won’t go with the other side, causes only the occasional headache on principle each term, and has ministerial experience.

Even if you dump him he doesn’t go feral. And the chances are his party will poll so low that he will create an overhang seat – a net gain for the Right.

If a party gets below 0.4% then it is an overhang seat.

ACT and David Seymour in Epsom are slightly more problematic.

Seymour is earnest lobby fodder for National, his party is on the spectrum – as in the Right-wing one – and if he gets over the line there is a serious chance he will bring in another MP. However, the whiff of John Banks’ exit lingers in the air and there is an outside chance that Epsom voters will return the reluctant candidate Paul Goldsmith anyway.

And they have every right to do so.

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

Which brings us to the third option, and the very strange case of Colin Craig and the Conservative Party.

There is little doubt that Key and his campaign maestro Steven Joyce are reluctant suitors.

But on the experience of 2011, Craig is likely to attract more votes than the other two combined.

So will National hold its nose and cut him a deal?

Well, the Conservatives have said they don’t want a deal.

Back in the here and now, Key is playing a much more equivocal game with the Conservatives than the other two parties.

Maybe there was an element of game-playing on Key’s part, but on Tuesday he noted Craig’s enthusiasm for a deal with surprise as he harked back to earlier comments from Craig that he was not seeking an accommodation and was confident of clearing the 5 per cent hurdle.

Another Stuff story reports:

National backbencher Mark Mitchell says Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is “dreaming” if he thinks he will be gifted his seat.

Craig, who was defeated by Mitchell in Rodney by 12,222 votes in 2011, said this week he expected to be offered a deal handing him one of the Rodney, Upper Harbour or East Coast Bays seats in the September election.

Based on current polls, if Craig wins an electorate seat, he would take one or two MPs with him into Parliament, helping National gain a majority.

They could get 4 MPs. They got 2.7% last time and 2.8% gets you four MPs.

I’d be amazed if there was any deal in Rodney or North Shore. It simply would never happen.

Ultimately I imagine the decision will come down to necessity. If the polls show National, ACT and United Future likely to be able to form a Government, then why deal with the Conservatives and risk electoral damage from a deal.

But if it looks like NZ First would hold the balance of power, then I’d say Colin Craig is a far more attractive option than Winston. You can trust Craig, but not Peters.

A Chorus of one

November 28th, 2013 at 3:38 pm by Jadis

New Zealand First, United Future and the Maori Party have all stated their position that the Government should listen to the Commerce Commission on the Chorus and Copper tax issue. It appears to have been a highly coordinated campaign where each Party stated their position in quick succession.

What does this mean for the Government? Well, the silver lining is that they can ditch a proposal that was fairly unpopular and work on alternative arrangements for assisting Chorus that doesn’t involve internet users paying more and undermining the Commerce Commission.


Update: ACT and Mana Party have also added their support. I understand Greens and Labour Party will follow in the next hour.

United Future vs Conservatives?

November 10th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Fox at Stuff reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne has used his party conference to attack the “Green Taliban” and “crackpot Conservatives” and all but ruled out working with Labour next year.

He has also unveiled an increased focus on environmental issues upon which the party will stand in the next election and outlined his vision for increasing participation in local politics. …

Dunne told his enthusiastic audience that his party would present itself as a champion of the environment and outdoor recreation next year.

Part of the reason New Zealand’s environmental credentials had taken a hammering recently was because environmental policy had been “hijacked by the political left, and have accordingly succumbed to the notion that unless you are a Green, you cannot have any concern for our environment”.

“In an open society, there is a place for the Green Taliban, but it is at the fringes, and not centre stage.

”Mainstream New Zealanders did care about environmental issues and the mainstream giant is stirring from its slumbers.

“It is time for the rise of the purple-greens – the mainstream New Zealanders who care practically about the state of our environment and want to do more than just pontificate and wring their hands in despair.” …

National should forget the “untested crackpot conservatives” and the “serially unreliable” New Zealand First.

The dance of the minor parties is starting!

Where to for ACT

October 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Does ACT have a future after its leader was committed to trial over his 2010 Mayoral election return?

Well firstly it depends on the outcome of the court case. If he loses, and is convicted, then his seat in Parliament is automatically vacated. That means a by-election in Epsom, and unless ACT stood an incredibly popular candidate (such as Cameron Brewer) then they would not win the by-election and be out of Parliament. I think that would be the end of the party, which would dissolve. That may create an opportunity for a new party in time, but probably not until 2017 at the earliest.

The fact the Solictor-General is looking at taking over the prosecution is somewhat ominous.

If Banks wins, then he remains in Parliament, and becomes a Minister again. However that does not mean plain sailing.

Banks defence is basically that he signed a legal declaration of his election expenses and donations, but didn’t read it. That may mean he legally didn’t willfully break the law, but it’s an awful look.  If his non-reading had occurred as a parliamentary candidate, that would be fatal. He is slightly saved by the fact that when he signed the return he though his political career was over. But regardless of timing, it looks bad. As I said previously, it is bad to be personally involved in receiving two donations and then sign a return saying he doesn’t know who his donors were. It may be legal (as Len’s trusts were), but is the public concerned just about legality?

Even if Banks wins, it is hard to see him winning Epsom again. Having said that ACT have won it three elections in a row, when almost no one thought they would or could.

If there is a by-election, then I would expect National to win it easily. Epsom voters are not going to vote for giving the Maori Party the balance of power or worse a Labour-Greens Government. Paul Goldsmith would become the MP for Epsom and Jo Hayes would become a List MP.

So I don’t see big issues for the Government before the general election, except for a possible distracting by-election campaign.

The bigger challenge is the next general election. National has five potential coalition partners, and none of them are ideal – and probably more than one of them will be needed. The five potential partners are:

  1. ACT – very reliable in a voting sense and pushes National into areas most of its supporters want. But not likely to be back.
  2. United Future – also a reliable and stable partner, even though more inclined to vote independently on non-core issues. But will Dunne stand again, and would he win?
  3. Maori Party. They will be back with at least one seat, probably two. A third is possible – a list seat if they get over 2% party vote. However they have never had to choose between a National and Labour led Government. They could well choose to go with Labour. And if they do choose National, their policy demands could be unpopular.
  4. Conservatives. It is hard to see them making 5% but they could well make 2.8% and get four seats if they win an electorate. If a new Auckland seat is in an area where they have some strong support, then the lak of an incumbent National MP could see centre-right tactical voting to get them in. The downside is that if this looks likely it might scare some socially liberal voters to Labour. Against that, most of the core issues for the Conservatives are conscience issues and not something likely to be part of any coalition agreement (except maybe to agree to no further law changes in certain areas). I can’t see any possibility of repealing same sex marriage, prostitution, abortion laws etc. Maybe the anti-smacking law could go as a policy victory for them?
  5. NZ First. Winston hates John Key and wants utu on him, The jury is out on whether the bigger utu is to sack John Key or make him subservient to him. Either option is rather unpleasant to contemplate. But you can’t rule out a deal if a National-NZ First majority is possible and a centre-left Government is only possible if the Greens are part of it.

So National does have options if ACT goes, but they are not great options. But politics is the art of the possible!

Flexi-Super – change for changing times?

October 1st, 2013 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

It can be tough to talk about the future; sometimes it seems like there are so many unknowns. Just think about how much the world has changed since the introduction of New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) in 1977 creating a universal – and not means-tested – scheme that paid 80 per cent of the average wage to married people over 60.

During the ensuing years, adjustments have been made to the scheme which in itself was the latest incarnation of much older systems. This shows we can be flexible when we need to be – and right now, with a population which is living and working longer,we need to talk about superannuation.

It’s time for an honest and frank discussion about how NZS might need to change to reflect these changing circumstances and lifestyles because the current arrangement of eligibility for NZS at 65 may not suit everybody’s needs.

Earlier this year, United Future leader Peter Dunne released a Government Discussion Paper on aFlexi-Super plan and New Zealanders have just a few more weeks left until the Friday, 11 October deadline to comment on the proposal.

Flexi-Super gives New Zealanders the option of choosing to take a reduced rate of NZS from the age of 60 or an increased rate if they delay taking up superannuation until they reach 70.

“The basic motivation for this policy is giving people more choice because New Zealanders want choice about how they live their lives,”Mr Dunne says.“At the moment, they have no option but to carry on working until they’re 65 or leave and make do.”

Under Mr Dunne’s Flexi-Super plan, the standard age of eligibility for the state pension remains at 65 and payments stay at two-thirds of the average after-tax weekly wage for those who take their super then. But the earlier someone decides to first take NZS, the lower the payment will be each year relative to the rate they would have received had they decided to first collect NZS at 65; alternatively, taking NZS after age 65 means receiving a higher relative rate.

These rates will be adjusted for inflation and wage increases,so the mechanism for adjusting rates of NZS does not change. It will remain possible to continue working and receive NZS-and that could offer greater flexibility to those in physically demanding jobs.

The paper points out that there are advantages and disadvantages in allowing such flexibility.

Advantages include making the system fairer for workers in tough, physical jobs and those, such as Maori and Pasifika, who have a lower life expectancy. It also avoids the possible stigma associated with seeking benefits among those who, for a variety of reasons, can no longer work. It may also enable some people to pay down debt or build up assets.

Giving people the option to wait till they are 70 before drawing down NZS will encourage older workers to stay in the labour force for longer, helping to retain much-needed skills, experience and institutional knowledge.

There is a risk that Flexi-Super may reduce incentives for the 60- 64 year olds to work and if NZS is taken too early, it could create hardship for many who retire early. It is vital for us all to understand that the reduced rate we accept in return for being paid earlier would be the rate received for life.

The State might end up having to supplement the incomes of people who retire early, then find themselves unable to make ends meet because of an unforeseen change in circumstances.

A layered system could also seriously complicate what is at present an easily understood and administered system. Government actuaries will face a Herculean task to figure out a sliding scale that takes all the required factors into account and delivers a system that iscost-neutral, as is proposed.

“This is part of a wider conversation about financial literacy that we all have to have and I encourage all New Zealanders to think about these issues and discuss them in the course of daily life,” MrDunne says.

According to a Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll in February, 49 per cent of people want to choose when they receive their state pension, with reduced or enhanced rates depending on the age they start drawing payments.

So we need to consider carefully Flexi-Super and the Government wants to hear your views. The Discussion Paper can be viewed at www.unitedfuture.org.nz and also on the Minister of Finance’s website.

The deadline for submissions is October 11, 2013. Submissions can be made by email to flexi-super@treasury.govt.nz or posted to Flexible Superannuation, The Treasury, PO Box 3724, Wellington 6140, New Zealand. Following this consultation, the Government will consider whether to further explore the Flexi-Super proposal. More detailed policy work and more consultation will take place before any decisions are made.

pd uf  House of Representatives black on white crest


Peter Dunne, Leader, UnitedFuture, 04 817 9410

UnitedFuture against RMA reforms

September 12th, 2013 at 10:38 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two of the Government’s support parties have refused to back proposals to overhaul planning laws.

The Maori Party and UnitedFuture say a revamp of the Resource Management Act goes too far and no longer protects the environment.

The changes were announced by Environment Minister Amy Adams last month at the National Party’s annual conference. The Government wants to cut the cost of building and argues the present consenting processes take too long and are costly, slowing developments.

Adams wants to shake up part two of the RMA, which puts in place environmental safeguards.

Without the minor party support, the Government no longer has the numbers to pass the legislation.

Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne wrote to Adams to outline their concerns.

It seems a bit strange that it has taken four weeks for them to decide their stance.

The proposed law changes need either one of those two parties on board, or NZ First.  If they can’t get any of them, well that is how minority Government works – you don’t always get your way.

They’re back!

August 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

The Electoral Commission has re-registered UnitedFuture, effective from Thursday, but leader Peter Dunne is planning to introduce a Bill to change what he calls “a cumbersome process” he had to go through.

He said he was pleased with the decision and would now seek to have Speaker David Carter restore it as a recognised Parliamentary party – a move that would bring with it extra funding of more than $100,000.

I expect United Future will also be re-recognised as a parliamentary party.

The bigger issue for United Future if whether Peter decides to contest Ohariu in 2014.

United Future not there after all

July 10th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

United Future have sent this e-mail out to their members:

We sent out an email a couple of weeks ago asking that people print the email and return it to us to support our application for re-registration with the Electoral Commission.

There was an excellent response enabling us to submit the signed forms yesterday. The Commission has come back to us requiring some more signatures as they have issues with enough of the forms to take us under the magic 500 required. I can assure you that we have a lot more than the required 500 members, it’s the signed forms we don’t have enough of. We are trying to get the process completed as quickly as possible hence the urgency.

It’s up to you! If you are able to print, sign and date this email then scan and email it back to xxx we will be able to complete that part of the registration process.

Thank you for your initial response, it is greatly appreciated. Your assistance with this request will get the job done.

Many thanks, 

So looks like some of the forms were non-compliant, hence it may take even longer.

United Future submits 500 members

July 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Independent MP Peter Dunne will submit 500 individually signed declarations from members in an effort to register the United Future party today. …

He said he was disappointed the commission would not take six to eight weeks to check the validity of the members’ forms.

“Even if it was to check every one of the memberships, not just a sample, it would not be unrealistic to expect the process to be completed within five working days,” Mr Dunne said.

The time frame just seems unusually long. It takes around a minute to check a name and address against the electoral roll. I know this from experience as years ago one of my jobs was to check that all of National’s candidates were actually on the electoral roll, before we submitted the nominations forms!

I think five working days should be more than enough to verify some or all of the names.

Dunne now independent for parliamentary purposes

June 25th, 2013 at 2:18 pm by David Farrar

Speaker David Carter has ruled that as United Future is no longer a registered political party, it is no longer eligible to be recognised as a parliamentary party under Standing Orders. Hence Peter Dunne is now classified as an independent MP.

This means he loses $122,000 of annual leader and party funding. Also he no longer has the right to speaks on motions where all party leaders get to speak.

However the Speaker also indicated that if they do get re-registered they will likely again be recognised as a parliamentary party, so he is likely to regain his former status in a couple of months or so.

Paper insistence

June 12th, 2013 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn blogs:

So, United Future is apparently ready to re-register as a party, but has been held up by the Electoral Commission’s insistence on paper membership records.

As someone who has grown up in the internet age, this is simply backwards. In an age where I can get a passport, do my taxes, or submit on legislation online, the idea that I have to fill out an actual paper form to join a political party (as opposed to any other organisation) is just arcahic. But its also possibly illegal. Why? Because in 2002, Parliament passed the Electronic Transactions Act 2002, the thrust of which is basically “electronic stuff counts”. …

So basically the Electoral Commission could accept electronic membership records; they just choose not to. And that choice appears to be contrary to S 8 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.

Administrative decisions cannot trump the law. The Electoral Commission needs to drag itself into the 21st century and start accepting electronic memberships. And who knows? Perhaps if you don’t need to use bronze-age technology to participate, people might actually start joining political parties again.

Basically I agree 100%. I don’t belong to organisations that I can’t join online. My membership of National has been done electronically for many years.

United Future deregistered

May 31st, 2013 at 5:08 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has announced:

On 31 May 2013 the Electoral Commission board cancelled the registration of the United Future New Zealand (United Future) party at the party’s request in accordance with section 70 of the Electoral Act 1993.

Section 70 says:

The Electoral Commission shall cancel the registration of a political party at the request of one of the persons specified in section 63(1) if satisfied that the request for cancellation is made by the applicant on behalf of the party.

I presume they asked to be deregistered as they no longer had 500 financial members.

I don’t think this affects Peter Dunne’s status in Parliament, or as a party leader, as they were a registered party when elected. It does mean that if he stands again, it will be as an Independent or for an unregistered party.

United Future have said:

UnitedFuture Party President Robin Gunston today announced that the party has asked the Electoral Commission to cancel its registration as a political party while it clears up inconsistencies in its confirmed membership numbers.

“While we have well over the 500 members required under Section 71 A of the Electoral Act for a political party to be registered, there are inconsistencies in the party’s records around current addresses and the financial status of some of those members,” Mr Gunston said.

“Quite simply, this meant that we could not, hand-on-heart, sign the required statutory declaration to swear to our membership.

“For that reason, we have asked the Electoral Commission to cancel the party’s registration while we confirm the numbers.

Personally I think the threshold should be at least 1,000 members.

Dunne against charter schools

April 19th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance reports:


Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says he will vote against legislation establishing charter schools.


However, the Government still looks to have the numbers, with the Maori Party giving support at the Bill’s second reading. …

Dunne says he’s not convinced by the charter schools model and he is particularly concerned at proposals which will allow charter schools to employ teachers who are not registered or nationally certified.

The United Future leader is also worried the schools will not be compelled to follow the National curriculum.

“The current system already provides for a significant range of schooling opportunities, and I cannot see there is a need to introduce the partnership schools approach to achieve the level of flexibility the proponents of partnership schools are seeking,” he said.

The select committee recommended that charter schools be subject to investigation by the Ombudsman.

The independent schools will receive the same per-child funding from the Government but are less-tied to Education Ministry regulations.

So the likely vote is 63 to 58.


Youth United

March 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Parliamentary youth reps unanimously back marriage equality

 In an unprecedented joint initiative youth reps from all eight parties in Parliament have combined together to demonstrate the overwhelming support amongst young New Zealanders for same sex couples to be able to marry.

Young Nats Vice President Shaun Wallis said that Young Nats were delighted the majority of National MPs voted in favour of marriage equality at first reading and hope they will continue to do at the second reading this week “Our members overwhelmingly supports marriage equality as we believe in freedom and equal opportunity for all Kiwis.”

Young Labour spokesperson Sam Thompson said that marriage equality and adoption reform are the number one policy priority for Young Labour. “We believe our representatives in Wellington really value equality and a fair go and will continue to support expanding the right to marry to everyone who has a partner they love and want to spend their life with.”

Young Greens spokesperson Izzy Lomax said that the Young Greens were delighted that all 14 Green MPs voted in favour of marriage equality as we believe in a society without discrimination, and look forward to an end to all discrimination against rainbow communities, starting with allowing loving same sex couples to marry”.

“NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson said that NZ First Youth is united in supporting a referendum on this issue. While there is a large and vocal proportion of NZ First Youth who would vote in favour, it is by no means unanimous. We feel that the important thing is for progressive changes in legislation to come with the direct backing and support of the people – not filtered through layers of temporarily empowered politicians and political parties. A referendum is the fairest, most inclusive and democratic method of achieving this. It is our hope that MPs of other parties will realize this and join our call for a referendum.”

Maori Party kaikorero rangatahi Teaonui Mckenzie said that he is proud that all three Maori Party MPs support the right of same sex couples to marry and form a whanau. “This generation will not tolerate any form of discrimination, whether by race, gender or sexual orientation.”

MANA Rangatahi spokesperson Ian Anderson says that “MANA are fully behind the Bill and will work to reduce societal inequality wherever possible, in this case bringing New Zealand law into line to provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to enter marriage.”

Act on Campus President Taylor Warwood said that “Act on Campus have been long-time supporters of marriage equality, and were delighted that ACT MP John Banks voted for Louisa Wall’s bill at its first reading and believe its passage will be entirely consistent with ACT policy of one law for all.”

United Future spokesman Damian Light said that “allowing couples who love each other to marry is just common sense and we’re proud that Hon Peter Dunne, our Party Leader, has been a vocal supporter of this bill. Our support of this bill is consistent with our liberal belief in equality for all.”

“This show of support for marriage equality by every party’s youth wing sends a powerful message. Marriage equality is no longer a question of if, but of when. We can’t wait for Parliament to vote in favour of the Bill.” said Campaign for Marriage Equality Spokesperson Conrad Reyners.

The eight youth reps, representing youth members of parties comprising 120 of the 121 MPs in Parliament believe their combined show of support reflects the over-whelming support for marriage equality amongst younger New Zealanders (76% in favour in Colmar Brunton May 2012 poll).


United Future and asset sales

March 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Some on the left have been pushing a message that United Future did not say they will back asset sales before the election, so hence there is no electoral mandate for them. This is, to be frank, absolute crap. I doubt a single voter in Ohariu voted for Peter Dunne thinking he might stop National’s asset sales. If Ohariu voters wanted to stop asset sales, they could have voted for Charles Chauvel. Instead Chauvel lost for the third election in a row.

In this video, Peter Dunne explicitly refers to asset sales and say they are on National’s path but UF will make sure three key assets are never sold – Kiwibank, Radio NZ and “our water”. The reference to our water is to water supply, as made clear on their website here.

UnitedFuture does not intend to wait until it is on the asset sales agenda. New Zealanders would never – or should never – accept a sell-off of the supply of the water, or any of the aspects around it.

A few people have tried to say that as power companies own dams, and dams use water, then somehow the reference to water is actually saying they are against the power companies being sold. Well that is like saying you’re against Coke being sold, as that also uses water.

Further their website stated:

 with regard to Asset Sales, UnitedFuture will insist that:

– The New Zealand Government retains majority control (51%)

– Shareholding by private investors be capped at 15%

– New Zealand household investors are given preferential purchase right at time of issue.

This is clear that they will support National’s proposed (part) sales so long as they remain majority owned, a 15% cap and preferential treatment for NZ investors.

Further Peter Dunne attended a dozen or more public meetings in Ohariu, and he was asked about asset sales at basically every meeting. His response was the same at each meeting – they will support the five partial sales proposed so long as 51% Govt owned, 15% cap and preference for NZ investors, and they will not support RNZ, Kiwibank or water supply companies being sold.

No one thought a vote for Peter Dunne was a vote to stop National’s asset sales. I doubt 57% of National party voters would have voted for Peter if they thought that voting for him would be voting against a core National party promise.

It is a lie invented by the left to try and get around the inconvenient fact they actually lost the election. Peter Dunne’s position before the election on asset sales is exactly the same as it is now.

The National-United Future agreement

December 5th, 2011 at 5:25 pm by David Farrar

No one big item, such as ACT had, but lots of assorted issues in their agreement.

  • Pass the Game Animal Council legislation (this is for the outdoor recreation lobby)
  • Investigate a free annual health check for over 65s, as fiscal conditions allow
  • Introduce a law restricting any asset sold to a maximum 49% sale
  • Maintain current budget funding tracks for TVNZ and Radio NZ
  • Reform Families Commission so it has only one Commissioner and redirect savings to parenting programmes etc
  • A Govt discussion document to be developed on UF’s superannuation policy which allows people to choose any age from 60 to 70 to start receiving superannuation, but the longer you leave it the more you get
  • Greater use of private hospitals to reduce elective surgery waiting lists


United Future

November 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

MPs in

None new

MPs out

None out



There were doubts over whether Dunne would retain Ohariu. Chauvel ran a very aggressive campaign (which may have backfired) and Shanks was far more visible than Goldsmith was in Epsom. After the 2008 election my prediction was that Labour would win the seat if National and Dunne both stood, as Chauvel would come through the middle.

However Chauvel lost Ohariu for the third election in a row. Dunne’s increased majority was probably a combination of the general collapse in support for Labour, and National voters in the final days realising (correctly) how important United Future and ACT might be in allowing National to govern.

United Future got  12,000 party votes, around half the number needed to gain a second MP. Solid performances by Dunne in the minor leaders debates did not translate into increased support. United Future is unlikely to exist when Dunne retires from Parliament.


The immediate challenge is negotiating Ministerial portfolios. Dunne is a very competent Minister, and presumably will be happy to keep his existing portfolios.

Beyond that the challenge for Dunne is probably when to retire, without heading into Opposition. I thought Dunne may retire in 2011 (due to the chance he may lose Ohariu) but he increased his majority instead. He can probably win it in 2014, but will he want to if it looks like there will not be a National-led Government? Labour now hate Dunne and will not deal with him (unless they have to) so if Dunne stands and wins in 2014, but National does not, then he’ll face being a lone Opposition MP.

Incidentially unless I am mistaken, Peter Dunne is now the Father of the House – the longest serving continuous MP. Dunne was elected in 1984, as was Lockwood Smith. But Dunne was sworn in first as it is in surname alphabetical order. Goff and King were first elected in 1981 but lost their seats in 1990, so the clock for them starts from 1993.

United Future List

October 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

United Future have announced their party list:

1 Peter Dunne (Ohariu)
2 Doug Stevens (Nelson)
3 Rob Eaddy (Hutt South)
4 Sultan Eusoff (Palmerston North)
5 Alan Simmons (Taupo)

If United Future gets around 1.2% they get a second MP and at around 2.0% they would get a third MP.

Rob Eaddy, at No 3, is a former Chief of Staff to Jim Bolger, and one of the best political managers around. If United Future did manage to get him into Parliament, he would be an easy pick to become a very competent and successful Minister.

You can read bios on the top five at the link above. I’m not sure if they’ll get any MPs on top of Peter, but its a pretty good calibre of candidates in their top five.

United’s Super Policy

July 22nd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

United Future released yesterday their superannuation policy which allows for a retirement age of between 60 and 70, with the amount you get increasing the longer you leave off claiming it. They also propose making KiwiSaver compulsory.

Their policy is designed to be cost neutral.  what it would mean is the choices for a single recepient might be:

  • Age 60 – $249/week
  • Age 65 – $339/week
  • Age 70 – $546/week

I think the policy is a good step in the right direction. However as it is cost neutral I think it also might not be sustainable over time.


United Future President joins National

March 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm by David Farrar

One of my spies has just informed me that the United Future President, Denise Krum, resigned a short time ago off the United Future Board, and has joined the National Party. Her replacement is Deputy Leader Judy Turner.

I also understand that two other board members resigned last week. This adds to the speculation that United Future will not be around after the next election. In some ways it is a pity – they have a proven track record of being a moderate and reasonable coalition partner, but I guess the centre has just got too crowded.

Denise is what I regard as a good catch for National. I blogged in September:

Denise is UFNZ Party President and seems quite an able sort. She did quite well appearing for UFNZ for the broadcasting allocations.

Denise was ranked No 3 on the United Future list in 2008.

Quiz of the Day

February 4th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Can you name all the parties that have been merged into United Future New Zealand? I’m not 100% sure I even have all the names, but between everyone we should be able to identify them all.

Has United Future paid the money back?

January 26th, 2009 at 1:49 pm by David Farrar

NZ First never paid back the $140,000 + GST it owed the taxpayer.  We know this.

But a reader has reminded me that United Future also still owed some money. In the 2006/07 year they paid back only $31,000 o fthe $64,000 they owed (morally) the Parliamentary Service.

As far as I can tell from their annual report, no repayments were made in 2007/08 but there is a $3,000 other revenue line which might be a repayment.

So how much of the debt has been paid, and when will it be paid in full?

National – United Future Agreement

November 16th, 2008 at 7:37 pm by David Farrar

The National – United Future agreement is online here.

  • Peter Dunne to be Minister of Revenue and Associate Health

Good. He can keep pushing for flatter taxes from there.

  • Maintain Families Commission

I just knew that would be there!

  • Reduce elective surgery waiting lists by greater utilisation of private hospital capacity, in a planned way where this cannot be met by the public hospital system

Excellent – no arguments at all.

  • Progressing the long-term medicines strategy for quality use of pharmaceuticals in the health sector
  • Support Public Private Partnerships for major roading infrastructure developments such as the Transmission Gully highway

I’ll celebrate the day the first car drives along it, but not before!

  • The government notes that United Future has been committed to income splitting as a key part of their tax policy and agrees to support appropriate legislation to First Reading in Parliament.

Where parties can’t agree on something, an agreement to support to select committee is quite sensible, as it allows the public and other parties to consider their positions and submit on it.

  • Establish a Big Game Hunting Council as part of a national wild game management strategy

I guess that came from the Oudoor Recreation Party they gobbled up a few years ago.

I did note one section in the agreement:

Cabinet Manual

The Leader of United Future agrees to be bound by the Cabinet Manual in the exercise of his Ministerial responsibilities, and in particular agrees to be bound by the provisions in the Cabinet Manual on the conduct, public duty, and personal interests of Ministers.

This is what you would call the Winston clause. Helen allowed Winston to trample all over the Cabinet Manual – he didn’t get permission for travel, he ddn’t declare gifts, he didn’t get the PM’s permission to keep gifts etc. John Key is signalling he will expect a higher standard of integrity from his Ministers than Helen Clark did.

State of the Parties

November 10th, 2008 at 12:24 pm by David Farrar

So how are things looking for the parties. Let’s take things in reverse order:


Did better than expected on 0.9% – enough to avoid overhang but well off getting a second MP. The party is effectively over and doesn’t really serve any useful purpose now they are in Opposition (in Government they did have a somewhat different brand to Labour). I will not be surprised to see Anderton rejoin Labour during this term and Progressives windup. Anderton presumably will retire next election.

United Future

Like Progressive, United Future is basically over. Enough votes to avoid overhang but well off a second MP. Peter will have got a bit of a nasty shock that his majority has been slashed to under 2,000 and this is probably his final term as I expect both National and Labour will aim to win the seat next time.

Maori Party

Not that good an election for them. It could have been worse – they did win Te Tai Tonga but they are quite gutted not to win Ikaroa-Rawhiti especially. Their party vote barely lifted and they don’t hold the balance of power. However if they are sensible they will negotiate an abstain on supply and confidence with National in exchange for some policy wins. Their big challenge will be differentiating from Labour’s Maori MPs to give people a reason to keep supporting them. There is a remote chance they will take up Ministerial positions outside Cabinet – they will be worried doing so will risk Labour winning seats back off them. However they can make the case that National could have governed without them, and by accepting the roles they got to deliver some wins to Maoridom.

New Zealand First

It is all over. Winston won’t stand again in Tauranga and unless National did something monumentally stupid like cut super, NZ First won’t stand anywhere.

I suspect Ron Mark will become Leader and maybe give Rimutaka another try, but it is doubtful they’ll make 1% without an incumbent MP and/or Winston.

The big question is where will NZ First voters go? National? Labour? There is in fact an opportunity for a new party to hoover up the NZ First, Kiwi Party and Family Party that got 5.1% between them. They all have social conservatism in common. If United Future disappears also, then you may have up to 6% looking for a home.


In some ways the Greens are the big losers from this election, despite getting two more MPs. But they had polls showing them getting up to 11.5% and they only got 6.4%. Labour lost bigtime also, but at least they got to spend nine years in Government. The Greens have spent their first nine years locked out of Government and now face say another six years in Opposition where they will struggle to compete with Labour who will agree with them on most issues now. And when Labour do come back in, the Maori Party will have a stronger negotiating position than the Greens.

On the positive side they did get two more MPs and maybe could get a third. Delahunty is seen as an exremists, but Hague is a solid performer and Kennedy Graham could add to theri voter appeal.


The result is a total vindication for Rodney Hide. If ACT has not grown their number of MPs, they would have become like the Progressive Party – doomed to die with the Leader. But they have grown ACT so that it is a credible force for the future. This is great not just for ACT but the centre-right. Without ACT long-term there would be just four parties – Labour, Greens, Maori and National. Under that scenario centre-right Govts will be rare. With ACT in the picture it is more balanced.

The challenge for ACT is to get some policy wins from National. With 5 MPs they need to be able to show they delivered to their supporters. But they need to balance that with not forcing John Key into doing anything that could be seem to betray those who voted for him and his leadership.

ACT should also push for two Ministers – Rodney and Heather. They make up 1/12th of the Government so they should get 1/12th of the Executive which is two Ministerial roles. Heather would be a very competent Minister I am sure.


Clark and Cullen have resigned. It is a mark of their political judgement that they have decided to step down immediately. Staying on for even six months would just have meant a period of destabilising headlines.

Phil Goff will be the new Leader I predict. If the ballot has been delayed even a year, then maybe not. But I suspect he may be elected unoppossed.

The interesting thing will be Deputy. It has to be a female or a Maori to keep factions happy. I somehow can’t see Goff happy with Maryan Street as his Deputy (and I see she has ruled herself out) so suspect Annette King could take the job. However they are both from the right-leaning part of Caucus so there may be opposition to that. King is widely regarded by all her MPs though. Jones is a possible for Deputy but making him Deputy would lead to speculation as to when he will roll Goff.

Goff will get one chance only, like Mike Moore. If he does not win in 2011, then others will be ready by then. There is even a chance he would get rolled before 2011 if they do not perform in the polls.

Goff is a very capable politician, but his big problem is he entered Parliament under Muldoon. It will be hard to brand him as the fresh face for the future when he has been an MP for 30 years by the time of the next election.

If Labour are smart they will make Cunliffe Shadow Finance Minister.


Key has a number of challenges and opportunities.

He needs to do a deal with ACT that works for both of them. Gives ACT some wins, but doesn’t undermine his centrist brand. However having said that, people have to realise the public did not vote for a National Government – they did elect a National-ACT Government (plus United Future).

His other challenge is the Maori Party – it would be a coup to bring them on board as Ministers. This is ironic as most PMs would rather keep all portfolios for their own party, but long-term having Sharples and Turia as Ministers would send a message about working with the Maori Party. It would also allow National to do some stuff in welfare, that they could not do by themselves.

Putting together the Cabinet is the next challenge. To put it bluntly there are too many contenders and some will be disappointed. Key will need some of the 1990s Ministers for their experience and stability, but signal to those MPs that they should not expect a six to nine year term in Cabinet this time around – more likely 2 – 3 years max, so that going into 2011 the majority of Ministers are from the 2002, 2005 and even 2008 intakes.

A fourth challenge is a large Caucus of 59. But unlike 1990, there is no long tail of Gilbert Myles types to manage. One or two may present some challenges but generally the new intake is talented and ambitious. That may be the longer term challenge – keeping them happy as Government backbenchers whose main job is to move “That the motion now be put” in committee of the whole debates 🙂

The 2005 intake will also need some managing. A few of them will make Cabinet but most won’t – yet. They will probably be the Select Committee Chairs as Ministers in waiting, and these appointments will also have to be negotiated with other parties.