The Herald reports:
United Future leader Peter Dunne says he is probably the most lobbied MP in Parliament, as his party has held the balance of power for more than 10 pieces of legislation this parliamentary term.
Mr Dunne’s crucial vote has sealed major law changes including the Government’s flagship asset sales legislation. On the other hand, the minister will oppose Government law changes such as the introduction of charter schools, and has helped private member’s bills from the other side of the House to get over the line.
With Act usually voting along the same lines as National, the ruling party relied on United Future’s vote for a majority in the House.
Mr Dunne admitted that he wielded power that was disproportionate to his party’s one-seat representation in Parliament.
“I’m quite conscious of … not trying to overplay the hand. On the other hand, you don’t want to be silent either.
If someone has to have the balance of power on many issues, I’m glad it is someone like Peter Dunne.
On the one hand, Peter doesn’t overplay his hand. he doesn’t extort the Government for $500 million for pet projects like Winston used to. He asks for a few moderate initiatives and agreements.
And when it comes to individual bills, he does judge them on their merits. He supported Mondayisation and (so far) paid parental leave extension.
He won’t vote against the Government on something that is absolutely critical to them (such as asset sales), but will vote against when the Government can’t persuade him that their view is best.
He initially planned to oppose a bill which aimed to deter people-smuggling.
The National-led Government had a majority on the Immigration Amendment Bill with the support of Act and the Maori Party, but wanted all of its coalition partners onside.
Mr Dunne forced National to change the definition of a mass arrival of refugees from 10 people to 30 people, and also to make changes which made the bill less punitive.
A good example of being constructive to improve a bill.
His key vote has also made him a lightning rod for criticism, in particular on the partial asset sales legislation.
Yet he made it clear before the election he would vote for the legislation subject to certain conditions. He got elected on that basis.