UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says won't contest election after 'shift in Ohariu voter sentiment'

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says won't contest election after 'shift in Ohariu voter sentiment'
Wellington Library was up with the play

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne has announced he is quitting politics at this election, deciding not to contest Wellington's Ohariu electorate, citing a shift in voter sentiment.

Dunne has managed to hold on to the seat at recent elections at the grace of National voters who had been asked to give their electorate votes to him by former Prime Minister John Key, and current PM Bill English.

The deal had been revived for September's election, although a recent poll showed Dunne under pressure from Labour's candidate Greg O'Connor.

The big question now will be whether National's Brett Hudson is able to get over the line for his party. Even if he does, then based on current polling the move could result in a loss of a seat for the National-led coalition as the electorate seat win would effectively push a National list MP out. (Previously I'd put that it wouldn't make a difference).

Dunne effectively endorsed Hudson, thanking at the end of his statement (below) for support over the year. No mention was made of O'Connor.

Dunne is currently Minister of Internal Affairs. He began political life as a Labour MP 33 years ago, leaving to form UnitedFuture in an attempt to raise a liberal democratic party at the centre of New Zealand politics. He served as a Minister of Revenue in Helen Clark's governments, then switching allegiences to National under John Key.

Despite many of UnitedFuture's policies perhaps being closer to Labour's base, Dunne over recent years grew more and more critical of his former party, even going as far to suggest he would not enter a coalition with Labour at the time Andrew Little was at the helm. 

Alex Tarrant's take:

Perhaps this was why Dunne wasn't present at National's great unveiling of its cheaper GP visit policy in Ohariu's Johnsonville on Monday morning?

Prime Minister Bill English, Deputy PM Paula Bennett and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman were shadowed by the man who had said he wasn't even going to vote for himself in Ohariu - Brett Hudson - who was milling around there in the background.

He certainly will be changing his box ticking intentions now.

Was Dunne snubbed? This would have been a perfect opportunity for a cup of tea down the road in affluent Khandallah.

Basically the polls have been the killer. UnitedFuture didn't even feature on the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll last week. Unless it looked like UF might have been able to get to the 1.2% mark needed to bring a 'coat-tails' MP on the back of Dunne's electorate seat, there's no difference for National in terms of whether it was Dunne or Hudson who won the seat.

ACT leader David Seymour has the same arrangement in Epsom. ACT is at about half a percentage point on most polls at the moment - a bit of jump needed, but at least in a better position than Dunne. National's catering to New Zealand First voters this campaign might just see a few urbanites turn to ACT in protest, so Seymour still has a slight chance to have a mate in with him after 23 September.

I've known Dunne for a number of years - I went to school out at Onslow and played for the North Wellington football club of which he was the patron. He was always well-regarded as a good electorate MP. I had assumed that inclusion of more of Wadestown in the Ohariu electorate should have boosted Dunne's ability to be re-elected, even at the behest of National's leadership.

I struggle to understand how Greg O'Connor alone could have boosted support for Labour in Ohariu. No offence to the guy - he's a nice bloke, but he's not going to be any better as a local candidate. So that leaves me with one factor trumping the rest: The snap Ohariu poll which looks like it has sunk Dunne was taken by 1 News Colmar Brunton after Jacinda Ardern had claimed Labour's leadership.

Is Dunne the first scalp of a resurgent Labour Party under Ardern?

See Dunne's statement below:

“The current political environment is extremely volatile and unpredictable. However, I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter. This shift in voter sentiment is quite at variance with polling and other data I have seen throughout the year, upon which I had based my earlier decision to seek re-election for a 12th term as MP for Ōhāriu. While I am naturally extremely disappointed after 33 years of service at this apparent change of feeling, I recognise and understand it, and respect absolutely the electorate's prerogative to feel that way.

“I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ōhāriu can elect a new electorate MP. Consequently, after much consideration and discussion with those closest to me, I am announcing today that I will not be putting forward my nomination for election to the next Parliament. I do so with considerable reluctance, but I have always understood that holding public office is a temporary privilege granted by the people, and can never be taken for granted.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the Ōhāriu electorate in its various forms since 1984. I thank my constituents, my supporters, my Party, and all those staff members who have worked so loyally and professionally alongside me over the years, but above all, I pay huge thanks to my wife Jennifer, my sons, James and Alastair, raised in the heat of politics, and my entire family for their loyal support, patience and encouragement for so long. 

“I am especially proud to have worked alongside successive National- and Labour-led Governments in the collaborative environment of MMP, and to have had the privilege of serving as first an Under-Secretary and then a Minister under seven different Prime Ministers for just on fifteen years. I am very proud of the many changes I have been able to make in my portfolios over the years to make New Zealand a better place in which to live and raise a family.

“Over the last three years alone, I have been very pleased to lead the work to modernise New Zealand's drug policy towards a stronger health focus; and to make fluoridation of drinking water more widespread. I was delighted to establish Fire and Emergency New Zealand which unified our urban and rural fire services in the biggest reform of our fire services in 70 years. I was also very pleased to have been able to bring back 10 year passports. The D5 group of the world’s most digitally advanced nations meets in New Zealand early next year. Having overseen New Zealand help form the D5 group in 2014, I will be very sorry not to be chairing that meeting. Lastly, I have enjoyed being part of the continuing drive to make the taonga of the National Library and the National Archives more widely available to all New Zealanders.

“Ōhāriu has been a very large part of my life. I have lived continuously in the area for more than forty years. Jennifer and I raised our family in Ōhāriu. It is our home. Working for the community and its people over the last 33 years has, at all times, been an absolute delight. I will miss hugely that direct engagement with so many aspects of the life of our community, and I will never forget the huge honour Ōhāriu gave me by electing me, first as a young 30 year old, and then for the next ten elections after that.

“But good things cannot last forever. Now it is time for me to put all that behind me, take the election hoardings down, say goodbye to Parliament without bitterness or regret, and get on with life.

“Finally, my thanks and best wishes for the future go to Brett Hudson MP, National’s List MP based in Ōhāriu, for the support he has shown me throughout this year.” 

Statement from Prime Minister Bill English:

Prime Minister Bill English today thanked United Future Leader Peter Dunne for his contribution to strong and stable government over the past nine years.

“Mr Dunne rang me earlier today to advise me of his decision to retire at this election,” Mr English says.

“I respect his decision. Now we have a clear choice in Ohariu between National’s Brett Hudson and the Labour candidate.

“Brett is an energetic and capable MP who has already made a considerable contribution to Government and has built strong links with voters in the Ohariu electorate.

“In the last three elections National has won the party vote in Ohariu by a significant margin. We will now fight hard to win the seat as well as maximising our party vote in the electorate,” Mr English says.

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not surprised he has been caught up in the mood for change, lucky david has ordered the cup of tea or ACT would be next

Smart move. He is able to sense now, that this election is Vote for change and am sure many in national too knows.

As we move towards election date the question that will be asked is what the margin of defeat will be for current national government.

Bad for Bill English but atleast he had the opportunity to be PM for sometime by default.

I'm not sure that stating one's wishes with bravado will make it so.

Smart move. He is able to sense now, that this election is Vote for change and am sure many in national too knows.

As we move towards election date the question that will be asked is what the margin of defeat will be for current national government.

Bad for Bill English but atleast he had the opportunity to be PM for sometime by default.


Well, credit to him for calling it.


Not sure about that, more like JK - board the lifeboat to avoid ignominy and hope there's a titular title waiting ashore.

I find it quite interesting that Labour contested Ohariu as much as they did.

Dunne was ex Labour himself, and his (UFs) policies were definitely more red than blue.

I would have thought, that had Labour got close enough he most likely sided with them anyway.

Point is however that his policies really made absolutely no difference at all - as he was never in a strong enough bargaining position to force the implementation of them. Labour wanted the seat to simply rid the electorate of this electoral accommodation.

We'll really only see the merit of Labour in this regard if they make government and change the electoral law in accordance with the Electoral Commission's recommendations. That way there will be less of this sort of gaming and we'll get closer to a better/truer level of proportional representation and (hopefully) a brighter future in terms of collaborative governance.

He wrote an article here that was some serious weak sauce recently. It didn't go down well because it was just visionless and exacerbationary. It was definitely time for him to move on.


Oh, that article.

It was clear that Ohariu had the chance of a serious upgrade in Greg O'Connor, and would be nuts not to take it.

Ah...fair point.

...and another one bites the dust. 3 leaders in 3 weeks. Who's next?

As a part of the settlement Eminem will be replacing Bill English as National's Leader.

Would probably give them a lift in the polls!

Polling was 38% Dunne and 48% Greg O'Connor. It was pretty clear the tide had turned prior to the change in Labour leader. If we had a more current poll we could see how sentiment has shifted. If it's gone more in the red direction it'd be a waste of time standing (which appears to be what he's concluded).

I see Gareth Morgan has been quoted out of context in relation to the Labour Party instant makeover .

Its funny how everyone has jumped to conclusions about what he said , clearly not understanding the figure of speech used .

You have got to laugh.

He has summed up the new -look Labour policies perfectly , they are lipstick on a pig

Maybe he should of gone with Mutton dressed up as Lamb instead.

Faux outrage personified.


Actually,pigs are intelligent creatures. If only I could same the same about.......

Help. Can anybody explain if Peter Dunne holding his seat didn't add to National's numbers then why does that not apply to ACT in Epsom as well. I mean I can see the point with Peter Dunne as he has held off Labour there but Epsom is a safe National seat so why bother if there is no actual gain, because ACT has been just the one seat & will continue to stay like that.

It helps marginally. Let's say National wins 45% of the vote and they are therefore entitle to 45% of the seats. If they had won Epsom or Ohariu then they are still only entitled to 45% of the seats. However, ACT and UF wining their respective seats means National gets 45% of the seats plus 1 in support. This assumes there is no wastage seat and/or overhang. Given the tightness of elections it might be enough though.

All that really matters is the party vote as that determines the proportionality of Parliament.

In other words, 'holding off' an electorate vote from an opposition party doesn't matter in terms of proportionality. In other words, if you get more electorate MPs (but your party vote remains at say, the same proportion as the last election), you just fill up the same number of seats in Parliament as before. The only difference is, having got more electorate MPs voted in - fewer of your list candidates get brought in.

National simply makes these electoral seat accommodations in the hope that either U/F or ACT would get above the party vote threshold that comes with having a single electorate MP - and hence bring in an extra MP - thus expanding the size of Parliament beyond 120 members.

Here's a wee bit of an explanation that might help;


Little, Turei, Dunne all gone. I thought this was going to be a dull election. Anyone else?

I suspect the police investigation into Todd Barclay (and possible complicity of Bill English) will unfortunately only return a result after the election.

Already arranged

Bill Blunder is too busy at the moment to be re-interviewed - unavailable

Maybe his electorate finally realized what his slowness to act has done with the number of people on drugs now.

The beginning of the end for National......

.....or perhaps it had already begun the day JK resigned.


Before JK resigned. Short sighted policy is only appealing, well, for a short time....

Which is, of course, why JK resigned...

Well to quote the other Winston, it is certainly the end of the beginning.

DT copied his hair do

Well, no. Trump would have killed for Dunne's hair, it would have saved him winding it around his head a half a dozen times


Here's a big prediction. LABOUR TO WIN ENOUGH SEATS TO GOVERN ON THEIR OWN. National are sinking fast.

While I don't think it will be such a landslide it's pretty clear that National will lose this election. History shows that many voters like to vote for the side they think will win, so National will probably lose more votes in the run up to the election.

..yes the pendulum is still swimning.....throw in latest immigration, panicky ppty investors and some real campaiging on the mess they havecreated and they will move from toast to charcoal..

More Dunne and dusted than they were last week...

Talking about immigration. We have been lied to again by National saying a large percentage of the immigration are NZers coming home.
The stats out today reveal record immigration again, many from China and India, BUT more NZers are leaving than arriving.
How can Steven Joyce and his merry men account for that?

Interesting possibility. Labour certainly have the momentum.

As I said a week ago - momentum is everything.

National have that air of being jaded and I sense they know they're losing. Once that set in it becomes self-reinforcing.

I think alot of people for some time have wanted change but haven't been convinced there's been a viable option to National. Jacinda has changed that.

self-reinforcing, how about upping that to self-destructive

In defiance of all the polling to date, and fundamental left/right vote distribution. Labour, surfing vast wave of stories born out of vapid media interest in Ardern has taken a whole lot of votes off greens and a few off NZF, but hardly touched National (change less than poll margin of error), and they have announced a whole lot of left wing policy that will not win votes in the centre where they need them.
The productive sectors of the economy and all the votes they carry with them are scared shitless by the economic illiteracy and total absence of talent and experience in the Labour caucus, and their clientalism (tax-em-till-they-bleed and spend it on our mates) approach to governance. They are not going to shift left.

Peters appeals to the nursing home crowd and weak minded populist following reactionary reef-fish who brought Trump to power, a few of the most superficial amongst them might switch allegiance based on Ardern's looks.

So Labour will continue to heavily lag National in the polls. Peter's is the key, and his services are probably for sale cheaper to National (to whom he has more in common) than to Labour, regardless of all the hot air being spouted by Media in an attempt to make the election look more interesting.

Care for a bet ? I say there is 0% chance or that happening.

Hi guys - just a tweak above - it does result in the loss of a seat for the National-led coalition. Hudson winning the seat would push a National list MP out, and they would lose Dunne's support. So reduces the overhang.


Mercifully, no one will have to suffer his valedictory speech.

If looking at Brexit & Trump upending the early polls and the establishment, it was obviously about momentum, and late fast building momentum at that. This looks like exactly that scenario right here now and it does not look like buttoning off. Because of this , the Oracle, the Fates & all the soothsayers are heralding Labour defeating.National at this election. So party vote to NZF, to apply the safety brake, it's essential!

We need to see more poll results, this is changing by the minute.

Very tough now for National to get back in IMO, due to a potential loss in a seat, which is very important to them. It is possibly time for them to start panicking. I wonder if we may see a bit of a revolt in National. eg someone else pushing to be leader who is young and likable. JA is very likable for a politician, and has youth on her side, but not sure who on the National side is as likable. BE is somewhat likable in a laid back dad / grandad type of way, and not sure if there is anyone else on their side that are as relatable Otherwise is it too late for them?.

Would go along with that. If you go back to Key's resignation Collins & Coleman had self appointed ideas of succeeding, so that can only show how far-removed from reality the whole lot of them are. Sure BE came logically through, but those two, election poison in my opinion. Always thought that Simon Power was a very good Minister of Justice and of PM prospects from amongst the younger National MPs. Long gone though.& there ain't anybody else to fit, either now or the near future.

The ominous figure in the poll featured on the Sunday programme , was the voting intention of people who voted for Dunne at the last Election. Only 63 % would vote for him this time. And it would be hard to see him picking up new voters.
Good on him for facing reality.
Will this reduce the number of seats to 121 ?

I am going to pop my head above the parapet for a bit. Feel free.
Dunne has actually had some good ideas, and displayed a very pragmatic attitude in some things. I always liked his idea of income splitting for taxation purposes for families, and I think he actually showed a lot of maturity where the issue of drugs go. The one big thing that he annoyed the crap out of me over was asset sales, stating prior to the election where power co's were part sold, that he was opposed to it all, then voted for it all. I think his credibility suffered a bit.

Amazing the flip in polls since last September.

If it proves one thing it is that policies are worthless, we vote for who we like. Personalities rule.

Exactly. Watching labour on Q + A on sunday they aren't even really saying what some of their tax policies are at the moment (eg whetehr they will rise income tax), because they said they will need to use a working group after the election to come up with a more balanced tax system. So it appears people are somewhat voting blind with labour on some of their policies. Whereas National are pretty open with their tax policies.

Is it really voting blind, if you don't care about the policy to begin with?

People vote to get incumbent parties out, not to get another party in. This election will be a classic example of this.

Exactly, but it could be like jumping out of the frying pan, into the fire. IMO unless a parties polices are actually better than the incumbent, then they shouldn't be voted in, in a strong democracy. The actual personalities of the politicians should be irrelevant. It is like buying a house, people shouldn't buy a house just because the real estate agent is very persuasive and friendly to you. The end result should be buying a house you want, not a house that the agent wants to sell you.

It worked for JK and National. Did they really have better policies for three elections? I guess they did campaign on reducing house prices and no increase to GST.... That all sounds pretty good...

It could be.

But that frying pan is spitting fat all over the cooker, and its getting messy and dangerous. If we dont do anything then a fire is definitely going to occur.

100K in immigration
Homelessness at record Highs
1 mill for average home in Auckland
Infrastructure crisis
Low wage inflation
Education rorts

can it really get any worse.

Good old NZ is turning RED

Not even close to Red,at most Pale Pink. We have Kiwisaver thanks to the last labour government and if they are in power after Sept. how much real difference do you think we will see? More emphasis on rail than road,a bigger emphasis on environmental and climate change issues and some tweaks to the tax system and a few other minor differences,but not much The debt/GDP level will not rise and our world will not come to an end-relax.

However they reverse some of the changes to kiwi saver that national made, such as giving more tax credits. That potentially could make a significant difference to some peoples savings over their life. Also removing the ability to withdraw almost all savings, to buy a house, as all that did was push up prices even more, as people can afford to pay more.

Sworn off the pension too, have you?

A new pic in there from a Wellington Library shelf this afternoon.

Dunne’s single vote pushed the GCSB bill through. Quite something for a supposed libertarian! That political deal was cooked-up to save his bacon after he leaked the Kitteridge report to that young girl Andrea Valance who he was infatuated with. I remember John Campbell interviewing him outside a dairy where youths were laying waste to their lives with synthetic cannabis. Dunne was pursuing a softly softly approach to regulation. “lacking credibility” is an oft used political insult, but in this case I think it really does apply. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh? Sad to see him pour scorn on the labour party as he slinks out the door.

Softly-softly on the damaging synthetic canabis industry coincidentally at the time his son was involved in it:

Alex goes from MT groupie to JA groupie , all in space of a few days .. why call himself a journalist ?

Alex is doing a fine job of reporting on politicians from all sides.
Perhaps you could take of the blue tinted glasses paashas to see that