Peter Dunne says the Government has to all intents and purposes become a New Zealand First/Labour coalition

Jacinda Ardern & Winston Peters cartoon by Jacky Carpenter.

By Peter Dunne*

When a few months ago New Zealand First abruptly vetoed Labour’s plans to repeal the three strikes criminal justice law it was glibly explained away by Labour as just a breakdown in communication that would be resolved by the time a policy paper came anywhere near the Cabinet for consideration.

With the Criminal Justice Summit then looming, and clearly more water yet to flow under the bridge, the explanation had a brief air of credibility about it, so was largely believed, and everyone moved on.

However, it will be a little more difficult to treat this week’s equally blunt dismissal by the Deputy Prime Minister of Labour’s long held plans to double the refugee quota in quite the same vein. All the more so, given the Deputy Prime Minister’s accompanying chilling observation that “Labour is not the government.” This would have been news to many people who thought we had a Labour-led coalition government with New Zealand First, and supported by the Greens.

Certainly the comments were intended to play to New Zealand First’s racist constituency that does not like either migrants or refugees and definitely does not want to see any more of them. But they were also sending a none too veiled reminder to Labour that this government survives neither because of the gushing charm of its leader, nor the self-imagined talent of its Ministers, nor the will of the public, but simply and solely at the pleasure of New Zealand First and its leader.

Labour has been placed on clear public notice that it needs to toe the New Zealand First line to remain in office.

The Prime Minister’s muted response shows she understands her predicament all too well, and will bow to it, because she has no other option.

While this was always seen as a potential risk for this coalition government, given its make-up, Labour had earlier believed that during the period of the Prime Minister’s maternity leave, their Ministers would be able to straightjacket the Deputy Prime Minister, to preserve the fiction this government was Labour-led, but he was too wily for that to ever have been a possibility.

This was his opportunity to put his stamp clearly on the government, and he was not going to be denied.

He easily outwitted his Labour colleagues and used his considerably greater experience to perform better than most had expected he would as Acting Prime Minister, and bring an air of stability to a government that has looked somewhat chaotic before and since.

In so doing, he enhanced considerably his stature within the government, as well as increasing New Zealand First's dominance of it, leaving Labour between a rock and a hard place.

By the time the Prime Minister returned to duty, the die was firmly cast, and the government had to all intents and purposes become a New Zealand First/Labour coalition. Nothing has happened to reverse that over the last few weeks, and the Prime Minister’s travails with her own Ministers in the last couple of weeks have reinforced the new dynamic.

Against that backdrop, the refugee put down this week is a ruthless assertion to the public of where the power really lies in this government and who will be calling the shots for the remainder of its term.

The Prime Minister's awkward balancing act from here on is to continue to appear enthusiastic and aspirational, while at the end of her Deputy's string, and only allowed to implement the policies he mandates.

How long the now marginalised public tolerates that becomes an open question.


*Peter Dunne is the former leader of UnitedFuture, an ex-Labour Party MP, and a former cabinet minister. This article first ran here and is used with permission.

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51 Comments

Peters said to Ardern that if you do not make me happy I will form a coalition with National in 2020.

Ardern looked at Peters with her signature smile on her face, and nodded gently and subtly.

Peters slowly laid back into his chair with relief and satisfaction, and replied "That's my girl. That's my girl....".

Nat/NZF would be fine as long a foreign ownership and immigration controls remain a foundation of the agreement. Without staying the course on those two items NZF is toast and then who know....

Do you have your hand down your pants when you are dreaming up this s### you pervy F###?

Peters said right from day one neither Labour or National had grasped that this is how true MMP works.

Good comments, and encapsulates the mare's nest in which the Labs now find themselves.

We really need a better cartoon, though, chaps and chapesses. A Wizened Wizard in the top of the fly-tower, with gossamer threads manipulating the Puppet PM on centre stage, while stage Left, various 'Ministers' manage to rather publicly shoot themselves in the foot or more vital organs, and on stage Right, the Plunge Protection Crew are trying to find more Dusty Old Carpets under which to sweep the latest tranche of Borrowings while a Greek Chorus in the orchestra pit chants 'Fiscal Responsibility, Nothing to See Here, Move On, Me Too, Ooooo Cute Kid'.

Backstage, out of shot, the TWG, the Zero Carbon zealots, the 157 other working groups, and the inner machinery of the Good Intentions Paving Company (2017) Limited, grind on.....

How's aboot it, Interest?

Yes, it is a Lab/NZF government, the Greens are effectively out of the coalition and have only committed to provide confidence and supply in return for very little.
I mentioned this when the coalition was being formed commenting then that Peters played Nat & Lab skilfully to get the most he could from them whereas the Greens promised their allegiance to Lab straight away and refused to entertain any serious thoughts of an alliance with Nat, hence they had no bargaining power at all and they ended up with very little indeed.
Same goes for the 2020 election, why would Lab pay much attention to what the Greens want when they know they will have their support no matter what?
On the other hand NZF could move to Nat in 2020 so Lab will bend over backwards to satisfy Peters.

In my opinion, wether it is ideologically right or wrong of Peters to play Lab & Nat against each other and form a government with either, is less important than having as much say as possible when in government, therefore I think Peters (I'm no supporter of him or NZF) is doing a much better job than the Greens' leaders who end up with little say.

How about just a cartoon of an ex-politician mooning in the direction of a media representative?

And in the background, a long winding queue waiting outside a shop bearing the sign 'Magic Elixirs sold here' and below that: 'Straws, grasp yours today!'

Yes, it's a Lab/NZF government - with NZF as the senior partner.

Schadenfreude makes my day.

Is this new information? - that Labour is in coalition with NZF. Hmmm, very keen obversation.

New Zealand looks like one of the few countries MMP-style government works. Peters and Ardern themselves are about as solid as political allies get.

You need to go to Specsavers and then watch the Vietnam war series on Netflix to get a sense as to what's going on. Taxinda is being undermined on a daily basis. Winstone isn't her friend, just look at the pics on MSM. He is the Võ Nguyên Giáp to her Ho Chi Minh.

Ex Epat. At the risk of coming across as pedantic, I think party secretary Le Duan rather than Giap is more the Peters equivalent. A controlling egotist who made some disastrous blunders for which he accepted no accountability.

Only up to episode 3 and you are correct. By that stage he was the power behind the 'throne'. Fascinating watching these series and their back story. Same with Franco.

In Canada, Europe and the USA there is much unrest emerging in the non elites against the policies of the alt left and especially political correctness bullying. The protests of such populations are decried in MSM (even Reuters) as being from the alt right. However these generally apolitical masses do NOT fit into either of these very obtuse labels. Here in NZ there is much ignorance among our masses; however, events in these aforementioned countries will eventually influence peoples here. Milo Yiannopoulos is certainly what Australians would call a stirrer, but he is making people think. Others with a far more respectful approach such as Professor Jordan Peterson now have enormous followings in the English speaking world. Certainly the times they are a changing. Their messages will be heard despite violent protests and bomb threats.

.. if anyone needs a jolly good larf , just listen to a transcript of Claire Curren's stuttering reply to Melissa Lee's question in parliament yesterday , about Curren's private Gmails ...

OMG ... this team of Labour ministers are amateurs .... it's embarrassing ... or a cracking belly larf if you're on the other side of politics ...

... they need good experienced old Winston to hold their precious little hands , and to lead them gently off the primrose path of their rabid ideologies ...

I sensed the stuttering was a result of desperately trying to avoid lying to Parliament. Apparently Lee has more info. It would be more humane to let her go than have her face another question time.

... it is awesome live theatre .... that Curren lass has a golden career in stand-up comedy waiting for her after Jacinda bites the bullet and boots her out ... hilarious !

Quite incredible, here is the link
https://youtu.be/4l-_KeMdG5k

That sign language interpreter really earned her pay check signing Currans reply.

I reckon she'll have to be jettisoned at some point. Labour's version of Hekia Parata and Nick Smith.

Although in the meantime perhaps she should try John Key's "different hats" excuse on for size, see how that plays with her own and John Key's disciples.

She's certainly providing Soimon with some welcome relief from attention on his digging in to all his MP's communications to find the traitor.

4pm on a Friday seems to be the favoured timing for slipping things to the Media with advance notice to Tova O'Brien a possibility.....

Aye, beer o'clock it is.

Yes, our very own tin pot would be dictator is in charge. Dunne has finally got there, bit slow, but got there in the end. MMP has delivered us an executive president, El Presidente Peters. Let's just give thanks we are not a republic.

Why is it that socialists are so good at being someone else's useful idiot? Why is that Dunne can see that Peters is now in charge, but not that excessive immigration, acting though housing shortages, homelessness and house price inflation, has put him there?

... MMP is the prefect means for the tail to wag the dog ....

In an ideal world , the party political system would fall apart , and we'd have truly independent minded individuals making up our parliament .... voting every bill on it's merits ... rather than toeing the party line ....

... reinstate the charter schools !

The failure of representative democracy across the Western world is a bit of theme at the moment, as The Deplorables seek to throw off the web their betters have ensnared them with. The Swiss solve this with a dose of direct democracy, the very thought of which scares the daylights out of the representative classes. I mean we can't have the hoi polloi actually making decisions now can we?

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... . as an irredeemable deplorable myself , I'm heartened to see like minded individuals across the globe sticking the middle finger up to the arrogant incumbent authorities .... as the Brits have so magnificently done to the boof-heads in the EU ... suck on them sprouts , Brussels !

It also explains why Trump got elected.

He could well get elected again, because the over-privileged, liberal elites don't seem to have got the message that they need to resonate with ordinary Americans.

Likewise, if there were another Brexit vote, the Poms would rally round Jacob Rees-Mogg (who is probably the poshest person on the planet, but who understands ordinary voters) and give the Remoaners a good kicking..

... correct me if I'm wrong , but the Brexit referendum was a non-binding vote , wasn't it ?

Sssssssh .... don't tell Theresa ... she may cotton onto that little fact sometime after Boris johnson's her ...

Winston is a non event beyond the immediate future. He represents my geriatric age group whom have very little idea of what is happening outside their own insular world. Indeed, following comments here, your world is also very insular.

The real question is which dictator do you prefer? John Key, Winston Peters or myself?

John Key was actually elected as Prime Minister. We vote for the leader as much as for the party.

Why has national support remained so strong with John Key gone - if the supporters were voting for him/the leader and not just the colour blue?

Frankly - because of demographics and lazy thinking - a large cohort of older voters who vote to support "no change", who don't like any changes to the rules or things that might jeopardise their housing investments, tax rates, retirement income, or things they hold as commonly accepted beliefs.

And because of traditional rural support for socially conservative policies & parties - although god knows why because National doesn't do anything to earn that vote, and is more beholden to a couple of key interest groups such as FF and Fonterra.

All those young lefties must switch to the right when they get older. Is that your theory?

Actually he was a part of a coalition. As such your statement equally applies to the current Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Ouch, facts.

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Who's really pulling the strings of government?
Answer.
The Australian Banks, they have been all along.

So you're saying the OZ banks are telling the NZ government what to do. Like stop foreign buying of NZ houses, stop deep sea drilling, increase WFF, etc

Do not be so ingenuous Yvil. It is much more complicated than that.

OK, maybe Nic means that the OZ banks told the new government to plant a million trees or, spend large on the regions, re-enter the west coast mine and curb immigration?

Cindy’s CV for a senior UN role won’t be complete unless she can get those refugees from Nauru and Manus.
PM- done
Oil and gas ban - done
Refugees - not done

Jacinda should focus more on fixing the levels of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence in NZ society before worrying about non-New Zealanders experiencing the same on Nauru. As they say, charity begins at home.

show pony
noun [ C ] uk ​ /ˈʃəʊ ˌpəʊ.ni/ us ​ /ˈʃoʊ ˌpoʊ.ni/ Australian English

a person who appears to perform well, but has no real ability

This is about sending the right virtue signals to the world even if it means these criminals resuming their shipments of human cargo.

As for the poor and the homeless in NZ, meh they'll vote for Labour no matter what anyway.

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Peter Dunne should be attending all the funerals of the 60+ dead young people (this year alone), which have died due to K2/synthetics. NOT writing a cliched op-ed for interest.co.nz.

I'm not sorry for saying the above, sometimes the truth is offensive. I'm very disappointed in interest.co.nz today.

Brando, I agree. Had Dunne actually acheived anything in that arena instead of being a sockpuppet he might have been invited back to the Beehive, instead he's let an entire synthdeath wave sweep the nation. SHAME!

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Well said, Zach.
interest.co.nz may well think that the former Labour and National lap dog is well qualified to comment on the current government's supposed travails. I for one consider the vain, pompous, charlatan Dunne whose son is/was a lobbyist for the synthetic cannabis industry and who refused to disclose the content of over 80 emails to the ex News of the World journo Andrea Vance during the GCSB inquiry has no chance of being considered anything other than a third rate and untrustworthy commentator. This website can surely do better.

Peter Dunce - what a plonker - he thinks we're all as confused as he is.
Peters has not mentioned the refugee quota nor is he incorrect when he says "Labour is not the government'.

Sounds like Peter Dunne is jealous, imagine been in a coalition where the minor parties have a say .

Bingo. Twat comment by Dunne referring to "racist constituency" - maybe his answer to Hilary's "basket of deplorables?"

Right or wrong, NZF represent the earthy essence of New Zealand, and do as good a job of defusing the fruitiness of the left as they do the rapaciousness of the right.