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Transcript: Maori Seats To Go Under National-UF

Audio And Transcript: Maori Seats To Go Under National-United Future

Peter Dunne discusses whether the Maori seats would go under his watch

EXPLANATORY NOTE Re: Scoop's Election Briefings: Over the next few weeks, utilising the latest electronic wizardry, Scoop will be interviewing key players from across the political spectrum. The interviews will be posted in full in audio files in MP3 format with a summary note from the interviewer.

The intention is to provide a venue for a more detailed understanding of the thinking of the political parties and their views on policies than can be obtained from the typical debate style presentations being carried by other media.

Wednesday, 31August 2005 – 3:30 PM – United Future Leaders office Bowen House

Last week United Future's leader Peter Dunne took the time to explain to Scoop what his parties bottom lines will be in post election co-alition talks. Whilst uneasy about National's plans to scrap the Maori seats should they become the next Government - Mr Dunne explained that keeping the Maori seats was not a bottom line for his party, if they were to enter into a coalition with National.

  • Extract discussing Maori seats – National's plans to abolish these seats and Mr Dunne's friend, Dr Brash's approach to race relations.

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  • Peter Dunne discusses the potential abolishment of the Maori Seats and where United Futiure would stand
  • Transcribed Sept. 04, 2005

    Scoop: The abolishment of the Maori seats. That's pretty simple, it's pretty black and white--they're either go or they stay--so what's United Future position?

    Dunne: What I've said is that we think there should be a debate about a timetable for phasing them out, but that process has to occur in consultation with, and with the support of Maori. You can't simply dispossess them. That doesn't mean we do nothing. It means we start the process. Now, what the National Party is saying is they want to abolish them. I think between the two positions there's some common ground that could be worked on.

    Scoop: What if they say they'd like to abolish them in two years?

    Dunne: I think you then say, okay, if that's the objective, then you start a negotiation or a discussion process immediately to bring people on side to achieve that goal.

    Scoop: I noticed that Bernie Ogilvy, he's quite far down the party list so he might not even be there, so you could theoretically have all pakeha in United Future and you'd be voting with National to abolish the Maori seats. Would that be fair [to say]?

    Dunne: That's a theoretical possibility, but we haven't got to the election yet. We haven't even formed a government yet. So there are a number of big assumptions contained in that question.

    Scoop: If you came back with eight MPs, you wouldn't have anyone that was of Maori heritage, and you'd then be going into partnership with National--

    Dunne: As far as I know, that may not be true. Assuming we were working with National.

    Scoop: Well, assuming you were working with National, would you be comfortable with that?

    Dunne: As I say, these things you take one step at a time. You work your way through them. We haven't had any talks with National about what sort of a working arrangement we might have at any point in the future. That's the first thing that's got to occur. Then you start to say: What are the issues? What are potential sticking points? How might they be resolved? How important are they?

    The National Party says, for instance, that abolishing the Maori seats is a bottom line for it. But does that mean they want to do it in the first term? The first one year? The first two years? There are a whole lot of issues that flow from that.

    Scoop: I think it was actually the first term.

    Dunne: Well, you know, you work through those. That's what negotiations are about.

    Scoop: Are you personally friendly with Helen Clark and Don Brash?

    Dunne: Yes, I've known Helen for probably a quarter of a century. Sounds a helluva long time. I've worked well with her. We were both Ministers in the Fourth Labour Government together. I've kept in touch with her in the intervening years. I've worked with her, obviously, very closely in the last three years. I've got a huge respect for her abilities and for her capacity. And I think, in some senses, we are not dissimilar.

    Don Brash I've known for twenty years as a friend. From the time that he was with the Kiwifruit Authority, long before he came to the Reserve Bank. I get on well with him. I get on well with Helen. I can work with both.

    Scoop: On the topic of the emails that came out--do you believe that Don Brash was assisted in his race relations policy?

    Dunne: Oh, I think he probably was, and some of the key characters have admitted as much. What's the significance of that, at the end of the day? I'm not sure. I think it's long bows to start suggesting there's some deep and dark conspiracy here. Everyone gets all sorts of gratuitous offers flung their way. Some people provide more than just gratuitous advice; they provide practical help. Some don't. I think the interesting issue is why what looked to be his friends have now decided to leak all this material.

    Scoop: You know Roger Douglas as well. You would have known Roger Douglas. Roger Douglas sent Don Brash some information prior to the leadership vote in which he put, "My only concern is that National MPs will see you as narrowing the party's appeal, not widening it. Attached is a paper with a suggestion of what you might sent to MPs to overcome this problem." And at the top of the paper was one word: Race.

    Dunne: I haven't caught up with that. That surprises me a little. I wouldn't have thought that that was--

    Scoop: Was that the Roger Douglas you knew?

    Dunne: No, it was not. The Roger Douglas I knew was a more tolerant and open person. I haven't read the memo, so I don't know what its content is. The fact that he offered the advice, well, I think that's his prerogative. If it was accepted, well, that's Don Brash's choice as well.

    Scoop: You said you've known Don Brash for a while though, so has he always been keen on getting rid of the Maori seats?

    Dunne: I've not discussed that specifically with him in that way. But the Don Brash I've known for a long time has been a very open tolerant and liberal individual. And someone who does have a world view that is beyond the sort of the narrow and the precious. I can't say that that goes for all of his party, and it may well be that other influences are shaping his positions at the moment. But to me, he's always been a pretty high-minded and noble individual.

    ENDS

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