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Wellington Watch - Peter Dunne


1 May 2001

Over recent weeks, the New Zealand Herald has been running a series of columns about the core values that shape modern New Zealand, and has been inviting contributions from New Zealand's political leaders. A copy of my contribution can be obtained from the United Future Parliamentary Unit, or it can be viewed in full at

At the conclusion, it ran a summary of the core values of the various parties as follows:

* Helen Clark - Labour opportunity; justice and fair play; security

* Jenny Shipley - National opportunity; freedom; the right to choose

* Jim Anderton - Alliance opportunity; security

* Peter Dunne - United Future family; community responsibility

* Jeanette Fitzsimons - Greens sustainability; justice; participation

* Winston Peters - NZ First embracing ethnic diversity as one people

* Richard Prebble - ACT can do culture; results matter

Herald Columnist Garth George was more blunt in his assessment:

"We cannot look to our political leaders for guidance because, with one exception, none of them seems to know what a value is.

... My one exception (is) Peter Dunne, leader of the one-MP
United Future, the only one who really knows what values are. Hear him:

'We often lose sight of the family's role in building a cohesive society ... There is a strong sense among us that one of the things we have lost sight of in the necessary reforms of the past two decades is our sense of commitment to each other ... A society based on the primacy of the family, mixed with a recognition of social responsibility to the wider community, has a cohesion we might feel is lacking ... it also has a measure of confidence about its future and its emotional security that means it can address with a measure of confidence the (social and economic problems from which we suffer).'

What a damn shame Mr Dunne is a one-man band."

Here is a selection of some other media comments over the last month:

What Ohariu Belmont Voters Think: My 2001 Survey of Ohariu Belmont voters has produced the following results:

1. New Zealand should have a new national day to replace Waitangi Day:

Agree 76% Disagree 21% Unsure 3%

2. The possession and use of cannabis should be decriminalised:

Agree 16% Disagree 82% Unsure 2%

3. MMP is working: Agree 39% Disagree 49% Unsure 13%

4. Parents should be able to send their children to the school of their choice, regardless of where they live:

Agree 72% Disagree 21% Unsure 7%

5. New Zealand is heading the right direction under the Labour/Alliance Government:

Agree 34% Disagree 48% Unsure 18%

6. The single most important facing New Zealand today is:

Values/Personal Accountability Social Cohesion 14/%

Law & Order 13%

Health 10%

Race Relations 10%

Education 8%

Economy 6%

Defence 5%

"These results came as no real surprise to me, and mirror the feelings I have been picking up from constituents for some time now. They are, however, a very valuable guide to me, which I will certainly take full account of, both in my role in Parliament and in general policy formulation."

ANZAC Day 2001 "The enduring ANZAC characteristics are of steadfastness under pressure, courage in the face of adversity, and commitment to ideals and principles. They are as relevant to us today as they were to the original ANZACs. We can best honour the memory of those who have fallen and those who gave so much by embracing their characteristics as those of our own age, thereby ensuring that their memory will never die."

Quiet Revolution Underway in New Zealand politics? New Zealanders are feeling more uncertain about their national identity, and are seeking to recapture the values they see as having been lost over the last 15 to 20 years.

"An increasing number of people are wishing to reassert our traditional identity as an innovative, pragmatic, compassionate and tolerant multicultural nation. The implications for political parties and government are obvious - for too long, Governments have been seen as operating primarily in their own interests, rather than facing the real issues. Worse, than that, the rise of political correctness means that often Governments will not take a stand for fear of offending some group or other, which means that they are seen as no longer standing for anything or capable of offering any real leadership. They have become mere managers - and changes of government are more about changing the furniture and the faces in control than changing society."

United Future's emphasis on family values and community responsibility was a direct response to public anxiety about today's lack of social cohesion. The key filter through which we run every policy issues is what impact it will have on New Zealand families, and through that, the wider community.

Income Protection Plans - a role for Unions?

Unions ought to be taking a leading role in establishing income protection cover for their members in the event of business collapse.

"Protection of employees' wage and salary entitlements in such circumstances is obviously critical, but the suggestion that employers be in effect required to provide for this in advance is clearly impractical. There is surely a role for unions here. They receive considerable membership fees from those they represent."

"Using that economic power to negotiate comprehensive insurance based income protection schemes on behalf of their members would be an extremely positive step the unions could take to serve their members' needs in a practical way. For example, the $80,000 the Engineers Union donated to the Labour Party at the last election would have been put to much more constructive effect had it been towards premium payments for comprehensive income protection for its members now suffering as a result of the Qantas New Zealand collapse."

Community Services Card Debacle Shows Need for a Family Focus

Another example of family needs being ignored is the present controversy surrounding the Community Services Card healthcare access.

The income threshold for the card for beneficiaries and superannuitants will be raised, but not for nearly 50,000 wage and salary earners on the same income level which makes a mockery of all fairness by penalising working low income Kiwis. Of more concern the announced changes are predominantly anti-family because they penalise families who are low-income earners, for no other reason than the Government wants to save a small amount of money. Decisions like this highlight the Government's piecemeal approach to policy and the need for a more family centred approach.

A New Agenda for New Zealand Taiwan Relations

"It is time we changed our approach to work more closely with democratic Taiwan, rather than continuing to sycophantically fall into line every time totalitarian China clicks its little finger and developed a new agenda for Taiwan/New Zealand relations based around the following points:

* Annual New Zealand Ministerial visits to Taiwan. (Canada and Australia already do this, but New Zealand restricts its Ministerial visits to one every three years, and only in portfolio areas related to our bilateral economic relationship.)

* Reciprocal visits to New Zealand by Taiwanese Ministers to be permitted for a full range of bilateral discussions. (Taiwan's Foreign Minister recently visited Australia and was able to hold discussions with political and business leaders.)

* Regular exchanges of visits between the New Zealand Parliament and Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. (Presently only unofficial New Zealand Parliamentary delegations go to Taiwan as full guests of the Taiwan Government. There is no arrangement in place for reciprocal visits by Taiwanese MPs.)

* New Zealand to support Taiwan's inclusion in international organisations and agreements, such as the World Trade Organisation and ultimately the United Nations.

* New Zealand and Taiwan to commence bilateral discussions with a view to negotiating a stand alone New Zealand/Taiwan Free Trade Agreement, similar to the recently concluded Closer Economic Relations Partnership Agreement with Singapore."

The full version of any of these statements is available for viewing at, or from my office.

If you know of other people who would like to receive this e-mail letter, please let me know, and I will be happy to add them to my list.

Until next time,


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